Flight plan

Seeing the words you have written come alive on stage for the first time is a thrilling experience.

Well it thrilled me!

The more I think about the more I am mean with myself for not having devoted more time to writing for the stage.

Like most things in my life I stumbled into writing plays by complete chance.

About ten years ago I was putting on an information day in Donegal for a community group that had hired me to compile research and then present it to a conference.

I stated that a small dramatization of the data might go down well after the lunch.

They committee agreed then they looked at me.

It was a look that told me that they expected me to come up with something.

I felt totally out of my depth, but I gave it a go.

I wrote a short one man play, perhaps 15 minutes long.

There was money in the budget to hire a professional director and actor.

I went to the rehearsals and I was hooked.

On the day of the conference the short one man play had more impact on people than all of the power point slides and experts at the lectern.

The following year my first full length play, ’The Flight of the Earls’ premiered in the Balor Theatre in Ballybofey here in Donegal.

It was a proper opening night in that the playwright was a bag of nerves.

The Arts Council had supported the project as they clearly thought it had artistic merit.

They funded after the script development after the premier and the final piece was created.

That version of ‘Flight’ toured the West of Ireland in 2007.

With as much happenstance as I wrote the play in the first place I was asked to give a talk on Seán O’Casey for the Glasgow St Patrick’s festival.

The director of the theatre company that were putting non Juno and the Paycock got chatting with me about my interest in theatre.

It is a Glasgow based company with an excellent track record.

Their production of ‘Juno’ was excellent and cheered to the rafters.

A long story short they asked to perform ‘Flight’ and I agreed.

A couple of nights ago I got a late night email from the director.

He said if I was Donegal standard time would I call him.

He was utterly energised by what he had just witnessed and he wanted to share the moment.

Fir the first time he had both actors in the room for a reading.

A reading is just what it sounds like the actors aren’t in character; they sit down and read through the script out loud.

The first time that ‘Flight’ had a reading was ion the beach at Port na Murray.

That place plays an important role in the back story of one of the characters and we thought it would be a fitting place for the characters to speak for the first time.

I paced up and down as two colleagues read the script.

There was a few light bulb moments as I realised that I had created something in a character on the page that I had not previously been aware of.

Writing means re-writing and I went back to the screen and let Daragh Gallagher take me where he wanted to go.

Just as my foray into writing for the stage was a product of chance and timing so is the fact that a decade after the play was written it is being performed again.

For the first time outside Ireland Flight of the Earls will be staged in the Shed Theatre in Glasgow on Saturday June 7th and Sunday June 8th there will be four performances.



I know that my play is in good hands. I love working with people who take their work seriously and this theatre company iwhich s Glasgow based also has a commitment to social issues.

Both actors are young professionals and they’re already excited about the project.

The craft of acting fascinates. To see professional thespians up close and professional is a wonderful thing.

I have no idea how they do what they do.

It is a wonderful craft.

I cannot think of any civilisation that has not developed some form of theatre.

Theatre is a classroom  for life and plays  have a way of teaching us how to live, of outlining what can happen to us, how we should react in given situations.

Once more Peadar O’Donnell and Daragh Gallagher will come to life in front of a live audience.

I think the pair of them have much to teach us.

Two fine young actors are now in rehearsals.

I can’t wait…

Leave a Reply