(The following article appeared in the Irish Times, 11/17.)
Hardy role reclaimed from a great
ARTS: ‘IT WAS NEVER, ever the intention to become a director, and therefore an artistic director and therefore all of this.” The “this” to which the modest little gesture of Joe Dowling’s hand refers is probably the most impressive theatre building of the 21st century. We are sitting in a public area high up in the extraordinary new (Tyrone) Guthrie Theatre, which opened in 2006 on the banks of the Mississippi in Minneapolis, writes FINTAN O’TOOLE
Jean Nouvel’s dreamy, twilight-blue swirl of forms is an architectural masterpiece but also an extraordinary tribute to the impact that Dowling has had in this old mill city since he left Dublin almost 15 years ago. His ability to raise $125 million (€84 million) to create a hub of three theatres is a mark of his standing, not just as a theatre director but as a public figure.
And yet, this morning, he is trying to explain how all of “this” seems almost accidental. For at this moment he is what he has not been for 21 years – a working actor coming down from the high of last night’s performance. With a crackle of expectation and curiosity in the air, he had opened as Frank Hardy in a play with which his other life as a director will always be associated, Brian Friel’s Faith Healer . It was an extraordinary act of exposure, returning not just to the stage but to an austere and demanding play in which he has to perform two lengthy monologues. Returning, too, to a ghost that has haunted Irish theatre for almost 30 years.
Faith Healer on the Guthrie Web site: http://www.guthrietheater.org/faithhealer
Visit Stage Voices blog: http://stagevoices.typepad.com/stage_voices/