Louis Lovett Interview

February 4, 2010


Peggy O Hegarty and her parents are packers. They pack one type of thing into another type of thing. The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly is an epic adventure during which Peggy learns something really great about herself, becomes the hero and saves a whole lot of grown ups. Starring Louis Lovett, who was recently appointed the Ark Theatres first ever theatre maker, this production is a delight for audiences young and old and another triumph for a space that continues to entertain and educate-in miniature. Here. Louis talks to Caomhan Keane about the challenges of performing before such brutally honest punters and his dream of a theatre that reaches across the floodlights and brings the audience into the show.

You were recently appointed resident Theatre Maker at The Ark, the first person to hold such a position. What does this position entail?

As well as performing in this show there are three other strands-an outreach strand, a teacher-training strand and an actor-training strand. The outreach is where I bring theatre out of the ark and into a specific community and making theatre with them in their own environment; in the teacher training strand teachers will come into the Ark and I will help them bring their own creativity and help them go back to the classroom and put the drama curriculum up on its feet; and the actor training will be a fortnight later in spring where I will be introducing actors to the field of children’s theatre, borrowing a lot from physical theatre but specifically I hope to pass on a lot of what I have learned since I first acted on the Ark stage back in 1997.

Were you approached by the Ark about this position or what was it about it that interested you?

I didn’t apply for it. We arrived at it together. I spoke with the director of the Ark and the chairman of the board and the three of us met and this thing came out of it. It made a lot of sense, it was coming full circle. Especially with my history here. I learnt so much of my trade with children here in the Ark and I want to pass on some of what I have learnt.

Is children’s theatre something you were always interested in or is it something you fell into?

Back in 1997 a teacher of mine gave a man called Nick O Brown my number because Nick was auditioning for a show called The Croons. He rang me, auditioned me and that was my first ever show for children. I went on from there to perform again and again and again in the Ark, about 500 times, and I learned an awful lot from Nick and Martin Drurey who was the director of the Ark back then. I developed my passion for it because my initial introduction to it was in the company of these two vastly experienced men, utterly committed and very passionate about children’s theatre and I ran with it. I have always returned to children’s theatre throughout my career since then.

What is the biggest challenge in putting on a show that is primarily for children?

They respond to a performance in a more honest way about how they are feeling at every moment and it is a delight to hear them explain the story to the adult with them, or their friend beside them, how they are feeling along the way. It’s just so heartwarming to see.

Children just spontaneously let their emotions out and their running commentary is gorgeous. If you’re able to allow them their space to have this then that’s what I strive for. A little engagement with my audience that does not interfere with my performance.

It’s a judgment call on the part of the actor and I never close myself off, I always have a channel open to them and it’s about judging when to open that door, when to gently nudge it closed.

Isn’t a children’s audience quite like the classic Shakespearean audience, in that they will boo, hiss; truly interact with the text, or at least the performance. Do you ever wish more of that could be brought into adult theatre? Knock down the fourth wall

Once the performer is respecting the audience and the audience is respecting them. If we have that respect the little interplay between the two is great.

It’s a particular genre of theatre where if you want to push open the fourth wall and have a wink with your audience. Its something I’d love to see more of. Its up to the director.

You need openness on the part of the actors as well, to go there. They shouldn’t be afraid to square up to their audience, look them in the eye, and regard them as the show progresses.

I love that thing of having that calm and casual reference to the audience you know. ‘Hey this is really cool isn’t it. What do you think is going to happen next.’ that little interplay with the audience is specific to certain styles of theatre. And the audience loves it. When you

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