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St Johnston & Carrigans

Acclaimed young actor Patrick McBrearty prepares to play Puck

Published 2008 Donegal Democrat


Even as a wee lad, Patrick McBrearty of St. Johnston was aware of having a very special calling.

"In primary school, other people wanted to be firemen and doctors," Patrick said. "I wanted to be an actor. I never had a time when I didn't want to be an actor! I don't know where it comes from. I've got an ambitious drive that will keep me going and keep me pushing on to become an actor."

The 21-year-old is well on his way, having performed in 17 productions since his 2004 dbut in the Letterkenny Music and Drama Society's production of "South Pacific" at An Griann Theatre. "I loved it, I love the buzz of the stage," Patrick said. "It was my first time on stage and it was a great feeling. I felt I was at home on the stage."

Other productions that Patrick has appeared in since then have included lead roles in "Rob O'Rea" directed by J.P. Conahan, "Blood Brothers" directed by Patrick Doherty, "Children of the Dead End" directed by Pluincad Fearraigh, and "Flight of the Earls" directed by Declan Birney.

He is currently in rehearsals for his next appearance on stage, this time playing the mischievous fairy named Puck in Shakespeare's comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream," an An Griann Theatre production that will be opening the 20th annual Earagail Arts Festival next month. "He's a fabulous character," Patrick said of Puck. "If I was reading the play and trying to figure out what role would I want, he's the role I would want."

The role of Puck was first suggested to Patrick by Director David Grant, who also directed him in "The O'Neill," a Flight of the Earls-based drama produced by An Griann Theatre which ran during last year's Earagail Arts Festival. "We had a talk last year during 'The O'Neill' about how perfect the role of Puck would be for me," Patrick said. "It was the way I played the role of The Poet in 'The O'Neill' that David thought was reminiscent of Puck. Puck is like Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. He's mischievous, and enjoys stirring things up a bit. He doesn't understand mortals, so he enjoys messing with them."

Over the years there have been many interpretations of Puck, an imp who mixes up some very important love potions in the play, but Patrick is very clear that he doesn't want to see any of them before he plays the role. "I'd rather it be a creation, not an imitation," he said. "I'm trying to avoid watching DVDs of the play...I've seen glimpses of them, but I'm going to do my own version. I want to make my own mark on the role of Puck, and see what I can do with it. I feel it's important for an actor to do that if you're serious about your art. In all the shows I've done, I've tried to find the differences in the roles and tried to make them unique in every way."

In addition to preparing for the role of Puck, Patrick is also gearing up to make acting not just his love but his livelihood. "This year I'm starting to make a big push to get into the professional industry, whether in television, film, or professional theatre," said Patrick, who holds a diploma in Performing Arts from the North West Institute in Derry. "Currently I'm putting some show reels of my work together and looking for an agent. It's a tough industry...there's a move to Dublin or London coming soon, but I mean to build some foundations with contacts beforehand."

Patrick said the support he has received from the local theatre community has been instrumental in making his dream of becoming an actor come true. "You have the likes of Pluincad Fearraigh phoning you up to tell you about roles that are coming up, and the chance to learn from experienced actors like Anthony Delap and Tommy Sweeney, who are so helpful with wee tips that make all the difference," Patrick said. "There's a real lot of talent in this town, and An Grianan Theatre and the local drama societies really help push it forward. It's a great support network to have."