I live in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes. Most times I live in my head, quite unaware of my surroundings – if you know what I mean… If you succeed in tracking Sean Walsh, please let me know, ok? I've been searching for him for years…
I was into plays and all like that at school.
‘Won a medal once for Debating.
And the Brothers knew it.
One day Brother O’Toole walked in –
I was in Fifth Year, taking it easy –
and called me out.
I was sure I was in for it
but it wasn’t that at all.
There was this group of players
coming to the town
and they wanted a lad that’d be interested
for crowd scenes and walk-ons.
I only leapt at it!
The Monday evening I was round to the hall
and shown into the presence:
God he was tall!
Loch of blonde hair, blue eyes and a boom of a voice:
Not that I ever got talking to him.
He was way above me.
Just stood there, ‘me mouth open…
They were opening with Romeo and Juliet.
When the time came I was led round and up on the stage,
a sword put in me hand.
‘Crowded. This fella facing me.
“What do I do?” says I.
“When the curtain goes up,” says he, “start fighting…”
A kick-start to a wondrous season!
I was a soldier in MacBeth,
a mariner in Othello,
another citizen in
the Merchant of Venice,
one of the chorus in Oedipus Rex –
as near to him as I am to you now,
when he came on again at the end,
the eyes out of his head!..
Oh, I didn’t half get a fright…
Towards the end of the run
Mac said they were going on a tour to Australia
and would I like to come?
Ah, like that. Australia!
But the father and the mother said no,
get your Leaving first,
you won’t get anywhere without your Leaving.
So off they went and I bent over the handle bars
into another winter of east winds and short days
and everything through Irish.
Am here ever since…
All my life I’ve followed the safe way:
You have to be more than a bit mad
to take a chance, go out on a limb,
step off the end of the pier…
‘Few years ago – ah, it’s a good few now –
I read in the paper where he died. Mac.
End of Act One, huh?
They’re very lucky to have him:
He’ll do Shakespeare for God Almighty
and all his angels and saints for saecula…
The Monday after they were gone
I went round to the Library above and took out
The Merchant of Venice.
“Many a time and oft on the Rialto…”
I kept at it until I had it be heart.
Though I didn’t know it at the time
it was a way of trying to stretch to the
far ends of the earth, keep him in mind…
I could do a fair take on him
as Shylock. I could.
‘Said it to some of the local group once
but they said
I wouldn’t have been right for it.
I would have been.
I know I would have been…
– Adapted from Dick’s monologue towards the end of THE CIRCUS, a black comedy in two acts by Sean Walsh.