By Nick Gersch
The Gaiety School of Acting offers classes for those wishing to become professional actors and actresses. Those who want to go can take part-time or full-time classes to pursue their dreams of being onstage. For one small group of American students this January, a special three week program is currently underway to give us experience that can help to further our skills in theater. The program is primarily taught by Patrick Sutton, a renowned Irish actor whose training is different than anything us 14 American actors could have possibly experienced before. For the first week of classes, we principally studied some of the works of Samuel Beckett. Beckett’s works are very dramatic, and are considered to be part of the theater of the Absurd repertoire. Memorizing lines for classes might seem difficult normally, but when your director knows every line of Waiting for Godot word for word, it gets much more difficult. Working with realism and absurdity side-by-side was something not easily accomplished in our first week. In addition to working with Patrick Sutton on Beckett’s plays, we have some sessions with other teachers and tutors at the Gaiety as well. Working with Helena Walsh on voice training is an intense and liberating experience. We also have lectures to give us background on the lives of the playwrights’ whose works we are studying. For our second week, we are beginning to study the works of Seán O’Casey, led by tutor Martin Maguire. After a total of three weeks of class, we will be performing in a showcase of works by Irish authors. The school also has scheduled for us multiple visits to theater productions in several different theaters in Ireland. During the first week, we saw Terminus at the Smock Alley Theater, and a very well-done production of Pride and Prejudice at the Gate Theater. Studying a subject which varies with the culture of the place you are studying in makes the change of location a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.