Actor Neill Fleming has treaded the boards of the Civic a few times now and his performances are always remarkable. This time he plays the part Rory, the not-so-reformed alcoholic brother of the groom in Close to the Sun from the Corps Ensemble.
Can you tell us a little bit about where you grew up?
I grew up all over the place. I started out in Beaumont (and have ended back up there, happily however), then moved to Malahide. Then we (myself, my mother and father) moved to Boston (Somerville to be exact. We lived in a healthily migrant neighbourhood, the kids I played with were Portugese, Haitiian. Strangely most of the Irish emigrants were more settled in) in February of ’82. Later that year we moved to Maine, a sylvan paradise, or so it seems now. We lived in the middle of the woods. We had ice storms in the winter, black flies in the spring, incredible summers and apple-laden autumns. We moved back to Dublin briefly in 85 before moving on to Donegal in early 86. This wasn’t a paradise of any description, and we recrossed the Atlantic in ’89,this time to Amherst M.A. about 2 hours west of Boston. I completed High School there, and lived there after my family came back to Dublin for a year or two.
Tell us about your background in theatre?
I’ve always been involved in some sort of performing, whether singing, musical, school plays. It’s just something I’ve done since I was about six, and I still love the stage as much now as I did then. Might have even learned a thing or two along the way, but that is for others to judge.
If you hadn’t been in ‘showbusiness’, what would you have done?
I’ve done loads of other things; started off chefing, then studied Animation in Ballyfermot while still doing a bit of cooking. Worked in graphic arts for Vivendi Universal Games for 3 years, then moved to NYC and did more graphics as well as production management for a print company. I found offices to be stifling so after an inspiring cycle up a headland in Donegal, decided to be a bicycle courier and fit as much acting in as I could around that. That was 12 years ago. If I were to give up acting tomorrow, I don’t know what I’d do. Maybe be a dog walker. Or a gardener. Not an office job, either way.
What is your career highlight to date?
Well, just last week I had a few days working on a pontoon in the middle of a quarry with Stephen Berkoff. It wasn’t like me and Steve were best buds or anything like that, but to see a man of his calibre, still mesmerising at 80 was quite special for me.
Can you tell us a bit about your character in Close to the Sun?
Rory is a disaster-not-waiting-to-happen, well balanced, he has a chip on both shoulders.He has the knack of saying exactly the wrong thing, at the wrong time. Rory means well (mostly) and is trying to rid himself of his considerable demons, but is hamstrung by alcoholism, poor choices and his haunted past.
What do you hope audiences will enjoy about the play?
The theatricality of it, the colours, the performances and it’s mythic nature.
Tell us a random fact about yourself?
I have two dogs, Richard Harris and Holly Hunter.
What is next for you?
I will be playing the Genie in Aladdin in The Mill Theatre’s Xmas play.
Thanks a million Neill and get some quality rest before the madness of silly panto season!
Close to the Sun
Tuesday 14th – Saturday 18th Nov., 8pm