Derek is the founder of No Tears Productions and has written, produced and directed thirteen professional shows within the last five years, including the critically acclaimed Bound, Angel, A Nice Bed to Die In, and most recently Queens of Pimlico all of which played to sell out audiences throughout some of Dublin’s most popular theatres. His play My Second Self opens at The Civic on Monday, 11th May 2015 and runs for 6 nights.
How did you get into performing arts and what’s your first memory of wanting to write?
I first got into the performing arts when I was about 6 or 7. I was sent with my sister to a school in town called Diggs Lane each weekend where we were taught acting and different styles of dance. I don’t think I was overly taken with performing, or somewhere along the line I became a bit inhibited, so I retired, aged 12, but from there on became obsessed with film.
My first memory of wanting to write was when I was, again, about 6 or 7 – sat at the kitchen counter quietly doing my homework when either my mum or sister walked in and asked me what I was doing; I told them I was writing about my dad. They read what I’d written, were a little taken aback by how much detail was going into the piece, and then read it proudly to anyone who came into the kitchen that evening which was very encouraging. I remember thinking it was such a simple means of getting praise that I wanted to write about everyone in my family, which, come to think of it, at this point I probably have. Only now I do it as a cheaper alternative to therapy.
Which famous actors, writers or directors do you admire? Why?
I tend to admire people most when they influence my approach to writing, effect me viscerally or can make me laugh out loud. Bret Easton Ellis, Quentin Tarantino and Bill Hicks were possibly my greatest influences growing up. Ellis has this vicious sense of humour and fantastic stream of consciousness which jumps off the page; Tarantino is the master of dialogue, and well, Bill Hicks was so on point with his views and opinions that they’re still relevant! These days, I’m a huge fan of Irvine Welsh’s work; Graham Linehan’s shows never seem to grow old, and I guess I’d watch pretty much any film with Colin Farrell or Gabriel Byrne, or directed by Christopher Nolan – he’s a phenomenal film-maker.
How did No Tears Productions come about? Can you tell us a little about the other members?
No Tears Productions came about when I was about to leave college and I needed a way to get my work staged beyond Dramsoc (UCD). If you were to wait around for people or other theatre companies (or even Dramsoc!) to stage your work it may never happen. So I set it up, got the ball rolling with Five Minute Flight, and since then we’ve produced sixteen or so productions in the last five or six years.
We’ve been really fortunate to have worked with such a wonderful array of tremendously talented people, whether they be directors, producers, actors, techies, etc. But the members of the team change from production to production, which is really exciting, and the size of the team depends on the scale of the production. For this play we have a small enough team – we have our actors; Thommas Kane Byrne (Stitches) who is an NTP newbie, and Barry Roe who did A Mother’s Love with us last December – both are a treat to work with and hugely talented, and then we’ve our A.D., Hannah Dempsey, who came to us back in early 2013 as a stage hand, but now basically runs the show. We’ve leaned from experience the smaller the team the better!
Where do you get your inspiration from when developing a new play?
Inspiration might come from a conversation I’ve had or from something I’ve read, but it has to resonate with me on some level, or it has to be an idea that hasn’t occurred to me previously, or a topic that I’ve not touched upon before. Some of my original works were inspired, at least, in part, by my life and some of the things going on at the time I wrote them, which is what I guess everyone starts out writing. But nowadays what I write is more conceptually driven, which makes it easier for family members to attend my plays now without fear of seeing a representation of themselves on stage!
Can you tell audiences what they can expect from the show ‘My Second Self’ when it comes to The Civic and how the show came about?
First off, I hope the fact that the play is a gay play won’t put any prospective audience members off from coming to see the play! We’ve always had great support in Civic Theatre, Tallaght because what we stage tends to be relatable and warm, and this play is really no different. Its a lovely little play about the voyage and discovery of two men struggling with their personas, and how they help one another identify what their true persona to be. The gay element of the play is secondary to the story, and because its written from a straight perspective its really a play about compassion and understanding.
Like most the plays I’ve written, My Second Self was the result of a conversation I had with a former friend of mine. We’d been toying with the idea of putting something forward for the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival back in 2012 and we needed a gay play; My Second Self was the result of that conversation. The play was originally staged as part of the “IDGTF” 2013 with a different team behind it, but I felt that with the importance of the upcoming Marriage Equality Referendum coming up that we had to reprise the play and stage an up to date production.
What’s next for No Tears Productions? Do you have any future projects that we should look out for?
No Tears Productions staged 5 brand new productions last year alone, and we have a couple more new plays that we’d love to stage in the near future. Though, at the minute we have no planned upcoming plays after My Second Self as we’re focusing on developing new material as well as looking at how to go about re-staging some of our old plays with a view to broadening our horizons and venturing outside of Ireland. But you should always keep a look out for us!!!
———————————————————————————————————MY SECOND SELF will be staged in Civic Theatre, Tallaght 11th – 16th May, 2015 at 8:15pm nightly. Tickets €12 & €10 concession.
Box Office: 01-462 74 77