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Monday 17 December 2018

O'Casey's Juno was a feminist heroine before her time

Laura Wood as Juno
Laura Wood as Juno

As she inhabits the role of 'Juno' with Greystones Players, Laura Wood is fulfilling a lifelong dream of taking to the stage.

She, and the rest of the cast and crew, have been investing a huge amount of hours into preparing for the Séan O'Casey classic 'Juno and the Paycock'.

'At the moment what I'm doing is suffering the pain of discipline so I'm not going to have to suffer the pain of regret, because that's exactly what will happen when this play starts if I'm standing up on stage looking for my line!'

The play will be on at the Whale Theatre in Greystones from December 6 to 9, with tickets €16 and available at whaletheatre.ie.

Set in a working-class tenement of Dublin in 1922, during the Civil War, Juno and the Paycock is not only of one of Seán O'Casey's finest plays but a masterpiece of Irish drama.

Ahead of its time, it is a feminist, anti-war play that reveals all the contradictions of this turbulent period through the experiences of a working-class family.

The unsinkable Juno Boyle, in spite of her work-shy 'Paycock' of a husband 'Captain' Jack, tries to keep her family afloat and steer her son Johnny and daughter Mary through the roughest of waters. Welcome and unwelcome events - unexpected money, romantic involvements, betrayal and loss - throw the family's already precarious lives into turmoil.

Laura is joined on stage by a fantastic cast, including Liam O'Doherty as Captain Boyle, Conor Horan as Johnny Boyle and Georgina Lawless as Mary Boyle, with Aideen Walton directing.

'It's exciting and terrifying in equal measure,' said Laura, on taking the lead role in a play for the first time.

She must rise early to do the Breakfast Show on East Coast FM, give her all to night time rehearsals, and manage a busy home in-between.

'I'm trying to keep this high energy persona of Juno - she's the mum of the house, a really strong character, she's an alpha-female and keeping the house together, in her own words.' Laura had studied the play in school. 'I loved it, so when it came up with Greystones Players I thought I really have to give it a go. In order to go for the lead role I had to speak to my husband about how we would organise everything.'

With three children under the age of eight, it is a family effort to support mum in her undertaking. 'I've a real thing recently about hearing about burnout and people being so busy with their jobs and responsibilities that they let things pass them by. I thought about that old adage of grabbing life by the horns and doing things that you really like and enjoy. I just thought I have to do it. It's easy to drown in the sea of responsibilities, but when I go out to rehearsals of an evening I literally escape from there,' said Laura.

'I enter into this different place and I enjoy every minute of acting. When I was little I didn't get put into any drama groups or acting groups and I'm a bit regretful of that because I love it.

'I do enjoy being busy. And I just think when you find something you love you have to do it.'

Laura would have loved the chance to be on the stage as a child, and she urges anyone who thinks their sons and daughters might like it to send them to Making Waves Youth Theatre in Greystones Theatre on Sunday afternoons.

The community initiative is supported by Whale Theatre, and includes the expertise of Ciaran Coogan and Aideen Walton.

For tickets to Juno and the Paycock, go to whaletheatre.ie.

Wicklow People

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