Monday 23 October 2017

Focus on future as stage set for return of 'greatest little show'

Actress Lorna Quinn during a break in rehearsals at the refurbished Focus Theatre in Dublin
Actress Lorna Quinn during a break in rehearsals at the refurbished Focus Theatre in Dublin
Ken Sweeney

Ken Sweeney

IT is known as the "little theatre with the big imagination" where actors Gabriel Byrne, Tom Hickey and Olwen Fouere launched their careers.

Now four years after it closed, the Focus is to re-open following a much needed overhaul.

It was founded in a disused factory in Pembroke Place near Fitzwilliam Square in 1967 by the wife of Dubliner Luke Kelly, drama teacher Deirdre O'Connell.

In the years that followed numerous budding playwrights, actors and plays made their debut in hundreds of Focus productions, many of which broke new ground in Irish theatre.

In 2006 the curtain came down for what some feared was the last time. But after a 2010 fundraising drive by friends of the theatre, the 45-seater venue is to once again become 'the greatest little show in town'.

Additions to the theatre include a new fire corridor, coffee shop and dressing rooms, as well as reconditioned seats.

The performances will start with a new play, 'The Tick', by Elizabeth Moynihan, which tells the story of a woman suffering from Tourette's syndrome.

Yesterday, lead actors Lorna Quinn and Michael Bates were busy on the theatre's small stage rehearsing their lines for previews, which begin on August 24.

"What we do here in the Focus is utterly unique and we'll be hoping, once again, to encourage the Irish acting talents of tomorrow," said artistic director Joe Devlin.

The theatre, meanwhile, is said to be the home of several spirits, including that of founder Deirdre O'Connell, who died in 2001 but whose high-heeled footsteps are said to be heard late at night on the stage.

Irish Independent

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