Dublin Showcase 2019

November 26th, 2019

On the 26th of September 2019 a group of seventeen drama school graduates from across the UK ventured to Rose Bruford for the first rehearsal of our FDS Dublin Showcase 2019. Trust me when I say ventured, all the rail lines to Sidcup station were being worked on that weekend but via bus, car and foot – we eventually made it. Despite the stressful travel morning it was a very productive first rehearsal. The knowledge and professionalism gained from our varied courses and schools meant that everyone was well prepared. There was an immediate bond formed - whether from the North or South of Ireland or from Irish parentage - a distinct feeling of home and culture shared meant we immediately gelled and got straight to work.Members of our cohort had that renowned Irish charm and natural comedic timing including Aoife MacNamara from Cork whose monologue from Bombshells by Joanna Murray-Smith has us all in wrinkles of laughter from that day until the showcase itself.

We soon discovered others had a flair for singing, a mix of Musical Theatre trained performers and folk singers. This allowed us to add another dimension to the showcase and a number of us showed our musicality and acting through song. It was very exciting for me to open the showcase with one of my favourite songs, Across the Sea by the Wailin’ Jennys. Our musicality was useful to showcase as actor-musos have become so integral to the industry in the last few years. Fionn Gardner, who trained at Central School of Speech and Drama, sang a captivating rendition of Leave by Glen Hansard during the showcase, whilst skilfully playing his guitar.

Throughout the process of rehearsals, we had the excellent guidance and direction of Niamh Dowling and Jude Tisdall from FDS. After only two days of rehearsal we had a showcase to be proud of. Now it was time to head to Dublin and for some, like Colm Gleeson, time to head home. Agent Alex Cusack welcomed us to our final day of rehearsal at Spotlight on Bow Street, adding her expertise to tighten and polish our performances. Then over the next couple of days, we gained invaluable knowledge through workshop discussions from Filmmaker, Shimmy Marcus and “the mother of Irish casting” herself, Maureen Hughes. We also gained a Spotlight pen, notepad and tote bag – I mean, who doesn’t love a freebie? Our showreel scenes were shot with Conor from Spotlight who was superb, helping us to feel confident, relaxed and screen-ready.

Wednesday 6th November was showcase day and of course, I woke up ill and with half a voice, my Belfast tones strained and tired from coughing throughout the night – not the proverbial luck of the Irish. I received an immediate outpouring of support and advice from our group chat on how to gain as much of my voice back as possible in time for the showcase in the afternoon. The whole morning my fellow actors checked on me, Peter Kinkaid saving me with his last sacred Strepsil for my sore throat. For me this really summed up my experience of the FDS Showcase - making new friends and industry connections but more importantly, showing how supportive we can be of one another in such a competitive profession.

The showcase was a huge success, with a great turnout and a highlight for me was performing my final piece - a duologue from The Cat’s Mother by Erica Murray - with my partner in crime, Kathleen De Santiago; my voice just holding out.

It had been one of my dreams to perform on the Gate stage in Dublin and FDS made that happen.