Séamus take High Road back to Roscommon

Next weekend (Friday, 19th and Saturday, 20th February), actor, writer, director and Leitrim native, Séamus O’Rourke, will return to the Roscommon Arts Centre as one of the stars of Kings of the Killburn High Road.

  Séamus is no stranger to these parts and has proved very popular over the years directing and performing in hit productions such as Victor’s Dung, Stalemate and The Sand Park, to name but a few. Sure, the man has seen things, he’s travelled, he’s been a hit at Fringe in Edinburgh and in productions across Ireland and the UK, but it’s rural Ireland he feels most at home in.

  Séamus says: “We had a very strong amateur group from where I’m from in Leitrim and I was out injured from GAA for a long period and got invited into help with the local amateur group and I knew the minute I got involved I was smitten!”

  Multi-talented though he is, Séamus still enjoys the “immediate buzz” from acting, “The acting and writing are my two favourites; acing is an immediate buzz and writing is so satisfying.”

  So what make the Leitrim man so popular with Roscommon audiences?

  (Laughs) “Roscommon people like the fact that I’m from Leitrim because they assume they’re a superior race!” joked Séamus.

  “Ah no I thinks it’s very much the rural thing. There are not that many people commenting on rural life and a lot of people like that. There’s also a regional thing, Leitrim, Roscommon, Cavan…and there aren’t that many writing about about daily life in that region.”

  The Kings of the Kilburn High Road is an all too familiar tale. A story of emigration and working abroad. The story isn’t your modern-day tayto and teabags posting, surprise trips home, full moon party, skype-fest. It’s the tale of a group of lads from Mayo who emigrate to England in search of work and a better life in the 1970s. Back then, emigration was as necessary as it is at times now, but without the comforts of home available on a laptop.

  The lads become men as they work and drink their way through life across the water. This production promises the full range of emotions, but as Séamus says, “This play is set in a pub which is almost a lost social event nowadays. We really clung together and to our Irishness when we went abroad.”

  This production isn’t solely aimed at the older audience, it carries a message, indeed a cautionary one, to those facing similar decisions today. Young people are still leaving this country – many from the countryside – and although the destinations have changed, the same social habits and conversations remain.

  Séamus says: “The younger generation are all heading away as well-educated human beings but these fellas in the mid-70s went after leaving school early. It’s a great history lesson for younger people to see the kind of specimens we were turning out back then!”

  So, this weekend you don’t have to emigrate in order to see an award-winning artist at work in a quality, true-to-life production. Séamus will be at the Roscommon Arts Centre all weekend, bringing to life characters who’ve since moved from the barstools of London and Birmingham to Toronto and Perth.

  The Kings of the Killburn High Road is booking now at Roscommon Arts Centre on 090 66 25824 or log onto www.roscommonartscentre.ie.