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All the best: Richard Wakely on his favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 55-year-old is the director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's, which kicks off next month. He lives between Belfast and Dublin and is married to Teerth Chung, with whom he has two sons, Conor (16) and Ciaran (14).

My best moment

The one I often quote was the 1986 production of Frank McGuinness' Observe The Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, at the Hampstead Theatre in London. I got the last seat in the theatre on the last night of the production and I came out blown away.

I promised myself that night that if ever a job came up at Hampstead Theatre I would go for it – it did and I got it. That one night in 1986 has had a profound effect on me and my career.

My best song

It's hard to pick just one but my current favourite is a wonderful hypnotic Saharan blues song by Tamikrest, who are from Mali in Africa. The song is called Tisnant An Chatma and you can really hear how the music spans continents from Mali to Memphis. In fact, the band are part of the music club at the festival this year.

My best buy

I couldn't live without my MacBook Pro. It's something I've come to depend on, it has all of my music on it and I take it everywhere.

My best way to relax

It's very hard to unwind in this job but I love the Saturday papers. I get a huge pile of them and slowly work my way through.

My best job

It is always the one that you're doing now – people like myself are always fired up by the moment. I look back, though, with great fondness and pride to working as managing director of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, as well as my nine years with the Hampstead Theatre in London.

My best piece of advice

This is advice I now pass on to younger artists but it was given to me very early on in my life, too. It's 'Keep going, don't give up'. It's very simple but it also reflects how difficult a career in the arts can be.

My best gift

It's sentimental and obvious but it has to be my two boys. They're a blessing and a gift and before I had children I was ambivalent towards being a parent. They say the emotions for men only kick in once the children are born, and they've definitely changed my life for the better. They've also helped me in my work because I see the world in a different way.

My best achievement

I've often been in partnership or collaboration with others and I would say that sharing with other artists or institutions is a mark of my work. An example would be the 18 West End productions I've worked on – the stand out production is Frank McGuinness' Someone To Watch Over Me. We did it in Hampstead, took it to the West End and then on to Broadway.

My best movie

There are a plethora of movies that I love but the one that's been on my mind recently and which I return to is Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (right). The fantastic score by Bernard Herrmann keeps bringing me back to it.

My best book

I'm going to choose A Tale Of Two Cities, as I'm a huge Charles Dickens fan. I also love The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

  • The Ulster Bank Festival at Queen's takes place between October 16 to November 1. For full programme details, visit

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