WHEN IT comes to versatility in acting, then one need look no further than Kilkenny thespian Derek Dooley.
Although, for many years he donned the personae of Seanachaí, Eamon Kelly-style, Derek never took his stagecraft much further.
However, his 1999 appearance in Brian Friel’s play Philadelphia here I come with Watergate Productions, was in some ways his starting point on the theatre stage that would see him perform in an assortment of shows and roles.
In a report in 1999, then Kilkenny People journalist Sean Hurley included the following few lines on the Danesfort man.
“New to the Watergate stage and playing the role of ‘a
Jack-the-lad’ type character is Derek Dooley.
“Dooley turned in a funny performance in his cameo role and although his role was in the comedy vein, the actor showed a depth to the part that Friel intended.”
Sean concluded: “I foresee a situation wherby Derek Dooley will be a regular name in future Watergate programmes.”
It is fair to say that the now retired journalist hit the nail on the head.
Dooley went on to appear in a number of productions locally including Bob Cratchit in the musical Scrooge (1999, 2004, 2011), Stanley in Death of a Salesman (2000), Canon Pratt in Moll by J B Keane.
It was in another JB Keane play The Field that the Grennan College-based teacher made a huge impact.
Speaking after a production of The Field where Dooley played the local guard, a visiting group from Listowel heaped praise on his characterization of the role.
“To play that role, you need to immerse yourself in understanding the play, and the complications between Church and State said one.
Munster Express drama critic Liam Murphy echoed those sentiments when he complimented Derek on his understanding of the character.
Derek also showed his versatility as he took on the role of the dame in the annual Kilkenny pantomime.
Derek was under no illusion as to the importance of the part.
“I had long been an admirer of Donal O’Brien who had played the dame for the previous 40 years.
“Both in straight roles and as the dame, Donal was an amateur who was a true professional and I knew I was taking the baton from probably the best actor Kilkenny had ever known,” said Derek.
Derek has played the Dame for 16 years.
Derek is in countdown mode as he prepares to take to the stage in A Clockwork Orange presented by Kilkenny-based Kats Theatre Company in a role that is as far removed from the panto dame as you could imagine.
He plays the role of the Minister of the Interior.
The show opens in the Watergate tonight, Wednesday and runs for four nights until October 6. Tickets 056-776 1674 or www.watergatetheatre.com
Derek lives in Danesfort. He recalls that the first play he saw in the Watergate was John B. Keane’s Sive in 1993.
Having seen that he said he would never be happy until he got on that stage.
Have you performed on stage before? I’ve been on the Watergate stage every year since 1999.
I been in panto in the Watergate since 2000, having performed in 18 pantos, 16 as dame.
With the same company I have appeared as Bob Cratchit in Scrooge, The Stingiest Nab in Town (’99, 2004 and’11).
Other plays with Watergate Productions include Philadelphia Here I come, Arthur Millar’s Death of a Salesman and John B Keane’s Moll and The Field.
I have also been involved with other productions such as Willie Egan’s Dreams, Schemes and Miracles and also with the former Ormonde Players productions of Playboy of the Western World, My three Angels, Lovers Meeting and Shadow of a Gunman.
Your thoughts on Clockwork Orange: It is a wonderful play which makes us reflect on the importance of choice in our lives and how we can exercise moral freedom to effect either good or bad.
It also highlights our freedom to do good or bad. I think the play is far better than the film.
Tell us a bit about your character: The Minister of the Interior portrays political expediency in society. He is sinister and conniving.
At the beginning of the play he appears as one who represents the devil with an emphasis on luring humankind into temptation portraying it as ‘the delicious fruits of disobedience’.
In the remainder of the play he takes the role of the politician who will say or do what is necessary to achieve ‘base political ends.’
Your dream role on stage/film? The Hiker in John B. Keane’s Year of the Hiker.