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& # 39; I'd like to be remembered for a more beautiful song by Soap Your Ass! & # 39; – Rosaleen Linehan reflects on career highlights

Rosaleen Linehan is the kind of woman you want to find next to a dinner. Or on a train. Or sitting next to a long-haul flight. You know the type: a stranger whose energy, rich stories and laughter let you overflow with vitality while you part, secretly wishing you were your neighbor or your aunt or your best friend's mother.

Obviously Rosaleen is too well known in Ireland for being foreign to many. His handprints are immortalized in bronze outside the Gaiety Theater and his impressive career covers over 50 years of stage and screen, from Dublin to Broadway, from the West End to Hollywood. If her light eyes, fresh complexion and blunt cut prove her 81 years old, her high energy certainly does. Giddy as a teenager and easily spiteful, it is his sharp spirit and wisdom that reveals a well-lived life.

"One of my directors, who was a true guru of mine at the end of the years, once said this extraordinary thing:" Rosaleen, you are very lucky that you are not handsome because you will not lose it! & # 39; He was very double-edged; it was not even a compliment. The beauty begins to go, and then, if you can afford it, you start making pieces of the face … "

Self-deprecating and candid, Rosaleen's expressive face is reassuringly original. Unlike Hollywood's obsession with youth, we discuss how theater is kinder to mature actors, offering many more opportunities. "It's great. If you can stagger at all," he chuckles, pausing to order a hot whiskey. "A single please".

We're at The Davenport Hotel to discuss his role on Martin McDonagh's The Cripple Of Inishmaan, which opens this weekend. "I was contacted for this a long time ago and it took me a long time to say yes." His last two roles were Mag in The Red Shoes at The Gate and Hurdy-Gurdy Man in Woyzeck In Winter. "Woyzeck was big, weird, and rather wonderful." There were short films in between, "two small films for students" and vacation time. "Red Shoes was terribly difficult but it's terribly easy. And I've already played it before, in Los Angeles, 20 years ago."

Attracted to the theater as a young man, she remembers sitting on her mother's knee at the feeling of pantomime that she can do what she was looking at. "We didn't do any drama at school – absolutely no one – but then I joined UCD, joined Dramsoc and went to act and think, & # 39; I think I could do that. & # 39;"

Rosaleen joined the UCD to study economics and politics, subjects chosen by her father, a long-standing Fine Gael TD for Donegal, but the drama soon became her main focus. It was here, in Dramsoc, that he met his beloved husband, Fergus Linehan, who died in November 2016. Working together, he wrote satirical magazines for Rosaleen and Des Keogh, catapulting the couple into the national annals of the comedy greats. "I and myself went from the & # 39; 75 to # 39; 85. C & # 39; were only five magazines, strangely enough. It took two years to write each one. They were," smiles wistfully, "with the my beautiful Pat Crowley clothes. "

Fergus and Rosaleen worked together at magazines at home. "Trying out the pub material was a highlight," he says, laughing. "Sometimes, on Friday and Saturday, it was pure magic. You should read things into the microphone because you would not have learned it yet and Peter O & Brien was on the piano and, of course, they had all run away. We would have given the objects three nights and if they hadn't worked for three nights in a row they were abandoned. "

While Rosaleen is loved by a generation of sketches like "I wish I was a Protestant" and songs like Soap Your Ass and Slide Backwards Up A Rainbow, she admits that she just became "a little famous" leaving the play and going "straight".

A working mother, life was difficult in the 70's and 80's when her four children were small. "Routine was very important. If you went to pick them up at school in the morning, you should get some rest in the afternoon. The revisions were very physical and you should do a big warm up." Playing 90 years of Mammy in The Cripple Of Inishmaan is much easier, she chuckles. "Mammy is in bed for comedy, she's 90 and an alcoholic. So I don't have to do much research!"

Evidence is something that his opinions have changed since he aged. "I will look like an elderly woman, but sometimes I think the tests are too long. Sometimes I feel that they are a bit too lethargic, but not always, especially if the game is difficult, obviously. The arts of Moscow rehearsed for a year, they arrived at the Abbey around 1986 with a show I had done in 1981, Chekov's The Seagull, their production was completely staggering, and after watching it, I remember telling my director : "We didn't do The Seagull … we did The Magpie!"

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Once cast, he has no interest in seeing how others might have interpreted his character. "When I was young and gritty, Shirley MacLaine, who roughly has the same age as me, maybe a year or two older, appeared in a movie. It wasn't even a singy and dancey movie; it was a Hitchcock called The Trouble With Harry and I went there. At that point I looked like her so much that I never went to see her again for years, in case I made copies. "

Even in the early days, Rosaleen never had to audition. Dublin was small and everyone knew it. "I was a little weird, in the sense that Fergus was always writing for me, so I could just waltz, then have a baby, then come back. The radio was wonderful because when you're pregnant you only have a microphone and you don't have your eyes on you ". She remembers that the friends of the actress are getting pregnant and ask her, almost with tears in her eyes, how she managed to keep her career with four children. "Because the theater doesn't pay well. Well, the magazines obviously did. We wrote those and that was the best part of life – all those years of writing musicals. It was really wonderful, fabulous and then they would come out and you would have possessed them. "

On stage he has all played, from Shakespeare to Beckett and Friel, with Dancing at Lughnasa, Happy Days, Mother Of All The Behans and the magazine highlights his career. Cripple Of Inishmaan is his fourth production of Martin McDonagh. "I did twice in Los Angeles and twice in London in Beauty Queen Of Leenane. Beauty Queen is incredible. I mean, it takes a lot of you. But this is great. I have seen various productions and also in one. He is incredibly comic and tragic. He strikes both with a bang. "

Have you ever seen any of the McDonagh movies? "No! In Bruges? I should have seen it and it's on Netflix." I tell her that I just saw Three posters outside Ebbing, Missouri and I loved it. "And it's Frances McDormand, isn't it? It's fabulous, divine!" "It would be among my top three, I think."

Meryl Streep also makes the cut. "I was in the Arts Council for a while and the word" over-arching "was used all the time," he says with a mischievous grin. "Meryl is above average. What does this mean? But she can do anything, anything and she remains so optimistic. She never seems neurotic or difficult."

He also loves Judi Dench and Jodie Foster. "Among the comediennes, this is Jo Brand and I love it [Druid Theatre Company co-founder] Marie Mullen. It always makes me angry because it does things I can't do. She is so sincere in her acting. Is fantastic. "

One of his great heroes is Elaine May, an American actor who went on to direct and screenplay. "Not many people know her today because she hasn't played for years. She is the equivalent for me, just a big hit in New York. She has had a huge career with Mike Nichols and they have been a comical couple like Des and I. She has just been released in New York in a play by Kenneth Lonergan and is simply fantastic.

"Glenda Jackson is also out with our Aisling. Did you know?" He asks enthusiastically, referring to the double winner of the British Oscar and some politicians, and to the well-known actor Kerry known for his theatrical role and work television as The Clinic, respectively. "Aisling O & # 39; Sullivan is with Glenda Jackson on Broadway, in King Lear. It will be fairytale, I would say!"

His pride is real and palpable, as if he were talking about one of his sons. I am struck by how generous he is in his praise to others, especially his peers. Elaine May is 86, Glenda Jackson 82. "The two who have returned to Broadway now have never even been curious," she smiles.

Loving the diversity of all the roles he has played over the years, Rosaleen has no hesitation in declaring that Kathleen Behan – the Republican maiden and mother of the playwright Brendan, who played in Mother Of All The Behans – was her favorite character. "I loved every inch of her: her spirit, her wickedness, the struggle for her children. She sang all the time, so many songs she had in her head at 95."

Songs and music are the beginning and the end of everything, reflects Rosaleen. "If I had only one ambition, it would be to write a simple little song before I die, just a song that everyone knew. I mean a lot of people know Soap Your Ass, but it's not the way I'd like to be remembered!" "It's the way I remembered though. When I go around the country it's the only thing they know about me! I'd like something more Fine Gael, if you know what I mean …"

He also talks affectionately about favorite costumes, yet he admits that he hate them until he does them well. "Sometimes, when I talk to college students, I say that acting is a difficult road – that is, very hard – and I always say, & # 39; Look at the costumes department! & # 39; because they can destroy you. If something wearing) you don't feel right you have to sit still. "

After interpreting the work of so many Irish dramatists, how do you feel about the future of Irish theater? "We need to quickly replace some giants: Brian Friel, Tom Murphy, John B Keane and, not to the side completely, Hugh Leonard. These would be giants and this is what we are based on. They must be replaced and replaced."

He mentions Martin McDonagh and Conor McPherson, both in London. "There is a wider band of critics there and maybe they seem to have a happier home to open their works there. But they are there, of course, not here. Sometimes I think finance intrudes a little & # 39. To begin with, you can't really afford big casts. But the big ones will always come. People always scribble in Ireland, in the back of buses, everywhere. "

& # 39; The Cripple of Inishmaan & # 39; is at the Gaiety Theater until March 9th. To book see gaietytheatre.ie

Weekend magazine

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