Producer Emma O’Brien - Urban comic thriller hits the Civic Theatre stage

By Hayden Moore

Remember when you used to play cops and robbers growing up? ‘From Both Hips’ uses that concept and is at heart a comedy, but it’s much darker than that as it follows a man hell bent on revenge after he is accidentally shot in the hip by a member of the Drugs Squad.

Originally written by local playwright Mark O’Rowe over 20 years ago, Blackbird Theatre Company brought this play back in front of a new audience at the Civic Theatre.

Emma OBrien

Emma O'Brien

Producer of the play, Emma O’Brien grew up in Springfield and attended St Mark’s Community School where she met the play’s director Helen Hannon, a teacher in St Mark’s, over 12 years ago whilst taking part in the school’s musicals – and from there, Blackbird Theatre Company was born.

Emma caught up with The Echo to tell us more about ‘From Both Hips’, a bucket list of plays between herself and Helen, and the moment she felt that the theatre was for her.

When did you know you wanted to get involved with the theatre scene?

I have always loved Theatre and Art. Ms Monaghan, a teacher I had in St Marks primary school used to study art with us and bring us to the theatre. I think this was my first taste of the arts.

My parents used to bring me to shows too, in local and larger venues. I was introduced to musicals at an early age. The feeling of going to a theatre always made me feel excited.

I love the feeling of getting caught up in a different world which is being played out on stage. Getting involved in musicals in school and plays outside school really secured my love of theatre and the arts and encouraged me to go further with this.

I studied Business and Arts Management in IADT Dun Laoghaire. This was the nail in the coffin - after this, I knew theatre was for me.

Who inspires you the most and why?

It sounds super cheesy – but honestly the people who get involved with our productions are just so inspirational. Everyone who is part of this production either works or studies full time and leads such busy lives but yet they give their all and their full commitment when it comes to learning lines, rehearsals, hashing out ideas etc. Such a truly talented amazing bunch of people.

Seen any good plays this year?

‘Grief is a Thing with Feathers’ by Enda Walsh starring Cillian Murphy. Myself and Helen went to see this in March this year. Such a powerful piece.

It most definitely stuck with us for a very long time - every now and then I still think about it. Enda Walsh can do no wrong in my eyes.

‘From Both Hips’ aside, are you working on any other projects?

We (Blackbird Theatre) are working behind the scenes on a few things at the moment. Reading has begun for ‘The Weir’ which we hope to stage early next year.

Both myself and Helen have a bucket list of plays that we hope to tick off over the next year or so including some classics, some comedies, some off the wall and some newbies.

Why ‘From Both Hips’? What drew you to this play?

We did ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ last year and we knew we wanted to do a comedy again, but a more modern comedy this time around.

We had noticed that ‘From Both Hips’ hadn’t been staged in quite some time and thought it was the perfect opportunity to jump on this and reintroduce people to this brilliant piece of work.

What was the casting process like?

The cast and crew of ‘From Both Hips’ are a collection of friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends. We like to keep our cast and crew somewhat familiar with each other as we feel this creates a strong bond that we feel is critical for any great performance.

The cast for this play; Laura Quirke, Paul Daly, Trish Levins, Mary Mc Dermott, Sean Gunnigan and Sophie Regan are all so bloody talented it was easy to cast them!

This play is over 20 years old, why do you think this play has held-up over such a long period of time?

I think its timeless because of the characters. There is at least one character that each person in the audience can relate to – either you know someone like one of the characters, or you are one of the characters.

They can expect to feel happy and sad. They will laugh and cry. They will hate and love. And all in all, have a great entertaining night at the theatre.

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