Sandra Doyle - Box Office manager in the Civic by day, actor by night

By Hayden Moore

After the hugely successful first run of the play ‘What About Us?’ in the Loose End of The Civic Theatre back in May, the hard-hitting play returns for three-nights in the Civic’s Studio theatre.

Following the Grant family, ‘What About Us?’ by Sean Ronan tackles alcohol and the effect it has on the family home, with it’s central character Pauline getting to grips with her alcoholism as her family life crumbles around her.

What About Us cast

The cast of What About Us?

Sandra Doyle has been the box-office manager in the Civic by day for the past 18 years, and has now become a character actor in the Civic by night since she started working with Sean Ronan over a year ago.

Living in Tallaght all her life, Sandra caught up with The Echo to tell us about the joke that lead her to acting, performing in front of an audience she sells tickets to, and preparing for the role of ‘Pauline’.

Who do you play in ‘What About Us?’

I play Pauline, the mammy. She’s a woman who works four 10 hour shifts a week and has to try juggle her family life that is just falling apart, her kids don’t listen to her and her husband is an alcoholic that suffers with depression and she has to juggle all of that.

What inspired you to start acting?

It actually started off as a joke between me and Sean, the plays director. Because I’ve been working in the Civic’s box office for 18 years now and he’d be coming in and out over the years with his theatre company ‘Out of the Blue’, I’d always be joking with him saying “if you write a play around me I’ll be in it”.

Then one day last year he came up to me to tell me to put my money where my mouth is, and I ended up playing a role in his play ‘The Surgery’ on the main stage. Afterwards I told him that I would never act again but here we are.

Are you excited to get to play this character again?

I can’t wait to get a chance to play Pauline again. Every woman can relate to her and she’s just a normal woman who has all of these problems, and loves a drink.

But the major thing about Pauline is that alcohol causes all of her problems.

I saw the play the first time around and your character goes through an intense amount of stress, how do you prepare for a role like that?

This will sound mad right, but everyday life has prepared me for the role. There are times when I’m at home talking to my own son and I might as well be talking to my son who doesn’t listen to me in the play.

Reading the scripts, rehearsing, memorising the lines and then forgetting them the next day, the stress from all of that helps me with Pauline. See she’s just so relatable and I can relate to her in so many ways as a woman.

How did you meet the plays creator, Sean Ronan?

Just from seeing him over the years coming in and out of the civic. The way he writes these stories is brilliant because they deal with everyday real-life events, like ‘What About Us?’ deals with how much of a negative effect alcohol can have on the family home.

Have you done much acting before ‘What About Us?’

My first play was ‘The Surgeon’ last year with Sean and it was nerve-racking stuff. I had my family and friends in the audience, as well as people who would know me from the box-office and I had to do this part where I describe a dream I had the night before.

So, they’re sitting there in the crowd, and it’s my first time on the stage and I’m describing this dream in full-blown detail about the night me and George Clooney had together, it was gas. But that is such a buzz and I love being on the stage, I love acting.

Have you got any words of advice for people looking to get into acting?

It’s something I never said I’d do but oh god I’m so happy I did it. Reading scripts and the whole process is great, I’m not saying I’m an actor by any means but I can say that it’s something I’ve done.

If it’s something you want to do then do it, it’s a real eye-opener to know how it works and you don’t necessarily have to be on the stage, you could be behind the scenes on lights or something else. It’s great, just do it.

You can catch Sandra in action in ‘What About Us?’ on November 15-17 with ticket’s available from civictheatre.ie or The Civic box office.

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