Aisling, the toast of Broadway

Fergus Dennehytalks to the Kerry actress making a name for herself across the pond on Broadway in New York City; Aisling O’Sullivan is currently starring as Regan in ‘King Lear’ until July and it is a role and an experience she is relishing

Aisling O'Sullivan
Aisling O'Sullivan

The level of talent that exists here in Kerry never fails to astound me - be it artists, comedians, musicians, photographers or actors, we truly are blessed here in The Kingdom.

One such success story is Kerry actress, Aisling O'Sullivan who is currently enjoying a starring role as the character 'Regan' in 'King Lear' - a play that Aisling simply describes as the best play in the world - on Broadway, alongside the legendary Glenda Jackson.

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It's been a pretty full five months for Aisling since she arrived in New York back in January of this year to prepare for the role and show - which runs until mid-July - but this week she tells The Kerryman that she is absolutely loving her time on the East Coast.

One of the biggest things that Aisling has loved about her time on the play has been the opportunity to work alongside Glenda, the 83-year-old acting legend, who Aisling describes as an amazing role model for her

"I feel very privileged to be here and it has been the most incredible experience of my professional life so far," she said, speaking last Monday.

"I certainly have learnt things while here. I study Glenda and her work as much as I can and I try to absorb her. I feel very privileged that I can be so close to someone who is one of the world's greatest performers."

"She has Oscars and Emmys and she won a Tony Award last year, which is the biggest theatrical award you can win in America. It has just been an utter privilege as an actress to be able to study her so closely.

I have a massive appreciation for American acting now, the way they come at things," she said.

It's a hectic schedule for the Kerry native with eight shows a week and Monday being her only day off, but she said that in the incredibly hard working Glenda, she has the best role model to look up to.

It's a far cry from her first experiences with acting back in Castledrum NS back in Castlemaine under the watchful of her father and then class teacher Michéal.

"Myself and my brother, we kind of grew up in each others pockets and we would always make these little radio plays and little things to entertain ourselves and we loved it," she said.

"I think though that the big inspiration for me would have been my father. He was my school teacher and school master."

"Every Friday when I was in his class, he would break us all into groups and he would send us to different parts of the school and we would have to formulate a small play about what we had learned that week and then perform this for the class," she continued.

"I felt like this had a profound effect on me because I felt like it was something that I was good at," said Aisling.

As to how she was first offered the role, Aisling said that she had just returned to Ireland after a stint working on another project in the Edinburgh Festival when the call came in.

"I remember my phone was dying at the time and so the director and I had a very rushed video call on WhatsApp and after the chat, a couple of hours later, he sent me a text inviting me over to America," she said.

"There was certainly hesitation about going over. I was given a short period of time to make a decision, enough time to go and read the play and do my work," she said.

"I had to read the play first, I mean, I had known of King Lear but I didn't fully, truly know it so I had to go away and study it. I knew I had to find that connection to the character or else I couldn't go ahead with it. Thankfully though, I did find that connection and here we are," she said.

The play will run until July of this year when she will finally be able to return home to Ireland and Kerry for those home comforts and to see her friends and family - something she said is looking forward to immensely.