(O'Toole’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 11/30. Colgan talks at the end of the above clip.)
One morning 30 years ago Michael Colgan woke in a panic at four o’clock. He was, then as now, a man of what he himself calls “divine self-confidence”. But he found himself sitting bolt upright, sweating profusely. “You know when your neck gets wet from terror?” He is sitting, the picture of professional ease, in his large office across the road from the Gate Theatre, an institution he has run with an haughty sense of command for the 30 years since.
You feel like saying: no, Michael, I don’t know. Of all the necks in Dublin, yours is perhaps the one I can least imagine wet with terror. Two years before this panic attack, he had taken over the Dublin Theatre Festival, which had been perennially in crisis, and made a huge success of the job. He was already imperious. He smoked cigars. He made sweeping statements about how Irish theatre wasn’t really all that good. He mocked the Arts Council for “gross ignorance”.
Even more shockingly, he combined exotic tastes for non-traditional theatre with the instincts of a brazen showman. “I love selling”, he said in 1982, “and I love getting publicity.”
Visit the Web site of the Gate Theatre: http://www.gatetheatre.ie/