A Woman of No Importance | Interview with Marion O'Dwyer
Words: Declan Ferry
Acclaimed actress Marion O’Dwyer is eagerly awaiting her return to The Gate in the long-awaited production of A Woman of No Importance. The former Ballykissangel star takes to the boards as Lady Hunstanton in the Oscar Wilde favourite, opening next week (Tuesday, July 24), and she can’t wait to get started. Speaking to entertainment.ie, she said: “I was very chuffed indeed to be asked to play this role. It is quite different to the roles I played last year in the Gate, Big Mama in ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ and Aunt Eily in ‘The Speckled People’. It’s always great fun to play a variety of roles.
“I play Lady Hunstanton, whose country house everyone in the play is visiting. I love her, she’s funny and warm and I’m looking forward to wearing my beautiful Peter O’Brien costume.”
The Gate has a special place in Marion’s heart, as it was where she took some of the first steps in her acting career. She said: “I have a special fondness for the Gate because it is where I first worked as an actor. Michael Colgan gave me my first job in ‘grown-up theatre’ many moons ago, and also gave me great encouragement. Whenever I work in the Gate I remember my young self, daring to dream of becoming an actress and I still pinch myself that it came true.”
Oscar Wilde’s works have retained their popularity the world over and Marion believes the key to his success was his ability to make astute observations on life, which are still relevant today.
She said: “It’s a very funny play as you would expect from Oscar Wilde yet there are scenes of riveting drama too. “His mastery of language and dramaturgical skill is very satisfying to work on, presenting an enormous technical challenge to the actor. I have enjoyed watching rehearsals and seeing other actors like Stephen Brennan, Ingrid Craigie and Deirdre Donnelly make it look effortless; it’s like a masterclass in acting.”
In terms of preparation for the role, O'Dwyer said: “It’s no different to any other, research into the world of the character, the kind of life she would have lived, with particular attention to the etiquette and mores of the English high society of the time. “Have I much in common with Lady Hunstanton? Well I do like to give parties, although I haven’t got around to buying the stately pile just yet! It often happens that a character infuses one’s own life during rehearsals (which is probably why I used the word ‘one’ just there). Of course some of your own self finds its way into your portrayal of a character, as Lady H herself says ‘human nature is permanently one.’"
The production, directed by Tony Award-winner, Patrick Mason, will have previews from July 19 before its opening night on July 24. The plot centres around a party given in Ms Hunstanton’s country home when it is announced that Gerald Arbuthnot is to be appointed secretary to Lord Illingworth, but a secret Mr Arbuthnot’s mother is holding may stand in the way of his new career. Marion added: “I always get nervous ahead of a first preview and opening night, in fact I always get nervous before I go onstage any day of the week. As my dear departed Dad used to say: ‘The time to be nervous, is when you’re not nervous’.
A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE at THE GATE THEATRE | PREVIEWS: JULY 19 | OPENING NIGHT: JULY 24
Tickets: Previews/Matinees: €25 | Opening Night: €32 | Monday: ALL TICKETS €25 | Tuesday-Thursday: €32 | Friday-Saturday: €35 | Students: €15 (Mon – Thurs, subject to availability).
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Monday 16th July 2012 | Theatre
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