Showtime: ‘The Number’ at the 16th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

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So half of the run of ‘The Number’ in the 16th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival has been completed. Last night was the fourth show of an eight show run. It’s been satisfying but quite exhausting thus far. Due to poor time management I have squandered my holiday allowance from my regular paying job on fripperies like foreign travel later in the year. Hence each day this week I have put on my work hat, toiled away at the coalface of office administration before making my way into town for the less lucrative, but more rewarding creative work life.

Sunday was the get-in. We had access to the Teachers’ Club theatre from 10am. I arrived on time. My lighting guy (I feel all notional about the fact that there exists a ‘lighting’ guy’ that I can lay claim to for a week) was downstairs chatting to the lighting technician from the Moat Theatre in Naas. He was setting up the lighting rig for ‘I see you Tom Kennedy’ by Fior Sceal Theatre. Fior Sceal is a Naas group who is performing its play at the 2.30pm matinee and 7.30pm evening slot (whereas my one man show ‘The Number’ is paired as a double bill with an American one man show by Ty Autry called ‘A Southern Fairytale’). Our shows have the 4pm matinee slot and 9pm evening show until Saturday.

My lighting is simple. By 11.30 the lights were ready and I did a run-through on stage of my piece. This was the first time I had ever performed it in a theatre. It’s not the first time my show has been performed however. Last June 2018, the Acting Out Group produced a show called ’25: The Decriminalisation Monologues’ which ran for a week as part of the Pride festival in Dublin in the Outhouse theatre. I wrote a piece around the subject of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland in 1993. I was quite daunted by the request – I was only 18 in 1993. What could I possibly say that could have any resonance on that subject? My own circumstance as a closeted teenager in first year at university seemed the most relevant. So I wrote a piece about a character that is very loosely autobiographical and what was going through his head during that momentous year. My piece became ‘The Number’. Acting Out gave the piece an impressive treatment in Outhouse last year.

Being healthy of ego I decided there was life in ‘The Number’ yet – as well as there being life in my old carcass. So this year I decided to rework the piece and submit it to the festival. The casting was a torturous decision. I immediately cast myself. Well why not? Writing for yourself is a sure fire way of getting roles. I’d written a full length play in 2018 called ‘Mother’s little treasure’ that ran in the Pearse Centre, as well as a short piece called ‘The invitation’. The last time I appeared on stage however was in 2017 with my hour long play ‘An unexpected party’ which also ran in the festival. That was two years ago. I felt quite Norma Desmond about my ‘return’ (not a comeback) to the stage in a one man show.

I got two run-throughs on stage on Sunday. Monday was opening day and also a two show day. I was backstage and in positon by 2pm so that I was ready to hit the boards on time.

The run seems be going well. The audiences are responding to my piece. I’ve been told that ‘The Number’ and ‘A Southern Fairytale’ are effective companion pieces as both deal with being young and gay – mine from the glamourous environs of Limerick, Ty’s from the perspective of the Deep South of the USA.

There are four more shows to go. So far it’s been a blast. I hope you can come along to see ‘The Number’. It runs until Saturday in the Teachers’ Club at 9pm at 36 Parnell Square. There’s a very salubrious bar upstairs where you can enjoy a refreshing après-show aperitif. It’s been good to see some friends in the audience.

Book your tickets HERE.

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