Carrigallen’s Seamus O’Rourke has moved from a full time job in carpentry to become a professional script writer, director and actor.
O’Rourke has his eggs in many baskets at the moment and they all seem to be hatching. From a new production at the Backstage Theatre in Longford to a seven night show at the All Ireland Fleadh in Cavan, with some writing, TV pilots and a home premiere thrown in, transition to full time theatre has been a fast moving train for Seamus.
Just incase the people of Leitrim had forgotten about him, Seamus is bringing his brand new play ‘The Sand Park’ written and performed by himself to the Corn Mill Theatre on Friday, July 20.
According to O’Rourke, Carrigallen is the “perfect place” to premiere his new comic production. He is bringing this one man show piece home to gauge the reaction from the local audience who he places a lot of trust in. If the play goes down well then he will organise further dates, and a tour - so the Carrigallen audience better be careful with their choice of words!
‘The Sand Park’ is the account of how James Anthony Lowery, a man in his mid fifties, came to terms with the death of his son, fifteen years ago and now more recently, his wife Rose.
Seamus O’Rourke struggles to summarise the story. He told the paper that the character has buried his son and wife in a field beside the house.
“Now he hasn’t murdered them” he clarifies quickly before going on to explain that the play is about rural Irish life and the way we cope with the inevitable, it’s a play about how life and death and humour and love and sadness all live in the same house together. Despite the obvious morbid theme O’Rourke emphasises that “90% of the play is comedy” - which will be a relief to the many fans of O’Rourke’s hilarious sketches.
So where did he conjure this one up out of? Seamus says he was having breakfast in a hotel in Athlone during a tour of Victor’s Dung. He said he heard “two ould lads” chatting about death and funerals and he “filled out the blanks” of what he didn’t hear. He said he was amused by their “jolly way of looking at things.”
Writer of Victor’s Dung, Dig, Down and The Trappe Family and amateur award winning actor and director, Seamus took the time out to speak with the Leitrim Observer last week following the opening of his other new production Halfway House Hotel in the Backstage, Longford.
All shows have been sold out for the “chaotic” show which brings to life the “mad” antics of a basement of a hotel (or it could be a psychiatric hospital according to O’Rourke.) Written and directed by the former Leitrim County footballer, the production attracted over 80 people auditioning for eleven acting roles. The Half Way House Hotel is due to perform in the Corn Mill Theatre in the Autumn.
Like hundred of others, Seamus is gearing up for the Cavan Fleadh.
He will be performing a second version of the laugh out loud Victors Dung during the fleadh. The new version, commissioned by Cavan County Council sees the hilarious Cavan farmer dealing with “green issues.” O’Rourke is delighted for the opportunity to broaden his audience at the fleadh.
But all that is not enough for the Carrigallen man. Seamus is also looking towards an eight week tour of Ireland with Ride On - the play which first brought us Victor Dung. The professional production by the Livin Dred Theatre and directed by Pauric McIntyre hits the road in November.
Seamus made the leap from writing and performing for theatre as a hobby into a full time job last year. “It beats real work” he tells the Observer. He said the transition suited him because he can create his own work, direct it and act it. He is not waiting on the other end of a phone line on a call.
O’Rourke is also dabbling with TV, he said getting anything commissioned is a “slow process” but with O’Rourke behind the wheel you can expect results. Despite the bright lights ahead, O’ Rourke stays grounded, always mindful of entertaining the local audience. He is ever thankful to the Corn Mill Theatre for allowing him to grow his talents and for continuing to support him with a venue on his doorstep and an ever appreciating audience.
The Sand Park will get it’s premiere in The Corn Mill Theatre on Friday, July 20. Admission is optional as all proceeds on the night will go to a local cancer charity.