Earlier this month, Bedrock Productions staged the Irish premiere of Lebanese-born playwright Wajdi Mouawad’s explosive and comic exploration of war-torn life, Wedding Day at the Cro-Magnons. You might say it’s a bit of a crazy play.
A family, caught up in the absurdity of war, tries to maintain some semblance of normality. It should after all be the happiest day in young Nelly’s life: she’s finally having her wedding. However, there are a number of obstacles in the way of domestic bliss. One is that the city where she lives is under continual bombardment. Another is that there’s no groom. But that will have to be sorted out later.
If that little synopsis isn’t enough to get you excited, there’s more: three of the cast members are graduates of the Trinity Acting Studies course. Ever dreamt about the exciting lives led by acting graduates? Nyree Yerhainharsian, who plays Nelly, tells all.
I managed to catch up with the young actress during a break from rehearsals and she was eager to talk about how much the Trinity acting course had helped her forward her career. “It was absolutely brilliant,” she said, “beyond anything I could have expected. I learned so much. It’s an amazing foundation for aspiring actors. If you look at how Trinity graduates are getting on and the work that they’re getting, it’s such a shame that the course is gone. Some excellent people and brilliant work have come out of it.”
Nyree could not think of a better way to get an actor’s career started; for her, the course acted as a foundation to help speed up the notoriously difficult process of finding work. An actor with training tends to know the business a little better, having worked with theatre professionals and made valuable contacts from agents coming to see Trinity showcases. “I have been working steadily since I finished,” she happily reported, “which is great. I’ve done three shows since I graduated last year including this next one. I did Phaedra’s Love with the Loose Canon Theatre Company in the Project Arts Centre, Top Girls with Galloglass, which toured the country, and I’m currently working with Bedrock.”
She enthusiastically described her most recent project. “The play is about a family who live in the top floor of a flat block in the middle of war-torn Lebanon. There are bombs going off all over the place and snipers everywhere. They are preparing the feast for their daughter’s wedding but it’s funny because there is no fiancée – they’re just trying to pass the time to get away from the bombing. The daughter – that’s me – is narcoleptic.”
Did she have any difficulty in playing a character with such a strange condition? “It was always going to be difficult, but I’ve been working with the director now for a few months and I kind of understand what he’s looking for. We definitely had to work on specific elements of character building.”
The young actress just adored working with director Jason Byrne on the show, describing his vision of theatre as so exciting, such a different style and way of working. “It’s a whole new way of looking at theatre. A different way of dealing with actors and a different style of acting. The whole acting class worked with him on a show called Black Snow in the Samuel Beckett Theatre. That was the first time I worked with him and I’ve been intrigued by his style ever since. It’s totally untraditional and against the grain, which is great. It’s useful for young actors to experience new ways of working before settling down.” This run of Wedding Day at the Cro-Magnons may have come to a close last week but it’s likely that you won’t have to wait long to see Nyree on stage again.