Declan makes his Rosebud Theatre debut in this summer’s ‘Tent Meeting’. He was recently seen on the Theatre Calgary stage in ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘King Lear’, ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ and ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Other credits include ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’ and ‘King Lear’ (Bard on the Beach - Vancouver), ‘Circle Mirror Transformation’ (Sage/Shadow Theatre Co-Production), ‘The Secret Garden’ (Theatre New Brunswick), and ‘Emily… a Musical’ and ‘Anne of Green Gables’ (Charlottetown Festival). He’s also appeared at YPT, Persephone Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Lunchbox Theatre & Leave It to Jane Theatre. Declan is a graduate of the University of Alberta BFA Acting program and a founding member of Edmonton’s Free Will Players Shakespeare company.
Where do you call home?
Home is currently Calgary. I guess it always will be the place I feel closest too as my family is there but I’ve made my home all over the place. Born in Northern Ireland, raised in Malawi (central Africa), and came to Canada in the late 1970's. I also lived in Edmonton for 8 years and Toronto for 17 years before returning to Calgary in 2012.
What’s your must-have morning ritual?
Coffee and a shower but not always in that order. I also usually check out the BBC World News as I find their coverage of news events second to none.
What song always puts a smile on your face?
What’s currently inspiring you?
I get my inspiration from all over the place. People, nature, great art and good books, and the love of my family. I’m currently inspired by the beauty of Rosebud and the wonderful people there I get to work with and see everyday. It’s a glorious place and I know it will remain very close to my heart for many years to come.
You’ve been a regular in the professional Calgary theatre scene, as well as a founder of Free Will Shakespeare in Edmonton. Any roles still on your bucket list?
There are many roles I wish I had had the opportunity to play but many of them are beyond me now due to that thing called age. I always have been more of a character actor than a leading man and there is a certain freedom in that. As I start into my 50’s there are still a few roles that I’d love to play: Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor. I would also love the chance to revisit the role of Malvolio in Twelfth Night as I think I was too young when I played him the first time.
Do you have a go-to Shakespeare monologue?
Well, yes, but I try to keep looking for new stuff to keep me inspired and fresh. The one I have used many times is Antipholus of Ephesus “My liege, I am advised what I say! That woman locked me out this day from dinner…” (Comedy of Errors, Act V, Scene 1)
In ‘Tent Meeting’, you’re playing George… a man with deep questions that the church has yet to answer. What in the character do you identify with most?
Honestly? Everything. I’m more like George than not.
Have you had a favorite on-stage moment this summer?
I’m always privileged to be in a position to do what I do. I love every opportunity to be on stage and I never take it for granted, so every performance is a special on-stage moment. That being said, I did love getting a chance to share the stage with Morris Ertman and Bill Hamm recently when one of our cast members (the exquisite Jonathan Bruce) went down with an illness and needed to be replaced for a few shows. Morris and Bill stepped in to cover those shows and it was an amazing experience to see those two men bring their talent and commitment to the stage. The first night they stepped in was a pretty wonderful feeling. I’ll remember that for years to come.
Best acting advice you’ve been given?
Early in my studies I was a student of Keith Johnstone (the Godfather of Improvisational Theatre). His advice was, and I believe it to be the best advice to give to any actor starting out… “If you can do anything else in life then do that instead.” Acting is a tough career and you need to NEED to do it.
Lastly, ‘Tent Meeting’ is full of lovely four part harmonies: music steeped in traditions from a time that seems to have passed. What can modern audiences relate to in these melodies?
Well, the great thing about music is that it transcends time and place. Coming into this show I was really not very familiar with gospel or quartet singing. I like my music a bit more modern and loud but I came to appreciate these songs and the work that goes into weaving such intricate harmonies. The music in this show really serves the story, the period in history and the hopefulness of the characters. It’s beautiful stuff and I challenge anyone who watches this play to not be moved by the music.