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Drama school's still a class act 25 years on -- despite slump

The Dublin drama school that spawned Hollywood hunk Colin Farrell is "bucking the trend" 25 years on.

The Gaiety School of Acting is proving as popular as ever with would-be actors, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Tudors star Jonathan Rhys Meyers, whose training amounted to just two afternoons at the popular establishment.

Director Patrick Sutton, told the Herald that the prestigious centre was still going strong despite the economic climate, on the occasion of the school's silver anniversary.

"We've had a very successful summer, you wouldn't expect as many people to sign up at this time but we're bucking the trend.

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"We're had to turn a lot of adults down over the past months, and we're now offering places for courses starting on September 18," he said.

Mr Sutton explained that both the 'acting for camera' and the basic acting class for adults were constantly oversubscribed as students came back to upskill. "I've been the school's director for the last 15 years and it's been great," he added.

"I think our greatest achievement is the fact that children, young people and adults are coming every single year to express their creativity and share it with us. Our country would be dead without this type of imagination and enthusiasm.

"It's extraordinary to look into the eyes of young performers, they have so much life and energy, they just want to play and that's what we're about."

"We're all about setting fire to the imagination," he added laughingly as a "human candle" was lit on top of a gigantic birthday cake to mark the Temple Bar school's achievements and quarter of a century this week.

Mr Sutton, who took part in the stunt, saw his hand go up in flames as two men holding extinguishers looked on, standing on either side of a cake made of wood and frosting. The stunt was co-ordinated by one of the school's teachers, Tudors and Camelot international fight director, Paul Burke.

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Mr Burke, who acted as the stunt double of English comedian Lee Evans on Freeze Frame, told the Herald that Irish talent "as good as anything" he'd seen abroad.

"Ireland's a great location for production companies, there so much talent here and good tax breaks which attracts the industry -- hopefully this will carry on," he added.

Fair City actress Lisa Harding, who plays Connie Doyle, is a former student of the school who now teaches creative writing at the establishment.

"I have huge fondness for the school and great memories," she told the Herald. "I think now that I am as much a writer as an actress. I have to thank Patrick at The Gaiety for introducing me to the writing bug, he made me realise I could do it!"

hnews@herald.ie


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