Giving Pop Tart Lipstick The Kiss Of Life

Coming to The Whale on September 24th, the brains behind Pop Tart Lipstick – the bould Rex & Migle – chart the rise and rise of their Tarantinoesque crime caper.

1. The Idea
The glorious and dreaded day was now tapping on the door of procrastination eagerly.
I had been writing since graduating from Drama school. Never fully following through on a play… Acting on stage took me away from full application…
Many drafts of high ambition ( Mostly sci-fi) plays sit in drawers. One regarding a couple on the brink of divorce who decide to try and remedy their relationship by buying a robot Artificial Intelligence called Socrates; who is an android head in a bowl…Copyright Futurama…
Another play about a drunk magician and an Irish Ranger Sniper.
Another about gene editing technology in babies in Dublin…Which wasn’t bad!
In radical contrast to these lofty and futuristic dream-ideas, the first play that felt right to bring to the stage was Pop Tart Lipstick.
I had opened Glass Mask Theatre on Dawson Street with a bunch of theatre Pirates by my side, and I knew a stage was there to be boarded.
The writing of the play was one of the moments when things seem to flow unhindered.
I sat down with only two constraints in mind; Two men, (both with a secret), in a room together for 60 minutes.
And I demanded of myself, that at the end of the 60 minutes, they will have to make the biggest decision of their lives.
What followed was two days of intense writing and the play arrived fully formed.
Influences are myriad, and I dont think the writer should soil the experience of the audience with their own freudian shite – but the two men were people I knew. Many people I know, blasted through the lens of the two characters,John and Harris; two men from East Wall who were forgotten by society and needed to escape.

2. Pre-Rehearsal
The plan had been to Direct the play myself.
Have the excellent Dublin theatre actor Christopher O’Sullivan play the character of John ( A newly re invented individual, complete with breathing courses, Jordon Peterson Books and a job driving busses ).
And the brilliant Jason Barry ( Of Love/Hate ) was to play the recently released-from-Mount-Joy Man; Harris.
Things change…
Jason got the big gig in LA
3 weeks to go – My wife says to me that I have to play Harris or the play is a no go.
Theatre Swiss Army Knife and one of the best writers in the country, Mr. Stephen Jones stepped up to direct.
I had to start learning the lines …

3. Week 1 Rehearsal 1
Due to financial restraints and a love of pain, we do only two weeks rehearsal at Glass Mask. This requires us all to arrive knowing the lines inside out.
5am mornings the week before got me there.
Kyle arrived like a Samurai, off book, as usual.
Stephen was a revelation.
I had an idea of who Harris was, and through relentless pursuit, uncompromising attention to detail and a keen sense of what makes drama, Stephen picked at every single line, every habit I had, every trick, and eventually began moulding me into Harris.
He pushed Kyle in a similar manner.
At the end of week one you feel you have nothing, you arrive confident, and if you are really searching you destroy that confidence and begin to build up again, exception been you are performing the actions of another human soul, and that feels strange, as it should.

4. Week 2 Rehearsal
Actors attempt to get comfortable. Thats our thing. ‘Oh, that moment feels good, lock it in’ etc.
What really should be happening is the attempt to reconcile with the discomfort of your character on stage.
If you simply work out what they want, better yet, what they need, from moment to moment, and genuinely play those actions, disguised in a truthful characterization, then you have the stuff of drama.
Its simple but difficult to do.
Myself and Kyle act in what we want to be the Glass Mask style – that is that the play is different every night.
Not story wise, not line wise, but if you play in the moment each evening- you have no choice but to be different based on that present moment.
Stephen lets nothing go. Often giving us ten notes in one page of action.
I wonder will it all sink in before opening show on Monday.
Pressure is on.
Kyle is feeling it too.
But we commit to eight full runs of the play before we go up.
.Stephen holds praise. He will not disrespect us by claiming we are there yet. He keeps pushing.
Our partners lose their others halfs for three days- which I imagine is heaven for them … Becuase all myself and Kyle and Stpehen care about is the play.

5. First Preview
We warm up for an hour.
Myself and Christopher hug and go side stage.
Pre show I go outside and pace up and down the road as Harris. Hes the shark so keeping moving helps.
Often you have to do what sounds to a non-actor like utter bollox before the show to get you to a place.
There is one moment in the show that we knew if we pulled off with complete silence, we had done the job.
It came and the theatre was still. Poised. Listening.
A good first show

6. Afternote
Many great memories – including the night our stage manager forgot to put out the right poptart flavours and I had to improvise a line regarding mrs. Crabapple from The Simpsons to justify grabbing the apple flavoured tart…
One evening during the run a man from New Jersey, on his last night in Dublin came to see the play.
He happened to be a gay man who struggled with coming out when he was younger.
Our play, without giving anything away, touches on sexual repression in us often closed off Irish men-of-rock.
He messaged us after the play and said he saw himself and his boyfriend up on the stage.
He said he cried because he saw hope in the play.
That’s the greatest moment I got from doing this thing.

Pop Tart Lipstick takes over The Whale on September 24th.


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