WHEN trying to describe what it is Ann Blake does, it is hard to pin down one thing – an actor, a playwright, a director, and musician among other things – but a “performer” is how Ann describes herself.
Having taken her award-winning show ‘The Morning After the Life Before’ from Limerick to as far as North America, the performer has taken her story, and Ireland’s, to many different audiences.
“This show is a two-hander, it’s myself and a colleague, a friend, an amazing person, called Lucia Smith, who has the very hard job of doing everything on stage while I stand around and talk to the ˜audience.
“So it’s my own story, I play myself, it’s my own life, my own journey, and she plays everyone else in my life, like my parents, a teacher, a bureaucrat, my partner. Like, she has to turn around and be a different person. The term would be a cast of thousands.”
Explaining how the show arose from the marriage equality referendum in Ireland, Ann says she wanted to do some kind of “activist art” and was accepted for the HatchLK theatre development scheme in the Belltable that year, giving her the chance to work on her show.
“I wanted to write a play about the referendum, to get people to vote yes.”
“I knew I didn’t want it to be about me and I didn’t want to be in it. Well, the play is about me, and I’m in it,” she says laughing.
‘The Morning After the Life Before’ has been touring for more than two years now, and recently reached the milestone of 70 shows. It has won Best Production at London in Ontario on the festival circuit, and has returned to Canada since then, as well as performing at New York’s Origin 1st Irish theatre festival.
With the success of her show, Ann still reflects on the grassroots opportunity of learning about theatre, through Limerick Youth Theatre, which she describes as “essential”.
“Most theatre practitioners – writers, performers, directors – who have come out of Limerick have come through Limerick Youth Theatre.
“If you go to a show, and there’s a Limerick actor or actress, or writer in the programme, chances are they came through Limerick Youth Theatre. Youth theatre is over-16’s it’s every Saturday, and it’s kind of professional training, so you’re not just doing a show, you’re getting trained by people who are working in the field.
“Directors, actors and that actually come and then you get to do shows that are pretty high standard. Most people are drawn to performance at first and then they realise ‘actually I want to be a director, I want to be a stage manager, or a writer or whatever. But they discover that because they have a space to do it.”
For the full interview, and more podcasts, visit www.limerickpost.ie/podcasts