In a strange way, my rehearsal for this play began about four years ago. I am sure he has long forgotten but back in 2008, in my eternal search for the perfect audition monologue, I asked John Morton if he knew of any gems and sure enough he told me to look up Medea Redux by Neil Labute. And I can honestly say it was one of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten in my theatre life.
I read the play and immediately went back to page one and read it again. not because i felt like I missed anything or didn’t understand something, i simply wanted to luxuriate in the writing, the imagery, the genius of Neil LaBute over and over. It is so hard to find, even today, strong, powerful, ballsy female parts and so to find this was so heartening, it made me excited about theatre, about acting. I knew in that instant that I was absolutely going to play this part at some point in the future. It was my Hamlet.
So when I heard the mutterings one night in Cleeres about Neil LaBute having his Devious debut, needless to say I was very excited. To be afforded the opportunity to play this part is both fantastic and absolutely daunting. The sheer volume of words, the challenge of holding an audiences attention for 35 minutes, doing the writing justice and giving “Medea” a chance to say her piece are all very daunting but equally very exhilarating tasks.
Before beginning bash, i never expected it to be as much a collaborative process between the four actors as it has been. when we rehearse together it is such a supportive and open environment which is a blessing when each one of us are dealing with such traumatic material. The amount of time we have all had to spend alone simply getting to grips with the logistics of the piece before being able to present it to each other is something i have never experienced before.
It’s interesting how pure fear can make you do things you never imagined were possible. I now have all 18 pages in my head. I have no idea how but they are in there and the only thing I can attribute it to is a mixture of fear and the utter brilliance of Neil LaBute’s writing. It flows like Shakespeare and when something is that enjoyable to read it seems to make it that much easier to learn.
Monday is going to be a milestone in my theatre life. I am so looking forward to getting on stage, first of all, to play this part, but also to introduce a Kilkenny audience to Neil LaBute’s work. Hopefully this won’t be the last we’ll see of Labute in Kilkenny.
Annette O’Shea performs Medea Redux in bash: latterday plays by Neil LaBute from October 17th – 22nd in Cleere’s Theatre, Kilkenny.