Q&A: We have a catch up with actress Maria Connolly
The Belfast-based actress (42), who appeared in BBC series Line Of Duty, stars in Abbie Spallen's new play, Lally The Scut, which opens at Belfast's MAC theatre later this month.
Q: What attracted you to Lally The Scut?
A: The chance to work with 11 other actors. Previously, I'd been doing the one-woman show by Brenda Murphy, Two Sore Legs, and while I enjoyed being in charge on stage, I'd missed working with other people. It's lovely to act with people you've known, as you can jump straight into character without any kind of build up. I also relished the opportunity of being in Abbie Spallen's new play. She's a fantastic writer, and it comes across in this dark, humorous and very intelligent piece of work.
Q: How do you approach playing your characters, both in this play and in general?
A: Rahab, Lally's mother, is a very different character for me to play. She hasn't much heart; she's got quite a murky past and no motherly qualities, which makes her very different from the mostly heartfelt roles I've been playing recently. Sometimes, I find myself coming into rehearsals as her. It's as if her fashion sense and mannerisms have crept into my own life. But I do my best not to let that happen, especially with someone as dark as Rahab.
Q: Is it difficult sometimes to inhabit these darker roles so completely?
A: When I acted in my 20s, I remember feeling very lonely and depressed in character, because I was on my own at the time. Now I'm married with two sons, and things are completely different. As a wife and mother, you have to try and snap out of it. Even so, whatever you do in a play or film will stay with you. You'll always be thinking about it. That's acting.
Q: Do you think your sons will become actors too?
A: It looks like it! My eldest, Logan (10), has been brought up in that kind of environment from a very early age. I never hid it from him or my youngest, Ryan (7), that I was going for auditions, nor did I hide failure from them, because I wanted them to see it was part of life. Today I find myself singing a song, acting a play or reading a story for them before they go to bed. There may be better careers financially, but if one son came to me and said he wanted to be an actor, I'd be the first to back him and ask "What route do you want to take?", because there are many.
Q: Did you ever doubt you'd make it in acting, and if so, what do you think you would have done instead?
A: There's lots of avenues I could have gone down. I love cooking, art and history, and as a child I studied music. My father, an opera singer, shared my passion; once upon a time, we'd sit down and watch his favourite part of La Boheme again and again. But I always felt I was better as an actor anyway. And when I was 16 or 17, I realised, maybe because I felt that I was never going to be as good a singer as my father, that I could connect with text in a way that would really give something to an audience. I still have doubts; you're never in full-time work, so there will always be periods where you're unemployed. But it happens to every actor, so you must try not to dwell on it.
Q: You've appeared in the BBC series Line Of Duty. Which medium is your favourite, film and TV or theatre?
A: I've played some really interesting people in TV and film, but my heart is in theatre. It's where I've had the most experience. With so much TV and film around, you get the feeling that you ought to be doing more of it, but for me, in the end, it's all about the part. I only ever want to have great parts; characters that mean something, with great writing that enables me to go and put my layer on the character.
- Lally the Scut runs at the MAC, Belfast, from April 14 until May 2. For details, visit www.themaclive.com