Interview with playwright Hazel Doolan

Playwright, Director and Actor Hazel Doolan has been a member and co-founder of Eva’s Echo Theatre Company based in Galway City since its inception in 2017. Hazel’s most successful works to date have been Dayshift and Match. Hazel directed and starred in Dayshift which sold out two nights in the Town Hall theatre in December. Match was a production which she wrote, directed and starred in. The project had great success and won the Galway Fringe Best Emerging Artists Award 2017. 

Is there any productions that you are working on at the moment? 

Eva’s Echo is working on a new production called Vlogger which is going to be in the Town Hall Theatre from the 20th to the 23rd of June. It’s a play written by Rita Brissen, and follows the life of a Vlogger named Mia and her partner Sandra. It shows how it affects their relationship as Mia documents her personal and family problems. It’s a reflection on societies obsession with documenting their lives. This play shows how it can get them into trouble and that their lives might not be as great as they are trying to let on. The production is going to be very tech-heavy, we are going to have projections on stage. It will look similar to another one of our productions Jungle Door, which was part of the Galway Pride festival which had projections of the characters’ lives through social media. However, Vlogger will have projections of audience’s reaction to vlogs.  

What influences do you take in when you are directing a play like Dayshift? 

When I read Dayshift, I thought this was an absurd world. So, I took inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and particularly the effect in that. I had the actors watching clips from it and I decided to really play around with the pacing by putting gaps in-between lines. I tried to make the world jarring with quick and fast costume changes that might jar the audience. I made links between the characters where I got the actors playing completely different characters who were at different levels of the company. I would have done a-lot of repetition with the actors to make sure that they were all on point with the movements. Luckily we had a strong cast. 

How did you feel when the play sold out both nights? 

On the first night, I was sitting up on a lighting box and I was watching people coming in. I had no idea how many tickets were sold and I saw the first batch of people coming in and I assumed that that would be it. Then they kept coming in and I was thinking ‘oh my god’ to myself. Then I heard that people were turned away and couldn’t get through the door, and I thought that was mental. It was so gratifying because it was nice to see that people were willing to come in and support young playwrights.  

What do you find most difficult, Acting, Directing or Writing?  

That’s a bit of a tough question, because no two productions are the same, so one production might be difficult to direct, while I might have difficulty with a particular character I’m supposed to portray. I supposed I’ve always been an actor first, I was trained as an actor. The process of getting inside a character’s head and figuring out how they see the world comes more naturally to me.  

Who do you look up to in the industry? 

I always took inspiration from Stella Adler. I did a dissertation on her work when I was studying Theatre in IT Sligo. She was heavily influenced by ‘method acting.’ Funnily enough after doing my dissertation I changed my mind on ‘method acting’ because I used to think it was the way all actors should go. Now I think that just a little bit of it is good but I’d still look to Stella to draw inspiration for my acting.  

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