Wednesday 16 October 2019

'It's so hard to be a go-getter in your career and also be a mother' - Lauren Larkin tackles women's struggles in one-woman play Split Ends

Lauren Larkin Split Ends
Lauren Larkin Split Ends
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

When Dublin actress Lauren Larkin became a mum for the first time in the summer of 2016 she suddenly found herself struggling with the age old art of juggling career and motherhood and every other aspect of her life.

“When I had my son I had some acting work lined up and he came on tour with me.  We were breastfeeding and we went to Australia and my husband came with us.  It was all very busy and I just kind of found the whole experience great, but I was also going, oh f***, it’s really hard to be a woman and be a go-getter in your career, and also maintain friendships, and your relationship with your partner, and also be a mother, and try to juggle all these balls, spin all of these plates, and I just found it very difficult,” she tells Independent.ie

Her experience led the 26-year-old actress to write her one-woman play, Split Ends, which explores the struggles and the strengths of a generation of Dublin women.

“The Waking the Feminists movement had just happened in Irish theatre [when she started writing] and a lot of attention was on women in theatre and childcare, and accessibility to working in the arts when you don’t have the money for childcare, and how women kind of fall off the face of the industry, so I was determined to not let that happen to me,” she says.

Lauren set her one-woman play, Split Ends, in a Dublin hairdresser's, where the issues women are facing in contemporary Ireland are explored via four women of different generations – all played by Lauren.

“They’re issues that aren’t really talked about and that are kind of a little bit taboo," she says.

The central character is hairdresser Amy who is secretly struggling to conceive.  She explains, “I’ve witnessed some people who have had fertility issues and just the whole thing of having to get on with your life constantly as though things are normal when this huge thing is going on in your life behind the scenes.

Another character is a solicitor and mum of three young boys from Stillorgan whose mother has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  “It’s that whole thing, as an Irish woman, we’re expected to care for our sick parents or our elderly parents and have children and have a career and be a wife, spinning all the plates until eventually one of them has to smash.”

Actors Peter Daly and Lauren Larkin were married in December. Photo: Frank McGrath
Actors Peter Daly and Lauren Larkin were married in December. Photo: Frank McGrath

The other two characters are an older woman from Cabra who has lost her son and a younger girl from Dublin’s north inner city who becomes a mother before she’s ready.

Split Ends is running at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre from September 10-22 as part of Dublin Fringe Festival.  It’s one of four plays supported by Show in a Bag, an initiative of Dublin Fringe Festival, Fishamble: The New Play Company and Irish Theatre Institute, which aims to help theatre makers and actors stage small, generally one-man or one-woman, plays.

Previous Show in a Bag productions have included Emmet Kirwan’s Dublin Oldschool, which was recently adapted for the big screen, as well as The Humours of Bandon, written and performed by Margaret McAuliffe and directed by Stefanie Preissner and My Left Nut by Michael Patrick and Oisin Kearney.

Lauren has been paired with director Aisling Byrne for Split Ends.  They have worked together previously so it has been a happy marriage thus far, as they work to stage the entire play themselves, with the support of the Show in the Bag team.

“They will give you a slot in the Dublin Fringe Festival, production support, and they’ll co-produce the show with you and guide you step-by-step through the process,” reveals Aisling.  The aim of the initiative is to support the creation of a small, tourable show, that will have a life beyond the festival.

Aisling runs Talking Shop Ensemble, a Dublin based theatre collective, as well as Run of the Mill Theatre for actors with intellectual disabilities.  Lauren, meanwhile, is a familiar face on the Irish stage.  She won Best Performer in The Dublin Fringe Festival 2014 for her performance in Advocacy.  She also had a role in Love/Hate.

It has been two years since Lauren gave birth to her son, Robin, and then her other baby, Split Ends, and she says she is a little more accustomed to keeping all those plates spinning these days.  She now has childminder who takes care of Robin in the mornings and he spends his afternoons with Lauren’s mum.

“Peter [Daly] my husband is an actor as well but he’s also an accountant – he uses a few sides of his brain!” laughs Lauren.

“If he’s working nights on a play, I would generally work days so we just kind of make it work.  We’re just doing things on a wing and a prayer all the time.  We're just winging it.  He is doing Richard III with The Abbey and the Town Hall in Galway so he’s going to Galway to rehearse so I’ll be a single mama now for a few weeks during all the Split Ends madness.

"But that's the struggle isn’t it?”

Split Ends is running at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre from September 10-22 as part of Dublin Fringe Festival.  For more information check out www.fringefest.com

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