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Michelle Fairley

 

 

 

 

 


 

Born Coleraine 17th January 1964

Equable and perceptive actor, whose career to date has been largely  low key but who has always seemed to be in pole position for a major breakthrough. She showed early promise with a praiseworthy central performance as Sandra, in Christina Reid’s ‘Joyriders’ at the Tricycle Theatre Kilburn in 1986 and was an appealing Bolette, in the Glasgow Citizens Theatre production of Ibsen’s ‘The Lady From the Sea’ 1988.

Her film debut was not as impressive, barely making the credit list as a cleaner in Stephen Poliakoff’s thriller, ‘Hidden City’ 1988 and the following year made her first television appearance as Maeve, in an episode of the action drama series ‘Saracen’ A busy period followed during the nineties, with a variety of television guest roles in series such as ‘Casualty’ 1991, ‘Lovejoy’ 1992 and Lynda La Plante’s mini series, ‘Comics’ 1994. A rare Ulster stage appearance saw her as Paulina Salas, in the Irish premiere of Ariel Dorfman’s political thriller ‘Death and the Maiden’, presented at the Old Museum Arts Centre in 1994 and in a decent television role, played Amanda Burton’s friend Jean McBride, in Graham Reid’s Belfast set drama ‘The Precious Blood’ 1996.

In 1998 she was still struggling to find film roles of substance, illustrated by her lowly part in the Kate Winslett feature ‘Hideous Kinky’ but again theatre came to the rescue, with her outstanding performance as Valerie, in Conor McPherson’s master work ‘The Weir’, at the Walter Kerr Theatre NewYork in 1999.

Following this, expectations were naturally high but disappointingly she was soon back in the old routine of television soaps and small budget films, with barely a crumb of comfort between them. She was offered a more consequential role in the Nicole Kidman chiller, ‘The Others’ 2001, which unfortunately precipitated a short period of relative inactivity, until her acclaimed London theatre appearances two years later. The first of these was Owen McCafferty’s ‘Scenes From the Big Picture’, a National Theatre production at the Cottesloe and at the Royal Court Downstairs, was marvellous as main protagonist Brenda, in Gary Mitchell’s uncompromising ‘Loyal Women’, both 2003. Without question her best work has been in theatre and she added to her successes in 2003, with central roles in Harold Pinter’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ at the Lyric Belfast in 2004 and Ibsen’s ‘The Wild Duck’ at the Donmar Warehouse London, 2005.

She has since toiled away on screen, chalking up her usual quota of low key television parts, the best of which was arguably the role of teacher Sonia Venning, in director Adrian Shergold’s school based drama, ‘Ahead of the Class’ 2005. Her stage credentials were further enhanced, with an Olivier Award nominated performance as Emilia, alongside Ewan McGregor as Iago, in director Michael Grandage’s sumptuous production of ‘Othello’, which opened at the Donmar Warehouse in December 2007. In 2009 she produced a sympathetically judged characterization of  Ann Best in Terry Cafolla’s admirable bio-pic, ‘ Best: His Mother’s Son’.

Guest roles in television series such as ‘ Lark Rise to Candleford ‘, ‘ Taggart ‘ and ‘ Misfits ‘ were only of standard value and two film appearances in 2010 would arguably have no positive influence on her career. Colin McIvor’s North Antrim set, shoestring comedy ‘ Cupcake ‘ offered her a central role as Annie McNabb and of lesser significance was her peripheral casting as Rosie in Enda Walsh’s thriller, ‘Chatroom’, directed by Hideo Nakata. On stage at the Tricycle, London in 2010 she was irrepressible as the omniscient spinster house-keeper Paulie Hennessy in Frank McGuinness’ piquant drama, ‘ Greta Garbo Came to Donegal ‘.

Her most notable screen appearance in terms of global distribution, but fleeting for all that, was as Monica Granger, mother of Hermione, in ‘ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows : Part I’, released in 2010. In 2011, following another stock television role in ‘ Midsomer Murders’, she was cast as Sean Bean’s unselfish wife and devoted mother, Lady Catelyn Stark, HBO’s fantasy adventure series ‘Game of Thrones’, featuring a sprinkling of Ulster actors and filmed in part at the Paint Hall Studio in Belfast. A glut of screen work from 2013,  arguably  influenced by her ‘Game of Thrones’ appearance, gave her more opportunities to impress and included a number of notable parts on the big screen. She played Sally Mitchell, Judi Dench ‘s daughter in director Stephen Frears’  Oscar nominated ‘Pholomena’ in 2013 and took  co-starring roles in the crime drama ‘Montana’ 2014 and in director Ron Howard’s period, action/adventure drama ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ 2015, starring Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleason.

On television she made multiple appearances as Margaret Langston, the formidable matriarch in the ABC series ‘Resurrection’, based on Jason Mott’s supernatural novel, ‘The Returned’, which ran through 2014/15. Fortunately she found the time in her now hectic schedule to return to theatre, brilliantly cast in the role of the ambiguous Genevieve, in a sublime revival of Abi Spalling’s unyielding and intriguing drama, ‘Splendour’, presented at the Donmar Warehouse, London  in July 2015. In 2016 she was ideally cast as Dolly Butler, Dublin  society mover and shaker in the throes of the 1916 Rising, a five part mini- series commissioned by RTE, written by Colin Teevan. She was very much in demand during 2017, working primarily on television, most notably as the sickly Freya Lennox in writer Simon Donald’s psychological thriller series, ‘Fortitude’, starring Richard Dormer. On stage she played multiple roles in Jim Cartwright’s innovating drama ‘Road’, which had premiered at the Royal Court in 1986, returning to the same theatre in July 2017.

Michelle Fairley’s early career saw more highpoints in theatre than any other medium, a situation that has changed in recent years, with her screen profile attracting increasing attention. Hopefully she can juggle both mediums successfully, as any long absences from the stage would be unfortunate.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

– Don Juan(1988) Royal Exchange, Manchester

– Pentecost(1989) Lyric Theatre, London

– The Doctor Of Honour(1989) Donmar Warehouse, London
– Oleanna (1993) Royal Court, London
– Macbeth (2007) West Yorkshire Playhouse

– Remembrance Day(2011) Royal Court, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, London

TV
– Force Of Duty (1992)
– Life After Life (1995)
– Vicious Circle (1995)
– Trial And Retribution (2007)

– Suits(2013)

– The Lizzie Borden Chronicles(2015)

– Crossing Lines(2015)

 

Rosemary Faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim 1946

Skilful but unheralded stage and television actor who had a largely sporadic small screen career, which began in the late sixties and covered three decades, but could best be described as functional and low yielding.

However she was infinitely more productive in theatre, making her debut at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in 1966 in the musical comedy ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’. In 1967 she landed her first screen role, playing Deirdre Garvey in the Ken Hoare/ Mike Sharland comedy, ‘Beggar My Neighbour’, with June Whitfield in her first starring role and worked regularly in series two and three until it ended in March 1968.

In 1970 she made the first of her three guest appearances in the ensemble extraordinaire that was ‘Dad’s Army’, playing Pike’s girlfriend Ivy Samways in an episode entitled ‘Mum’s Army’. A year later in her West End stage debut, she took the role of Lucy Rabbit in the Christmas pantomime ‘Toad of Toad Hall’ presented at the Duke Of York’s, 1970/71.

Later in 1971 she joined the cast of the Fenn Street School regulars as the daydreaming Daisy, for the fourth and final series of the somewhat pedestrian but strangely successful comedy ‘Please Sir’, starring John Alderton as the uber sanguine teacher Bernard ‘Privet’ Hedges.

She was back in London’s West End in early 1972, this time at the Victoria Palace in David Edgar’s musical ‘The Rupert Show’ and was on the Christmas pantomime circuit again, this time alongside a youthful Tim Curry in another musical, ‘Once Upon Time’, staged at the Duke Of York’s Theatre during December 1972 and January 1973.

Her musical theatre CV was boosted further with the role of Agnes in the all conquering ‘Gypsy’, which opened at the Piccadilly Theatre, London in May 1973 closing in March 1974 and featured a tour de force title role performance by Angela Lansbury who left the production in December to headline the Broadway revival at the Winter Garden Theatre later in 1974.

A minor guest appearance in the one season comedy ‘No Honestly’ in 1974, which reunited her with John Alderton would be her last television work for four years, although in the interim she undertook tours with a number of companies in a wide variety of productions which included well travelled standards and contemporary favourites.

In 1978 she returned to the screen in the 1930s London set mini-series ‘People Like Us’, an adaptation of R.F. Delderfield’s ‘Avenue’ stories, appearing in eight episodes as first Maria Carver and then the married grocer’s wife Maria Piretta. Two television credits in 1980 proved to be her last. A brief turn in an episode of the abstract, slapstick comedy series ‘The Goodies’ and a supporting role as Mitzi Teller, wife of Edward Teller, colloquially known as ‘father of the hydrogen bomb’, in the Barry Davis directed mini-series ‘Oppenheimer’.

She continued to follow the work on stage during the eighties and early nineties, mainly as a touring player, although she did land another West End role in the barnstorming ‘Seven Brides For Seven Brothers’, presented at the Old Vic in 1993.` From that point her profile has been surprisingly low-key, a talent never adequately realised, Rosemary Faith did at least test the waters during that period when the opportunities, although few, were afforded her best shots.
Other TV credits:

-Dad’s Army(1971)
-Dad’s Army(1974)

 

Annie Farr

Born Enniskillen 3rd March 1969

Sanguine, jobbing actor, with medium work experience, an infrequent Lyric Theatre Player but with a better history with Birmingam Repertory Company.

She made one of her first professional stage appearances with the Northern Ireland based Centre Stage, playing Nelly, in the company’s touring production, ‘I Can’t Get Started’, circa 1993. In 1994 she appeared as Elvira, in the Tinderbox production of Ken Bourke’s ‘Galloping Buck Jones’, presented at the Lyric Theatre Belfast and the same year made her big screen debut as Dorothy, in writer/director Joe Comerford’s little seen but well structured independent film, ‘High Boot Benny’, which saw a weighty performance from female lead Frances Tomelty.

She continued to work on stage in Belfast and Birmingham during the nineties, appearing most notably in Peter Whelan’s political drama, ‘Divine Right’ at Birmingham Rep in 1996 and a decent production of ‘Juno and the Paycock’ at the Lyric Belfast the following year. She had a brief elevation in theatrical status during a spell with the National Theate from 2000, appearing sparingly in productions such as ‘Peer Gynt’ at the Olivier in 2000 and ‘The Playboy of the Western World ‘at the Cottesloe in 2001.

Her television career only came to life from 2000, with minor guest roles in a several series, including the comedies ‘People Like Us’ and ‘Mr Charity’ both 2001, ’15 Storeys High’ 2002, the comedy drama ‘Paradise Heights’ 2003 and the medi-soap ‘Holby City’ 2004. A co-starring role in Vanessa Brooks’ comedy play ‘Queens English’ at the Watford Palace Theatre in 2005, momentarilly at least rescued her from small screen mediocrity but would prove to have little or no influence in her immediate future.

Her position changed little in the years that followed, with further intermittent television work, again in a low key capacity, guesting in single episodes of the BAFTA nominated, ‘The Worst Week of My Life’ 2005 and ‘Never Better’ 2008. Perhaps more rewarding was her appointment in 2006 as Head Of Performing Arts at LEAL  School Of Dance in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.

Annie Farr, although capable, was surprisingly overlooked for roles in all of the Irish produced film productions during the last ten years, which, for whatever reason has unfortunately lightened her CV considerably.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre
– After Easter (1994) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– The Alchemist (1996) Birmingham Repertory Theatre
– Translations (2000) Palace Theatre, Watford

TV
– Doctors (2003)
– Making Waves (2004)
– Hearts and Minds (2005)

Chuck Faulkner

 

Born Belfast  21st October 1922
Died Virginia Beach, Virginia 4th December 2000

Long-time stalwart of television drama down under, passing into legend in September 1956 as the first newsreader on Australian TV. He was also presenter of ‘Name That Tune’ 1956 and first appeared in a television series in an episode of ‘Whiplash’ 1961, an outback western series starring American actor Peter Graves.

After a brief dalliance as a pop promoter during 1965/66, he was involved in a bizarre incident in 1966, when he was arrested and subsequently cleared of a wages robbery at the TV station Channel 10. He later resumed his small screen career, making guest appearances in the cult police series, ‘Homicide’, 1967 and subsequently became a regular with the shows producers, the Melbourne based Crawford Productions, landing a leading role in their new cop drama series ‘Division Four’, where for six years from 1969 he played the firm but fatherly, Det.Sgt.Keith Vickers. In 1976 he made his big screen debut as Sergeant Montford in witer/director Philippe Mora’s ‘Mad Dog Morgan’, 1976 and appeared in just one other feature film, Fred Schepisi’s tortuous drama ‘A Cry in the Dark’ 1988, starring Meryl Streep, which was based on the notorious incident of the Chamberlain baby disappearance at Ayers Rock in August 1980.

Chuck Faulkner built his career on a well cultivated television persona and with two exceptions, never rose beyond the small screen but he did play an active role in the early years of Australian television with the 1960’s undoubtedly his most productive years. In his late sixties he moved to the US, where he lived in retirement until his death in 2000.

Other Film and TV credits:

TV
– Bellbird (1976)
– Me and Mr Thorne (1976)

 

Kathleen Feenan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born Belfast 4th February 1930

Died Belfast 17th November 2007

Effortless and resourceful stage actor, a Group Theatre Player, constant from the late forties and was a principle cast member in the production that ultimately brought it’s curtain down. One of her earliest appearances there, was as the steadfast and joyful Molly Trainor in Joseph Tomelty’s local classic, ‘All Souls’ Night’ 1949.

Throughout the fifties she worked with almost all of the Group’s seemingly endless supply of talent. In 1953 she took central roles in two Jack Loudan comedies, playing Bridget Flynn in ‘A Lock of the General’s Hair’ and Maureen Simpson in the all female cast of ‘In Donegall Square’. In May of 1954 she appeared as the village schoolteacher Mrs Bradley, in what proved to be the Group’s most successful play, Joseph Tomelty’s effervescent comedy, ‘Is the Priest at Home?’, which ran for a staggering eighteen weeks.

When the run ended, the company, eager to take advantage of the unprecedented interest, decamped to the Grand Opera House, Cork, for a further week of full houses. Later that same year at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, in a Group production of another Tomelty comedy, ‘April in Assagh’, in a cast which included Elizabeth Begley, J.G. Devlin, James Ellis and Tomelty himself.

She was singularly industrious between 1955 and 1959, with decent credits in many key Group productions, such as Sam Hanna Bell’s ‘drama ‘That Woman at Rathard’ 1955, an adaptation of his novel ‘December Bride’ and John Crilley’s three act comedy ‘A Saint of Little Consequence’ in 1956, directed by J.R. Mageean. In 1957 Denys Hawthorne directed her in Writer Joan Sadler’s melodrama ‘The Mustard Seed’, which was followed in 1958 by a little bit of audacious casting, when on the cusp of thirty she took the role of the young German teenager Anne Frank, in ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, which also featured Margaret D’Arcy as her mother Edith.

During 1959, the final year of the Group Players, she was still a regular fixture in the cast lists. She played Josie Mulligan in Patricia O’Connor’s ‘The Sparrow’s Fall’, followed by John Murphy’s Co. Mayo set drama ‘The Country Boy’, directed by James Ellis. One of her last roles as a Group Player was as Ruby Maguire, in an adaptation of J.B. Priestley’s comedy ‘When We Are Married’, staged at the Little Theatre, Bangor as part of the company’s summer season.  She resigned with several others a few months later, casualties of the ‘Over the Bridge’ debacle of post Easter 1959.

Sam Thompson’s heavily publicised work was finally unveiled on the 26th January 1960 at the Empire Theatre, Belfast, with the core of the principled Group Players. Feenan herself took the role of Marian Mitchell, daughter of doomed shop steward Davy Mitchell, played with naked honesty by Joseph Tomelty. In the early sixties she was one of the very few ex Group members to return to the former hallowed ground, appearing in a sprinkling of James Young/John McDonnell comedies and across town in the odd Sam Cree farce at the Arts Theatre.

A dalliance with television began in 1962 with median roles in two episodes of BBCs ‘Sunday Night Play’ series, playing Cassie in Janet McNeill’s Belfast set ‘A Child in the House’ and Isobel in Stewart Love’s tense shipyard drama ‘The Big Donkey’. Her screen career ended in April 1963, with guest credits in the British medi-soap prototype, ‘Emergency Ward Ten’, thus closing a brief chapter in a medium she probably considered too invasive. Kathleen Feenan’s profile was not as elevated as her Group contemporaries, the majority of which carved out a tolerable living in the emerging world of television and as able supporting actors in a raft of British films during the 1950’s and 60’s. However her own contribution was not inconsiderable, a proficient repertory actor of a thousand faces, in a company of appreciable consequence.

 

Other Theatre Credits:

-The Sham Prince(1951) Lyric Theatre, London

-The Deep Blue Sea(1953) Group Theatre

-Mrs Martin’s Man(1954) Group Theatre,Belfast

-Diana(1955) Group Theatre, Belfast

-The Farmer Wants a Wife(1955) Group Theatre, Belfast

-The Far off Hills(1956) Group Theatre , Belfast

-Who Saw Her Die(1956)  Group Theatre, Belfast

-A Shilling for the Evil Day(1960) Empire Theatre, Belfast

-Strictly for the Birds(1963) Arts Theatre, Belfast

-Silver Wedding(1964) Group Theatre, Belfast

-Holiday Spirit(1965) Group Theatre, Belfast

-Sticks and Stones(1965) Group Theatre, Belfast

-Lucky Break(1966) Group Theatre, Belfast

-The Wrong Fut(1966) Group Theatre, Belfast

-The Cat and the Fiddle(1971) Group Theatre, Belfast

 

John (Jack) Fegan

 

Born Belfast 1908
Died Australia April 1981

Impassive and lifelong socialist, Australian based character actor, who after a teenage dalliance with Irish republicanism, left Belfast aged twenty, a literal stowaway, finding himself dumped first in Durban, South Africa and then Perth, Western Australia. He eventually found work in the physically exhausting environment of Sydney’s docklands at Darling Harbour East, during the thirties and forties, championing the rights of the largely unprotected workforce, through his involvement with the radical Workers Defence Corps.

His first thespian dalliance was with the Workers Theatre Movement, a socialist inspired collective founded in Sydney in 1932.
After serving with the Australian forces in the Pacific during WW2, he returned to the wharves and shortly afterwards made his film debut, appearing as a police sergeant in writer/director Harry Watts’ acclaimed outback cowboy drama ‘The Overlanders’, a 1946 Ealing production , starring rustic son of Oz, Chips Rafferty.

This introduction to the screen could never be described as a real opportunity and indeed it took a further three years before he was seen again, with two more bit parts, in ‘Sons of Matthew’ and Harry Watts’ somewhat superficial goldrush adventure, ‘Eureka Stockade’, both 1949.
The forties and fifties were perhaps the leanest periods of Australian film production, which enjoyed much greater output pre WW1 and later in the twenties but with the advent of sound the industry found itself increasingly dependent on overseas investment. This in conjunction with a yet to emerge television service, meant screen work was particularly difficult to procure, so it was no surprise that Fegan continued in his day job at Sydney docks, during these less than illuminating years.

In 1952 he was offered a minor role in director Lewis Milestone’s adventure drama ‘Kangaroo’, starring a pre ‘Quiet Man’ Maureen O’Hara, who heroically failed to lift the production from mediocrity and was more noteworthy for it’s status as Australia’s first Technicolor feature film.
The following year he was given a co-starring role in New Zealand director Cecil Holmes’ Bush adventure ‘Captain Thunderbolt’, in a cast headed by English stage colossus Sybil Thorndike. Unfortunately after this potentially career changing appearance he found himself once again forced into a lengthy lay off, which this time would last a baulking five years.

A small part in Anthony Kimmins’ homespun family adventure yarn ‘Smiley Gets a Gun’ in 1958, was not exactly the reward he had anticipated for such protracted forbearance and with another dormant period on the horizon, his three film haul in the fifties was hardly confidence boasting. However he looked to the new decade with new optimism and a resolve to secure regular work on screen, including the new medium of television. He began positively, albeit with a routine subsidiary role in director Fred Zinneman’s Oscar winning, elegiac Bush western ‘The Sundowners’ 1960, featuring a strong cast including Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr.

A year later in his television debut, he played Peter Garth in the opening episode of the mid nineteenth century set ‘Whiplash’, starring aspirational Hollywood leading man Peter Graves, as stagecoach pioneer Christopher Cobb. At this point he was finding life as an actor, in his case at least, bewilderingly fractured and financially unsustainable, a bleak future indeed for a man in his fifties with a painfully thin back catalogue.
In 1964 he gratefully accepted a short term contract with Network 7, to play Inspector Jack Connolly in a new police drama series entitled ‘Homicide’, which was to be produced by Melbourne based Crawford Productions. The show was an instant success and elevated him from relative obscurity to a household name, during his five year stint, which ended when he voluntarily terminated his contract in 1969.

Following an extended break he returned to television, guesting in several crime drama series in the early seventies, including ‘The Link Men’ 1970, a 1971 episode of ‘Division Four’, the highly regarded rival to ‘Homicide’, for which he won a prestigious Logie Award and ‘The Spoiler’ 1972. Due to his now higher profile, he found work a little easier to come by, even though he had comfortably passed pensionable age and in 1975 he took a cameo as Doc McKenzie, in Peter Weir’s haunting, international success, ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’.

During 1976/76 he was seen in three separate episodes of the rural set ‘Matlock Police’ and in 1978, aged seventy one, he brought his acting days to an elementary end, with a brief sighting in an episode of the two season ‘Chopper Squad’.

John Fegan’s halting career, which spanned thirty years, was at best indifferent, save his rewarding sojourn on ‘Homicide’ 1964/69. He was an actor, who despite many years of inactivity, stayed the course and savoured his moment , when it finally came, to the full.

Other Film and TV credits:

Film
– Moving On (1974)

TV
– Dead Men Running (1971)
– Certain Women (1973)

 

Michele Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born Belfast 1960

Solid and well travelled utility actor and writer, who for a period during her studies at Trinity College, was a member of the Brendan Smith Academy of Acting in Dublin, circa 1979.

An early stage appearance saw her as Yahoo in Tom McIntyre’s imagistic ‘The Bearded Lady’, an Abbey Theatre production on the Peacock stage in 1984. From then until the end of the eighties she worked regularly at the Abbey, appearing in further Tom Mc Intyre plays, most notably completing his influential, luminous and dialogue sharp trilogy which began with ‘The Bearded Lady’, with roles as the Night Nurse in ‘Rise Up Lovely Sweeney’1985 and as Dark Daughter/Angry Boy in ‘Dance for your Daddy’ in 1987.

She was still active at the Abbey towards the end of the decade, taking the title role in yet another Tom McIntyre work, ‘Snow White’ 1988 and a co-starring credit in Thomas Murphy’s social drama ‘Too Late for Logic’, a Dublin Theatre Festival presentation in 1989. Her introduction to the screen came in 1991 with a bit part as Girl In Bar in an episode of the series ‘Screenplay’, entitled ‘Journey to Knock’ and made her film debut a year later as villager Maggie Rudden in director Gillies MacKinnon’s late 1950s set romantic comedy ‘The Playboys’. Shot on location in Redhills, Co Cavan, the cast also featured Albert Finney, Aidan Quinn and Robin Wright.

In 1993 she was cast as the vulnerable Rose in the Abbey Theatre’s predictably successful Australian tour production of Brian Friel’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, performing at the Sydney Opera House and the Playhouse, Adelaide. A relatively quiet period followed and for the remainder of the nineties she worked only occasionally and included the part of Lily in Stewart Parker’s political drama ‘Pentecost’, a Rough Magic production staged at the Donmar Warehouse, London in 1998.

In the Dublin Theatre Festival of 1998 she appeared on the Abbey’s Peacock stage as Ailish, opposite a splendid Michael Colgan as Eddie in Michael Harding’s cross community drama ‘Amazing Grace’. In her first professional appearance in her native city, she was cast as classics lecturer Angela in Brian Friel’s oblique ‘Wonderful Tennessee’, presented at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in 2000.

After a further spell of inactivity she returned in 2004 with a string of television appearances, including roles as Patsy Gallagher in director Pete Travis’ award winning docudrama ‘Omagh’ and as Sylvia in her second feature film, director Damien O’Donnell’s comedy/drama ‘Inside I’m Dancing’, starring James McEvoy and Brenda Fricker.

In only her second stage appearance since 2000 she was an impressive Ma Abu in Ubu Roi, Alfred Jarry’s late 19th century absurdist play based on ‘Macbeth’, a Galway Arts Festival production at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway in 2006. That same year she made a guest appearance in the television medi-soap ‘Holby City’ and had a starring role alongside husband Owen Roe as married couple Lorraine and Frank Lawlor in writer/directors Ronan Glennane and Neil Greenwood’s shoestring budget film drama ‘Pride and Joy’.

A diverse mix of screen credits over the next three years yielded little in higher profile work but gave her the opportunity to expand her character playing. The most significant of these was arguably her turn as the young George Best’s soft- hearted Mancunian landlady Mary Fullaway in writer Terry Cafolla’s television film ‘ Best: His Mother’s Son’ in 2009.

Her strangely infrequent theatre work brought her back to the Abbey in 2010 with an ancilliary casting as Witness, in writer Mary Raftery’s searing piece of documentary theatre, ‘The Darkest Corner: No Escape’, based on the findings of the Irish Government commissioned Ryan Report of child abuse within Catholic institutions, dealing primarily with the period from the mid-thirties until 1970. She followed this with dual roles as Mother/Rich Mother, Emma Donoghue’s biographical, ‘The Talk of the Town’ at the Project Arts, Dublin in 2012.

Michele Forbes established herself in the mid to late eighties as a stage actor of estimable dexterity and her CV would be of greater content but for self imposed  breaks which to an extent has affected the momentum  of her career.

Other Theatre Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-The Great Hunger(1986) Abbey Theatre, Dublin

Film

-Dorothy Mills(2008)

TV

-Family(1994)

-The Clinic(2004 and 2009)

-Whistleblower(2008)

-Titanic: Blood and Steel(2012)

-Love/Hate(2013)

-Jack Taylor: Cross(2016)

 

Robert Forsyth

 

Born Belfast 1846
Died New York 9th February 1922
Pioneering, severe of countenance stage player, who was touring the American hinterland ten years after the civil war. He made his US stage debut at Woods Opera House, Cincinnati in the mid 1870s with Oliver Doud Byron’s travelling company, in Byron’s own ‘Across the Continent’.

The production became the actor/playwright’s life work, performing literally as the title suggests, for almost thirty years. Forsyth returned to England in 1882 and worked with an assortment of theatrical groups during the latter years of the 19th century. He became a principle member of Percy Hutchinson’s company, performing in regional theatres, most notably in George Barr McCutcheon’s popular comedy ‘Brewster’s Millions’ at the Grand Theatre, Leeds in 1909.

In his mid-sixties and with the enticement of a growing film industry centred in New York and New Jersey, he crossed the Atlantic again, a more experienced actor but with age now a deciding element. He made an early Broadway appearance at Daly’s Theatre in 1912 in Rutherford Mayne’s three act comedy ‘The Drone’, which also featured Larne born, Whitford Kane. The following year, again on Broadway, he played a supporting role in writer Thomas W.Broadhurst’s expansive drama ‘Evangeline’, adapted from the epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Now firmly entrenched in New York he took a more prominent position in the cast of Harold Brighouse’s romantic comedy ‘Hobson’s Choice’ 1915, presented first at the Princess Theatre, later transferring to the Comedy Theatre. In 1916 he finally made his screen debut, appearing as Alexander Chambers in Leroy Scott’s drama ‘Sacrifice’, made at the diminutive Premo Productions lot in New York.

In 1917 he was offered a short contract with Jules Brulator’s Peerless Productions based at Fort Lee, New Jersey. He had median roles in three films that year, all dramas, ‘Moral Courage’, directed by Romaine Fielding, ‘The Stolen Paradise’, director Harley Knoles and as Dr. Stewart in William A. Brady’s ‘The Beloved Adventuress’, starring English born Kitty Gordon. 1917 proved particularly fruitful as he also managed a decent role in Constance Lindsay Skinner’s comedy, ‘Good Morning Rosamund’, at the 48th Street Theatre on Broadway.

His next screen assignment was a small but pivotal role as the puritanical father Samuel Griscom in writer Henry A. De Suchet’s Revolutionary War drama, ‘Betsy Ross’ 1917,with the prolific Alice Brady as the heroine of the title. His penultimate film, the biographical ‘The Beautiful Mrs Reynolds’ 1918, directed by Arthur Ashley, was his second following ‘Betsy Ross’, for the newly formed World Film Company at Fort Lee, an amalgamation of Peerless Productions, Lewis J. Selznick’s Equitable Pictures and Shubert Pictures.

Back at the 48th Street Theatre in 1920 he appeared as General Mellen in a large cast assembled for Owen Davis’ melodrama ‘Opportunity’ which ran for a surprising 138 perfomances. That same year he had a strong supporting role as Brewster in Dodson L. Mitchell’s comedy drama ‘Cornered’, first at the Astor Theatre, Broadway and then on tour. He made his last screen appearance aged seventy five in Romaine Fielding’s ‘The Rich Slave’ 1921, made at the second tier Jaxon Film Corporation studios in New York, thus ending a film career played out entirely on America’s East Coast. Robert Forsyth had a career so protracted it embraced both American and English theatre in the latter half of the reign of Queen Victoria and continued into the 20th century and the Edwardian era. For good measure he made his own faint mark on and bore witness to, the very early years of film.

 

Gordon Fulton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born Bangor, Co. Down 1949

Died Derry 26th September 2016

Imperturbable and sagacious general purpose stage and screen actor, who worked for a number of years as a schoolteacher before his relatively late introduction to the profession. An eager member of Bishop Edward Daly’s Derry theatre group, the 71 Players in the late seventies; he appeared in a number of plays, presented on an occasional basis in St. Columb’s Hall in the city.

In 1983 at age thirty four, he enrolled at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, graduating in 1986. He remained in Scotland, joining the Brunton Theatre Company in Musselburgh, appearing in productions such as Len Deighton’s satirical WWI musical, ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ in 1986, as Herr Schultz, the Jewish fruit shop proprietor, in an adaptation of Joe Masteroff’s ‘Cabaret’ and as the languid, Baloo the Bear in the Charles Nowosielski directed ‘Jungle Book’, both 1987. That same year he made his screen debut as Dr. Brodie, in an episode of the gritty Glasgow set police drama, ‘Taggart’ and in 1988 took a supporting role in a Brunton Theatre production of James Bridie’s ancient Scottish fable, ‘Holy Isle’. In two further low-key appearances in 1989, he played a reporter in writer John Brown’s legal drama series ‘The Justice Game’, again with a Glasgow backdrop and a landed a second ‘Taggart’ credit, playing D.C.I. Paton, in the episode ‘Flesh and Blood’.

He was still active with the Brunton Theatre Company into the nineties, with strong roles in a stripped down interpretation of ‘Hamlet’ and in R.S. Silver’s controversial, historical drama ‘The Bruce’, an Edinburgh Festival presentation staged at St. Brides Centre, both directed by Charles Nowosielski in 1991.

He returned to Ireland in the mid-nineties and for a short period, took part in workshops with Kerry playwright John B. Keane in Tralee. His introduction to Belfast theatre came in Roma Tomelty and Colin Carnegie’s Centre Stage 1997 revival of Sam Thompson’s neglected second play, ‘The Evangelist’, inspired by the resurgence of religious fundamentalism in mid 19th century Ulster.

His film debut in Colin Bateman’s 1998 mystery thriller ‘Crossmaheart’, was little more than functional, typecast as Uncle Andy in a sterling cast list including Conleth Hill, Gerard Rooney and Doreen Keogh. That year also marked his first appearance as Loyalist Kneebreakers barman, Sammy, in the BBC N.I. comedy series ‘Give My Head Peace’, a role he would re-visit irregularly over the next nine years.

He worked with the Lyric Theatre, Tinderbox and toured with Centre stage at the end of the nineties, registering notable credits. He was Mid Ulster farmer Mark Abraham in Joseph Crilly’s dark social drama, ‘Second Hand Thunder’, a Tinderbox presentation at the Playhouse in Derry and a textbook Uncle Ben in the Lyric’s production of Arthur Miller’s wondrous, ‘Death of a Salesman’, both 1998. In 1999 he produced an engaging turn as Rudyard Kipling in Centre Stage’s ‘A Couple for Kipling’, Harry Barton’s unfolding love story, which opened at the offbeat Golden Thread Theatre in Belfast, later transferring to the Riverside Theatre, Coleraine.

In the early 2000’s, again with Centre Stage, he gave noteworthy performances in Beckett’s haunting, one man/one act memory play, ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’ in 2000 and as Herod in Oscar Wilde’s ‘Salome’ in 2001, both directed by Colin Carnegie. On television he was making what he could of the work available, with fleeting guest roles in two BBC N.I. series, both of which ran for only one season. The comedy ‘I Fought the Law’ in 2003 and in writer Pearse Elliott’s excellent West Belfast based comedy/drama ‘Pulling Moves’, which surprisingly ended in 2004.

A Northern Ireland Arts Council Residency Award in 2004, took him to the Stanislavsky Theatre in Washington D.C, where he appeared in Brian Friel’s adaptation of Ivan Turgenov’s ‘Fathers and Sons’, deservedly earning the few plaudits on offer as retired army surgeon, Vasily Ivanovich Bazarov. A central role as Da in Tinderbox’s production of Daragh Carville’s darkly surreal, ‘Family Plot’, during the 2005 Festival at Queen’s, was eclipsed by his deferential and troubled Herbie, in Damian Gorman’s study of human fallibility, ‘1974: The End of the Year Show’, directed by Carol Moore and staged at the Lyric, Belfast in 2006. The play also featured Maggie Cronin and Martin McCann, a year short of his film breakthrough in Richard Attenborough’s ‘Closing the Ring’.

He was part of another Festival offering in 2008; Marie Jones and Maurice Bessman’s limp and contrived quasi-musical drama ‘The Liverpool Boat’, which although inspirationally staged in the Dockers Club, Belfast and despite the efforts of a decent cast, failed to impart the poignant central message. Between 2006 and 2012, screen work was at a minimum, with theatre interest only marginally better. He was underused as the loud and dodgy dealing Ben, father of single minded Gemma, in Daragh Carville’s ‘This Other City’, a tale of sex, greed and fear in a glossy modern Belfast, which opened at the Grand Opera House’s Baby Grand in April 2009.

Back in Washington D.C. in 2011, he played the pivotal role of motor mechanic Jack, in Conor McPherson’s elegiac, West of Ireland set ‘The Weir’, a Scena production, at the H Street Playhouse, directed by theatre founder Robert McNamara. A tour later in 2011, with Centre Stage, in an effective revival of Joseph Tomelty’s enduring family tragedy, ‘All Souls’ Night’, saw him as patriarch John Quinn, opposite Roma Tomelty’s jaundiced Katrine Quinn, produced as a centenary celebration of the birth of her father.

A distinctly low profile television appearance in an undisputedly high profile series, offered him at least his largest ever audience, playing Lord Portan, in an episode of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’, screened in April 2012. None of his three screen roles during 2014/16 were of any substance, although his credits did stretch to a two episode stint in ITV’s chilling 2016 mini-series, ‘The Secret’, Stuart Urban’s largely factual account of the events surrounding Coleraine double killers Colin Howell and Hazel Buchanan, starring James Nesbitt and Genevieve O’Reilly. In a somewhat efficient career, Gordon Fulton proved a reliable, uncomplicated character player, whose motivation was unquestionably rooted in theatre, a medium he embraced with gusto.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-All Together Now(1986) Byre Theatre, St.Andrews

-The Frog(1987) Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh

-Dick Whittington(1994) Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh

-The Last of the Red Hot Lovers(1997) Centre Stage, Belfast

-Bell, Book and Candle(1998) Centre Stage, Belfast

-Shadowlands(1998) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Fallen Angels(1999) Centre Stage, Belfast

-Henry and Harriet(2007) Kabosh Theatre, Belfast

-The Sweety Bottle(2013) Brassneck Theatre, Belfast

 

Film

-Sunset Heights(1999)

-Wilderness(2006)

-Fishbowl(2014)

TV

-Class of 96(1993)

-Custer’s Last Stand-up(2001)

-Seanchai(2006)

-37 Days(2014)

 

Steve Furst

 

Born Belfast 3rd September 1967

Energetic generalist, a comedian, writer, actor and musician, whose professional career began in 1985 as a guitarist in the glam rock band All That Glitters. During the four year tenure of the group he enrolled at the University of Winchester, taking a degree in drama, theatre and television, graduating in 1989.

He took to the stage again in 1990 as a stand-up comedian and worked for a period writing for Chris Evans on his BSB music channel show ‘Power Up’ in 1991. In 1994 he co-wrote and starred in a glam rock musical, which undertook a British tour after a six week stint at the Arts Theatre, London.

In 1997 he unveiled his alter ego, singer/comedian Lenny Beige on Lee Mack’s forgettable stand-up show ‘Gas’ and followed this with appearances in ‘Alexei Sayles Merry-Go-Round’ 1998, ‘Comedy Lab’ and ‘Armstong and Miller’, both 1999. His creation was then given a two series run in 2000 on the short lived and peripheral BBC Choice channel, entitled ‘Lenny Beige’s Variety Pack’ and made his legitimate acting debut a year later, with guest roles in the off-beat black comedy ‘Fun at the Funeral Parlour!’.

An experimentation in stage drama saw him as the jury foreman in director Guy Masterson’s 2003 Edinburgh Fringe, triumph against type production ’12 Angry Men’, presented at the Assembly Rooms, in a cast comprised almost entirely of comedians, including Bill Bailey, Owen O’Neill and Stephen Frost.

That same year he made the first of his numerous appearances in the David Walliams/Matt Lucas anomalous comedy ‘Little Britain’, working regularly until the series ended in 2006. His first dramatic part on screen, a lowly credit as a television reporter in Christopher Menaul’s 2004, factual television drama ‘Wall of Silence’, starring James Nesbitt and Phil Davis, preceded a faultless cameo as Rabbi Solomons in writer/director Ric Cantor’s romantic comedy ‘Suzie Gold’.

A plethora of guest appearances in a variety of television series during the mid 2000’s included Mark Tavener’s satirical comedy ‘Absolute Power’ and two medical dramas, Jeb Mercurio’s ‘Bodies’ and the Chris Chibnall/Nigel McCrery co-written ‘Born and Bred’, all 2005. That year at the Edinburgh Fringe and again at the Assembly Rooms, he introduced his one-man show ‘Behind the Net Curtains’, a medley of dark character sketches which confirmed his undoubted mastery of the genre.

A minor role in his second film, directors Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson’s ‘St Trinians’, a reworking of the Launder and Gilliat anarchic girls school romp, initiated a trio of features in 2009. He co-starred as Mo in Simon Fellow’s fantasy adventure ‘Malice in Wonderland’, writer/director Claudia Solti’s ‘That’s for Me!’ and reprised his role as the bank manager in ‘St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold’.

2009 also marked the first of his full run appearances as hapless wizard Mannitol in the children’s series ‘The Legend of Dick and Dom’, which endured until 2011

. In a return to theatre in 2010 he was absurdly comfortable as Stuart, opposite Michael Brandon in a revival of Oliver Cotton’s marvellous exercise in comic timing, the virtual two-hander ‘Wet Under Cover’, first at the King’s Head, London, later transferring to the Arts in the West End.

In 2011 he barely improved his screen CV with a guest role in the teenage, crisis ridden drama series ‘Skins’ and a bit part in director in Phil Traill’s insipid Swiss set romantic comedy ‘Chalet Girl’. However a year later in arguably his highest profile venture to date, he replaced Paul Kaye as the sleazy used car salesman Mr Wormwood in the multi award winning, RSC produced ‘Matilda the Musical’, then into it’s second year at the Cambridge Theatre, London.

Two further functional big screen credits followed in 2012 with similar cast ratings on television in 2014, which included Robert Popper’s Channel 4 sitcom ‘Friday Night Dinner’. Another decent stage role was his pontifical Robert Tooley, boss of Ford Motors, in director Rupert Goold’s musical adaptation of William Ivory’s 2010 film ‘Made in Dagenham’, which opened at the Adelphi Theatre, London in November 2014. Steve Furst is a congenital entertainer who has largely performed under the national radar, a comedian by and large, with an appreciable proficiency in general character playing.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-Jack and the Beanstalk(2007) Barbican, London

-Chicken Soup With Barley(2011) Royal Court, Downstairs

Film

-The Owner(2012)

-The Knot(2012)

TV

-Catterick(2004)

-My Dad’s the Prime Minister(2004)

-Absolute Power(2005)

-Annually Retentive(2006/07)

-The Bill(2008)

-Massive(2008)

-Missing Scene(2010)

-Walk Like a Panther(2011)

-Law&Order:UK(2014)

-Holby City(2014/15)

-Father Brown(2017)