Belfast Telegraph

Q&A: Belfast actress Kerri Quinn on new play The Weir at the Lyric Theatre

Belfast actress Kerri Quinn is returning to the Lyric Theatre stage this month for a new adaptation of Conor McPherson's The Weir.

After her successful run in the title role of Educating Rita at the venue, Kerri is no stranger to the Lyric or portraying strong female characters with an interesting story to tell.

She spoke to Belfast Telegraph about life as an actress in Northern Ireland and what it's been like working with director Andrew Flynn.

Q. For those that don't know the story, what can you tell us about The Weir?

It's just a really beautiful play. It's set in a bar in Leitrim, the character I play is called Valerie and she has moved down to this little town.

We don't know her reasons for moving and she has been given a tour of the area by one of the local gents and she finds herself in this little bar one night where she very quickly feels at home.

As the night goes on they start telling stories about the history of the place, they become more and more haunting and personal and the big question is why has Valerie moved to this little town?

It's a very cinematic piece of theatre and it's so beautifully written. There's loads of suspense and loads of laughs, and its just really honest and well told.

Q. What kind of character is Valerie?

For those who don't know the play I'm really cautious about saying too much because she is quite myterious.

I tend to play her quite quiet and reserved and try to keep the audience on their toes with regards to what her story is - I don't think anyone expects her to say what she comes out with on this particular night.

Q. You have a long list of strong female characters on your CV - was this planned or have they just coincidentally come your way?

It's just how things have happened. Playing those parts, like Cabaret and Educating Rita, are those roles that I never would have dreamed of playing and I feel very fortunate they came my way.

And, to my shame, I had never read The Weir. I knew of it but hadn't read it and I didn't know what to expect until I had to immerse myself in the role. As soon as I read it I knew it was going to be a part that would be in my heart.

It's a massive opportunity and I just feel so lucky so hopefully I won't mess it up.

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Kerri Quinn in Educating Rita

Q. What has it been like working with director Andrew Flynn?

Andrew is just an absolute dreamboat and I've never worked with anyone like him.

He tells a lot of stories, which is great, he's a really good director for actors because obviously actors don't like being told what to do, let's be honest!

He has a lovely way of trying to paint a picture for you to embrace and take on board, he's an absolute gentleman.

Q. As an actress, what are your thoughts on the theatre scene in Northern Ireland?

I think it's absolutely amazing - I'm a home bid and I have a daughter, so for many reasons I chose to stay in Northern Ireland.

But there is also some amazing work being produced and created here and I've no reasons to move away because of that. I'm working with some really amazing people.

I think the quality of work that's being produced is fantastic - there's a lot of new up and coming actors, writers, directors and it's really great to see a new kind of vibrant approach to theatre.

It's a really exciting time to be working in Belfast.

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The Weir

Q. You're back working at the Lyric after Educating Rita - would you like to continue performing there?

Educating Rita was such a good showcase for me and it's such an iconic piece of theatre. It showed my face to a lot of people who work within the circles so I think I was in the right place at the right time for it and I've been very fortunate.

But in this game that can change so quickly, so you just have to embrace it when the work is there because you just don't know what's around that corner.

Q. So is it difficult then to look to what the future might hold?

It is, but I would love to do more TV. I love theatre, that's where my heart is, but TV is a completely different beast and a completely different discipline so it would be great to be able to try and tackle that.

Hopefully I might be working a bit further afield but as I say I'm a bit of a home bird and my daughter would kick my backside if I left for longer than two days.

  • The Weir runs at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast from September 5-30.

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