Backstage Meets – Niall Brewster

Next Wed 31st May audiences get chance to see Niall Brewster in action in the Enchanted Croí Theatre folk musical In the Midst of Plenty. We caught up with him before hand to get little peak into his journey to the professional stage…

Q1 Where did you go to school?

I went to St Joseph’s Primary school, St Michael’s National school and then St Mel’s college. All in Longford.

Q2 Longford audiences will know you for performances over the years with local drama groups, what sparked your drive to study theatre in college and where have you studied?

My path to theatre began in 2011 when I became involved in amateur drama and it has been a fire in my belly ever since. I think it was the sound of the audience, the adrenaline rush and the feeling of share joy at the end of a play, when the audience claps and it washes over you, is what ignited the spark. In 2014 I began pursuing it professionally by training in the Gaiety School of Acting, Bow Street Academy and attending various masterclasses such as the Lecoq School in France, to hone my skill as a performer and to get a deeper understanding of the craft. This culminated in Masters in Theatre Practice and Production in NUIG 2019.
For me acting is like a blunt pencil in the sense that every time you use it, you need to sharpen it so it doesn’t go blunt from lack of use. So like the pencil, you can use your craft, your instrument, to act out and draw a picture for the audience in order to try and show them what you are feeling or striving to convey with voice, body language, movement or all of the above.

Q3 In the Midst Of Plenty performed sold out shows and was a big hit when it debuted last year. What should people coming to see the show expect?

To be completely blown away by the incredible music, singing and performances. Be prepared for joyful, heartbreak and very touching moments which will stay with you for a long time after you leave the theatre. I was brought into rehearsals in June last year and can remember hearing the music for the first time and being completely bowled over by its beauty and poignance. The various theatrical elements used to bring this story to life are amazing and will capture the imagination of the audience which will have them talking about this show for weeks. The themes of eviction and forced emigration are very much relevant today as they were nearly 200 years ago.
Our director Anne-Marie O’Sullivan and writer Amy Day have done amazing work to bring this production to life.

Q4 Theatre has the power to totally captivate you. Is there one show that you’ve seen over the years that stands out and has stayed with you?

Ha ha. There are 2 if you will indulge me. In 2017 as I ushered people to their seats in the Backstage theatre in Longford, there was a man, naked except for a loincloth walking in a circle, tethered to a cavity block. His shoulder and back hunched, tongue protruding as he bleats like a goat. I could hear the whispers from the darkness as people questioned each other unsettled by this bizarre vision enacted before them. The man on the stage was Mikel Murfi and the production was Teac Damsa’s, Swan Lake or Loch Na hEala, written and directed by Michael Keegan Dolan. This production completely blew me away. All the dancers are amazing to watch. Alexander Leonhartsberger (Jimmy) and Rachel Poirier’s movements are incredible to behold including one piece where they first meet and perform a tender dance where neither touch but informs us that here are two broken things looking to be made whole again. The music, the story, the dancers, the choreography, the acting all carry a magical quality throughout. It builds and builds until there is such a beautiful crescendo at the end that leaves the audience with such a moment of sheer joy and magical piece of theatre that it lasts with you long after the lights have been switched off and the theatre emptied as audience members leave speaking in hushed, almost reverential tones. Eye’s bright and full of wonder. Over 6 years later it is still burned in my mind. My biggest regret is that I only got to see it once.

The second I saw for the 3rd time last night (Thurs 12th May) and that is the The Man in the Women’s Shoes, written and performed by Mikel Murfi. The man is incredible to behold. The Man In The Woman’s Shoes follows Pat Farnon as he walks to do “some business” in town and back again. Murfi plays all the characters that he meets along the way, each is completely unique and different. This is an incredible performer totally in control of what images he can create mentally and physically for the audience. His follow up play I Hear You and Rejoice is equally impressive. I was completely blown away by this show and it encouraged me to travel to Paris to train in the Lecoq school for a week.

Q5 And finally if you could play any role, on stage or screen, what would that dream role be and why?

“I’ll tell ye one thing and I won’t tell ye two things, she is f##king gorgeous. (He sighs) …”
It would definitely be Billy from the play Eden by Eugene O’Brien. Billy was played by Don Wycherley and Breda by Catherine Walsh when i saw it in 2001.
It was the first play that I ever saw and it made me sit up and realise that there was a different world of theatre out there than what I’d been taught in school. Here were 2 characters talking and interacting using language that me and my friends used. These were people I saw in bars every other weekend in Longford. I think this is where my interest in theatre began so maybe someday it would be only fitting to go back to where it first began.

In the Midst of Plenty || Wed 31st May || 8pm

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