Theater Interview: PAT KINEVANE (starring in three plays at The Odyssey Theatre)

by Dale Reynolds on March 10, 2018

in Extras,Theater-Los Angeles,Tours

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Pat Kinevane, 51, is a native of rural Ireland — specifically County Cork — now living and working in Dublin, the capitol of Eire. A qualified spokesperson on Irish culture, he is on a month-long visit to Los Angeles with his three one-person shows which have garnered him a number of respectful awards, including a British Olivier Award. Performed separately, Underneath, Silent, and Forgotten are extraordinary works of art, dark and difficult at times to follow, but always allowing the audience deeply-felt reactions, including pity, love, and wonderment.

Underneath is a darkly comic, rich, and vivid tale of a life lived in secret. A testament to the people who live under the nose of everyday life, exploring both the surface and what lies underneath. Is beauty really only skin deep? Does ugliness hide somewhere deeper?

Silent is the touching story of homeless Mr. McGoldrig, who once had splendid things, but currently has lost it all — including his mind. He now dives into the wonderful wounds of his past through the romantic world of Rudolph Valentino (nominated in 2009 for a GLAAD Media Award).

Forgotten reveals the interconnecting stories of four elderly people living in retirement homes and care facilities around Ireland. Insightful and dark with startling moments of hilarity, it is a unique collage of Kabuki dance and Irish storytelling.

The son of non-artistic stock — a farmer and his housewife — Kinevane was attracted to theatre and to art early on, in part “because Community [Amateur] Drama is big in Ireland, followed by professional theatre,” albeit few in numbers as the country is small.

He began his professional career at twenty, luckily able to perform in a lot of indigenous Irish theatre – Synge, Yeats, Friel, etc. “I am grateful that there is a good swath of writers there,” he told me from Ireland in a phone interview. “But then I have always come from a field of gratitude. I support myself and my family – it’s a job that I love, although I don’t like the BS side of the business; I keep away from that.”

This is his fifth time performing in L.A., but the first doing his Trilogy, which plays March 8 — April 1, 2018. “I’ve taken the three plays to Adelaide, Australia; Serbia; London; Finland; New York City; and Turkey. My Trilogy reflects a dialogue I want to bring to the fore, specifically regarding the elderly and homeless. I come from a working-class background, so I can’t wait to work my ass off to get folk to think more, give themselves an awareness, actually, of compassion, and how to return to it. I use comedy as one way, humor which differs from place-to-place, and I find Los Angeles audiences to have a great appetite for theatre, an intimacy with which they allow themselves to be involved.”

He’s married to Irish actress Fionnalla Murphy, with whom he shares a 18-year-old. “Now that he’s a man, it’s much easier for me to tour away from Dublin.” His wife works mostly at the hundred-year-old National Abbey Theatre.

Pat performs in Irish television and occasionally in film “when a large American company comes to us.” But it’s his “pieces” (as he calls them) which sustain him, intellectually and financially. “I keep three suitcases ready, one for each show.” What sustains him mostly, however, is that he is thought of as an Ambassador for Irish Culture, which gets him all over the world. “I find it humbling, personally, but Ireland is a great country for culture, which makes us world citizens – when we work at art, we don’t belong to any one country, but to the world. It’s my right to travel the world; I was in New Zealand last fall, for instance, and was given a grand Maori welcome.”

So what is this “culture” he is so willing to share with us. “Well, innately we Irish are a curious people. We come from a small, isolated island, very much aware of the foreigner [starting with England’s Henry II]. But we’re a trusting people, not terribly cynical. We’ve a need to reach out to others, a huge childlike sort of heart, not afraid of other cultures — wearing our hearts on our sleeve; learning and integrating others’ customs. Underneath it all, we’re vulnerable but a confident people; proud of our culture, proud of what we’ve survived — such as Imperial brutality. Respecting civil rights, we fit well into America; we understand you must reach out to your neighbor in order to make things better for everybody. Ultimately, our nature is one of calm and beauty. We’re a neutral country, what makes us understand that war is wrong; you must love your neighbor.”

Known in his native theatrical community, Kinevane has worked at the Abbey, the Druid, the Gaiety, Passion Machine, and Fishamble: The New Play Company which has produced a number of his plays including The Nun’s Wood, and The Plains of Enna. The Death of Herod debuted at Mysteries 200 at the SFX. And Evangeline Elsewhere premiered in New York at the first-ever Irish Theatre Festival in 2008. He’s won awards in London, England, Adelaide, Australia, and Edinburgh, Scotland, for these one-offs, which he takes enormous pride in winning. As well he should.

Superbly directed by Jim Culleton, the plays are unique in their scope, and you will find them vastly different from almost any other works. See them while they’re here.

photos by

Pat Kinevane
Fishamble: The New Play Company, in association with Georganne Aldrich Heller
3 plays in rep at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda
for tickets, call 310.477.2055 x 2 or visit Odyssey
Thurs., March 8 & March 29 @ 8 p.m.
Fri., March 9 & March 30 @ 8 p.m.
Sat., March 10 @ 8 p.m.
Sun., March 11 @ 2 p.m.
Thurs., March 15 @ 8 p.m.
Fri., March 16 @ 8 p.m.
Sat., March 17 & March 31 @ 8 p.m.
Sun., March 18 @ 2 p.m.
Thurs., March 22 @ 8 p.m.
Fri., March 23 @ 8 p.m.
Sat., March 24 @ 8 p.m.
Sun., March 25 & April 1 @ 2 p.m.

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