Deirdre Molloy’s Blog

Deirdre Molloy’s Blog

Go behind the scenes of The Plough and the Stars with Deirdre Molloy, who plays Mrs. Gogan

Hanging around the stage door on Temple Street

Part 4 – 4 September 2012

“Dreaming in public is an important part of our job description, as science writers, but there are bad dreams as well as good dreams. We’re dreamers, you see, but we’re also realists, of a sort.” – William Gibson

Although it would have been nice to be back on the Abbey stage after twelve year’s absence there’s something very special about performing the play pretty much where The Plough is set and only five minutes from 422, North Circular Road where it was written.

The lovely lads of the cast have taken to singing ‘When You and I were Young’ (or ‘Nora’, as we call it) together in their dressing room before the show every night. I was taking some air at the stage door on the first night as they blasted it out at the tops of their voices with the dressing room windows wide open. A group of tourists were passing by and they stopped and listened, grinning, giggling and nudging each other as they wondered where this random music was coming from on a Dublin street. When the song finished they stood for a moment, somewhat bewildered, and then walked on. As they passed me one of them stopped and asked “Zis happens always in Ireland? Ze men singing?”. “It does”, said I with a wink and a smile, “It certainly does.” No comment on the fact that I was in full costume and makeup… maybe the way I looked just seemed right considering what they’d just witnessed.

Joe Hanley, our fabulous Fluther Good, was standing in the same spot earlier that day when a Polish lady approached him with outstretched hand. Joe was about to apologise that he had no change on him when he realised she was holding out 2 euro 50 cents. She apologised that she didn’t have any more change to give him. A testament to Joan O’Clery’s brilliant costume design and maybe to the authenticity of Joe’s look as Fluther. Joe didn’t take the cash. I would have!

You never know what might happen when you pay attention to the world going by in north inner city Dublin!

Joe Hanley as Fluther Good

A garage in Rathfarnham and the ghost of Abbey past

Part 3 – 22 August 2012

“You have disgraced yourself again, is this to be the recurring celebration of the arrival of Irish genius?” – WB Yeats

When I was in my mid teens I was doing a clear out of our garage at home to earn my pocket money (or possibly as punishment for some misbehavior) when I came across a battered old brown leather suitcase. It was wrecked, covered in dust and full of single items of footwear. Just before I chucked it and its contents out I noticed that there were initials burned onto the top. Someone had attempted to scratch them out but I could clearly see that they were a W, a B and a Y, in that order. Upon interrogation of my Dad I discovered that his father had worked as a labourer on the team who refurbished Thoor Ballylee for Yeats and when Grandad left his home in Kiltarten, Co. Galway for Dublin to seek his fortune, not only did William Butler Yeats give him an old suitcase in which to carry his few items of clothing but he also wrote Grandad a reference! “Was said reference also decaying amongst a pile of mouldy shoes?” I demanded. No, that had been “put away somewhere safe” and was immediately dug out for bewildered inspection.

So the man who had been my favourite poet throughout my secondary school years and who had been amongst the gang who created The Abbey Theatre also happened to be a friend of my Grandfather’s? Apparently not. According to my Dad, despite Yeats’ great kindness to his father, Jack Molloy was quoted as having described WB as a bit of a lunatic “always going around Coole Park looking for fairies”!

True story.

So that’s my statement of association before admitting that the above quote from Mr. Yeats to the rioters during the first production of The Plough is one of my favourites. I love its arrogance but also its genuine, if naïve, intent and I really really wish I’d been there to witness it. I wonder would I have been amongst the rioters and if I were, would it have been because of the appearance of a prostitute on the stage or because I was whipped into a frenzy of anger at the perceived disloyalty to the men who had died for our freedom.

It was Barry Ward (the bossy fellah!) who drew my attention to the quote from Lieutenant Langon which was used on the poster for the first version of this production: “Th’ time is rotten ripe for revolution”, which made me wonder about what it would take to incite the modern, somewhat jaded and lethargic Irish people to riot. Also to wonder what the 1916 revolutionaries and ordinary people of Dublin would think of Ireland today after all they suffered on our behalf, leading me to remember another quote from my pal WB:
“Was it for this… …that all that blood was shed” – September 1913

Completing the Trilogy

Part 2 – 27 July 2012

There’s an additional sprinkle of special in this for me because I get to complete O’Casey’s Dublin Trilogy with this production having played Minnie in Lynne Parker’s production of The Shadow of a Gunman in The Gate and Mary in Mark Lambert’s production of Juno and the Paycock in The Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh. (Sorry, I’m rubbish on dates and the internet isn’t being helpful.)

I read or heard it said somewhere that O’Casey doesn’t write about politics, he writes about people who are living through a certain time. Fair enough, but the certain time in this play is just before and during the 1916 Rising. Ireland was fighting Britain for Independence, while Irish men were fighting alongside the British in the First World War. No politics in there so! One of the things that struck me most about the previous incarnation (it’s going to be very different, you heard it here first) of this production was the time these astonishing characters were living through. I felt Wayne’s production had brought the goings on outside of the tenement house through its inhabitants onto the stage and into our psyche in a way that no other version I’ve seen did. It got under my skin. I loved it.

There was a very interesting process at play in the rehearsal room because this is a new version of a recent version of The Plough. A fantastic production is being picked apart by its creators and rebuilt. Although most of the original cast and all of the original creatives are back there are six new actors (me included), there are nearly new set and costume designs, and there’s definitely a feeling of it being a different production but yet not starting from scratch. It’s exciting. Standing on the shoulders of giants and all that!

Returning to the stage

Part 1 – 20 July 2012

“Home, is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there
I come home, she lifted up her wings
I guess that this must be the place”

David Byrne

The Abbey has changed since I played here last. It’s a bit more like a grown up theatre. It’s good. I didn’t expect about 50 people to be in the room for the first read through though… me nerves! It was lovely all the same – a representative from each department was there and gave us a run down on how their department was working on the show and how we could get involved and there was a great feeling of us all being in it together which was what made me decide to have a go at this blog (that and Barry Ward telling me I should. He’s very bossy!).

I’m playing Mrs. Gogan in the forthcoming production of The Plough and The Stars. I’m both excited and terrified, just the way an actor should be. It’s been 12 years since I performed on The Abbey stage and 8 years since I performed on any stage. I took time out from acting and directing to work behind the scenes in festivals and events. I was very happy at it until my dearest pal, Cathy Belton, told me over dinner one evening that she wasn’t available to play Jinny in the touring production of The Plough and all of a sudden I wanted that part more than I want to go back in time to 1991 and not turn down Sean Penn the night he asked me to go to Lilly’s with him (I had rehearsals the next morning!)… but that’s a story for over a pint after the show if you come to see it.

I’m not sure how or why I was lucky enough to get from wishful thinking that night to actually playing the part but here I am. Cathy made Jinny look easy, she isn’t. Making my version of her along with Wayne Jordan and the rest of the company is, however, one of the most exciting challenges and the happiest times I’ve had in my working life.

Cathy Belton as Mrs. Gogan in 2010 production of The Plough and the Stars.

Your Comments & Reviews


Dear Deirdre.

I saw the play yesterday in Bath and the scene that had me almost crying was you and Roxanna when you brought her out into the sun.

I don’t know why but it summed up what it must have been like living in a Dublin slum- the cold and the damp.

But the two of yis were the best things in a wonderful production.

Love to you both


PS “the Granny” was with Countess Markievicz at Stephen’s Green and ended up in Kimainham Goal.

I was profoundly moved by Jordan’s The Plough, which I saw last Monday. It was theatre at its best! But all through it I was strcuk by how like Deirdre Molloy, Mrs Gogan was… I worked on festivals in Kilkenny with Dee for several years but decided my eyes must have been deceiving me - I didn’t know she was a star actor. Well done Dee, Wayne and all the crew! Cathy

Delighted to see this show is manifesting for you; ‘a sprinkle of special’ (as you so eloquently put it!)

I can’t wait to see it, and your bright light burning away *in* it.

Break a leg darlin’! xx

You know what they say ... it’s like riding a bicycle. Sometimes you put the bike in the shed for a while. Sometimes some fecker takes your bike and you wonder will you ever get another. But when you do ... it’s the most natural thing in the world. And the best. Just like you, Miss Molloy.

Deirdre you are right, it is a difficult role.  It is almost like learning a new language.  I played it in 1993 Directed by Peter Sheridan and I was around the same age that you are now.  It will be no bother to you.  Enjoy it.  Great to see you back on the boards again.  Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah. xxxx

Go on the Dee Molly!
Excited to see you back on the boards on what HAS to be
Be a fab show - no pressure.
Break a leg

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