Thursday, June 30, 2005

Frank Kelly's Lamp

Isn't gossip great? You drop a little grain of sand, next thing you
know you've got a whopping pearl necklace of an anecdote. Like someone says you're a provincial playwright, when in fact your show is currently and undeniably playing in the metropolis. That’s what may have happened to playwright, Tom Murphy recently.

At least that’s the way I heard it. Frank Kelly seems to have heard even less about the writer’s travails.

“I’m really not at all interested in the petty politics of Irish theatre,” says Kelly, closing off that particular avenue. As it happens, he has been talking to Murphy the previous night, but their conversation centred on The Sanctuary Lamp.

Before getting involved with the role of the world-weary priest in Gallowglass’s latest production, Kelly says he had not read Murphy’s play. “I like it that way. I love it when you can arrive at a play with no preconceptions.”

The current tour – which features a thoroughly intimidating number of dates all over Ireland – is hard work. “When there is so much travelling to do it can get very stressful. You’re moving around so much and you keeping having those little heart attacks, ‘where have I left my wallet, my phone. And then, all the town around Ireland have changed so much, with ring roads and bypasses and roundabouts…”

After which, it takes a little work to get into the correct state of mind each evening. “I’m kind of going into meditation by about five o’clock. The way Murphy writes – with lots of unfinished sentences – is harder to act than when a writer writes in complete sentences all the time. But it’s good writing for the mind. It makes you keep focused and sharp all of the time.”

Kelly turns out to be unexpectedly tetchy when the subject of Father Ted, and more importantly, Father Jack Hackett comes up. Ok, his character from the comedy TV series doesn’t really come up until I mention it, but I’m still surprised that Kelly reacts so strongly.

“That series was really a long time ago…but still people want to put a mad photograph of Father Jack up every time I’m interviewed.” But isn’t that also a sign that you’ve done good work? “Sure.”

“A long time ago, I played a lot of guards and people used to say to me do you think you’ll get stuck with playing guards. But now people don’t remember that: now it’s priests…”

Lately, however, Kelly seems to be batting for the other side. In his spare time, he has written a novel and is in the process of polishing off. This time, rather than holy orders, he has been taking order from below, writing a Gothic horror novel tentatively titled, Satanic Bargain.


Post a Comment

<< Home