Louis Lovett’s B for Baby Blog
 

Louis Lovett’s B for Baby Blog

Actor Louis Lovett gives the behind the scence scoop while on the Abbey’s B for Baby Tour

Everyman Palace, Cork: Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 October

Had one of those moments on the Everyman Palace stage that don’t come along too often. A lovely, solid feeling that I was right where I should be. It was B for Baby’s opening night in Cork. A partisan crowd with energy crackling. My folks in the audience, Carmel Winters in with a wonderful family entourage, one of my oldest friends in and the stalls full of Corkonians. I loved every minute of it. A memorable night.
Had my Long Valley sandwich fix on Friday with a mate and a pot of tea. Saw a wonderful selection of hats in Cronins Menswear on Oliver Plunkett street. Nothing to beat a hat for keeping the rain off your head as Pythagoras once said to his friend Roy. Gasp. Visited the new Triskel and sneaked onto the stage there for a feel of it. Nice spot.
Bought another Vibes and Scribes book, went into Cork Roasters coffee to read it but sat at the window and just watched Bridge street go by. Ahh, me heart was red that day. And white.

Town Hall Theatre, Galway: Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 October

Didn’t get to see as much of Galway as I would have liked. Spent a lot of time in The Town Hall. Good chats after show on opening night with Mike Diskin, some of his team and the Baby contingent. On Saturday, drove my Granny (100 years old in November) to Clifden for a pot of tea in The Marconi Hotel. Met my cousin Mark Joyce in Recess on the way back. He’s a talented man, I came away rather inspired. Alas, too brief a visit. The weather was so miserable you could only laugh. So that was good enough for me.
Had a great workshop with the NUIG Dramatic Society on Wednesday. A good bunch. Rewarded my own efforts with a Boogaloo burger. I do like my burgers. Watched the heartbreak of Ireland losing to Wales in a local hostelry at six in the morning so as to soak up some atmosphere. Walked back to bed in the rain.

Roscommon Arts Centre, Roscommon: Friday 30 September & Saturday 1 October

Roscommon was a pleasure. I had great chats on the street with people just talking about the town and area. Stretched my legs and got a good look at the town. Also shook a leg in Rockfords. My first disco in a long time. Delightfully civilised too. Did more chatting than cha cha.

Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise: Tuesday 6 & Wednesday 7 September

No restolounges in Portlaoise, I’ll have you know. But The Old Bank House is a lovely new addition to the town centre especially after the sad demise of The Kitchen and Foodhall. Before I discovered The Bank House’s cream tea and tapas, however, I had to succumb to my first ever pre-show dinner from a take-away chipper. Oh my, oh my, oh my! There’s a first time for everything and that starchy, booster infusion actually proved a fine tonic for my theatrical task that evening. I was wonderful, darling! (Burp!)
Always good to be in the hands of Nick Anton and his crew. Dunamaise old timer Kate Heffernan, newly returned from Tasmania and back on home turf, popped in to say G’day! From the ground floor stage to the dressing rooms on the 11th floor (I jest – just!) and back again will suffice as a warm up. (To the tune of Camptown Races) “Oh the Dunamaise Dressing Rooms are very high, very high, nearly in the sky etc.” Ah, they’re not really. It’s just when your tummy’s full of chips….
I took the opportunity to visit a couple of local Laois schools with Dunamaise director Louise Donlon and put some of the chisellers through their paces in an enjoyable introduction to acting. (Louise’s Ophelia had the school hall in floods!)
The Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray next. Haven’t they a grand café there?

Droiched Arts Centre, Drogheda: Friday 2 & Saturday 3 September

Fine fare in West 29 restolounge. That’s a new one for me. A restolounge. Freshened up in their restorooms before I left to visit Oliver Plunkett’s head. My first time meeting the man. I must say I was a bit moved.
Some grand, winding, hilly streets in Drogheda and I felt a bit like Theseus as I asked after An Droichead Arts Centre exact location. Sure enough I was gradually reeled in towards the town’s labyrinthine core. I wonder where the Greek lad parked his car when he went after the Bull-Man. Inside An Droichead we enjoyed a courteous welcome. We were well looked after. Great thing about touring with a show is meeting all the different teams behind these venues. Different accents, approaches, audiences, accoutrements dans les dressing rooms et cetera.

Solstice Arts Centre, Navan: Tuesday 30 & Wednesday 31 August

Ah Navan! Strolled through town after our cue to cue in search of sustenance. Found a kebab restaurant, sat down to read and ordered kubideh with pitta bread. Three customers and the cook were conversing to the point where I had to put my book down and just listen in to their chat. The Iraq pronunciation of “knife” or “Knor” compared to the Turkish was put up for notice. The cook took great pleasure in his example of the hard K. I was delighted. Like I was in Izmir, Co. Meath.
Some family and my old friend Colm made it up from Cork to see the show the first night there. Lots of “Corka-cork-cork-cork!” as Paul Reid’s valorous man might put it.
I have fond/painful memories of The Solstice Arts Centre when Theatre Lovett’s one man show A Man in Half performed there a few years back. After a cracking show I ended up in Navan Hospital with a mightily wounded shin. We’ll say nothin’. Met Artistic Director Belinda Quirke for a chat after the Wednesday show. She welcomed me back. First played Solstice with A Picture of Me in 2008 also directed by Mikel Murfi. Then back again with A Man in Half and a sore shin. And now back with B for Baby. See you soon, B for Belinda.

How the Commission B for Baby Came About

I’m writing this in the dressing room of the new and very tasty Lyric Theatre in Belfast. It’s Sunday and our last day in Belfast. (Like New York they do shows on Sunday here and take the Monday off). This week we opened the Abbey Theatre’s B for Baby here. First stop on a long and lovely tour of Ireland. Went quite well too. (Standing ovations. Ahem!) One local man took great joy in informing me afterwards “So now so! Your next few audiences have a lot to live up to. Hah?” He was delighted with himself. With the show and with the audience’s contribution to the whole affair. He was right. They were a great audience.

I know this particular Baby very well as the show was originally commissioned by Theatre Lovett. You see, Muireann Ahern and I asked Carmel Winters to write a show for adults. Not children but adults. Huh?

In 2008, Carmel came to see A Picture of Me, a one man show for families that I had written and performed in at The Ark followed by a national tour. After seeing this show, Carmel expressed a real interest in writing a play for adults about characters with special needs. 3 years on and B for Baby was born.

Let me tell you a little about that earlier show.

A Picture of Me was set in the room of a man called P, in a residential home for people with ‘special needs’, as he went about preparing Christmas dinner for a family that would never arrive. We learn that P’s parents, his lifelong friends and protectors, are dead. His siblings dispersed.

The piece was inspired by my sister Aoife, a woman with Down’s Syndrome. It is infused with her unique ‘otherness’, her love of performance, her loyalty to her parents and their loyalty to her. Their way of life. Their love.

I wanted to make a show where the ‘star’ of the show, the central character, was different to most of the people in the audience. Our star had special needs. We all have special needs but… you know what I mean.

I have performed a lot of work for children. A lot. In A Picture of Me I wanted them and their adult accomplices to follow the journey of this guy. This funny man. Where child looks up at adult with a quizzical – What’s wrong with the man? – look in their eyes. I wished for them to laugh with P, at him, at themselves, to care for him and his situation. To witness his otherness, the amazing artistry he could conjure and apply to his daily life, to his daily invention, his re-telling of a Christmas memory. The memory of his mother. I wanted the audience to empathise with him when his world is visited by the reality of his loneliness and his loss.

My characterization of P was wholly inspired by my sister, Aoife. I dedicated the show to her. (To this day she still takes the mickey out of it and P’s antics.)

I am indebted to Mikel Murfi not only for his wonderful direction of A Picture of Me but also for the support and guidance he gave me throughout the entire creative process.

Your Comments & Reviews

2 Comments

I went to see the performance on a whim , and am so glad i did ! the acting was powerful by both actors , the play itself is an emotional rollercoaster from laughter to sadness , I thoroughly enjoyed the experience , well done to all who were involved

Went to see B for Baby in Navan’s Solstice theatre last week and it was wonderful. So funny and so moving. Both actors were terrific. If it’s in your area highly recommend you go and see it. :-)

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