Woman’s desire at the heart of ‘Baoite’

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Siobhán O’Kelly, who plays Cáit in Baoite.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

“A good woman making difficult decisions,” is how Carraroe actress Siobhán O’Kelly describes Cáit, the character she plays in Baoite (Bait). Darach Mac Con Iomaire’s latest play is about a fishing family in Connemara who are leading a campaign against fracking.

However, fractures soon start appearing in the family as people seem to be making decisions for their own benefit rather than the broader good.

Baoite is a co-production between An Taibhdhearc and the Abbey Theatres in association with Galway International Arts Festival and will be staged at An Taibhdhearc from July 12-22.

The family in the play comprises a father, a son, a daughter and the daughter’s partner.

The daughter, Cáit, is in her late 30s and desperate to have a child. So, she has made a dramatic decision for the good of her immediate family, Siobhán explains. This has a ripple effect and suddenly old secrets and betrayals start to emerge.

Siobhán sees a parallel between the public campaign against fracking and this woman’s personal campaign to have a child, in that both involve people battling against the odds in the belief of a positive outcome.

Cáit is a woman who has done everything that was asked of her all her life, the actress explains. She cared for her sick mother and then minded her father, putting her own needs on hold. Despite this, her great desire for a child doesn’t receive much support or sympathy from the people around her.

But Siobhán has compassion for Cáit’s plight. Based in London for more than a decade, the actress postponed having children in order to establish her career. Unlike Cáit, her experience once she decided to have a child wasn’t problematic, but now she can’t imagine life without her little boy.

“As an artist, you have to be single-minded and I’ve lived out of a suitcase for years,” says. Siobhan, who moved to London aged 23 to study theatre at the Guildhall, after she’d completed an arts degree at NUIG. “I got a London agent and stayed. I’ve been over and back for more than a decade.

“It’s very exciting to come home to An Taibhdhearc for this play, to bring my family with me and have the family support here at home. Darach has children, so he is very supportive too,” she says, referring to Darach Mac Con Iomaire, who has written and is directing Baoite.

Siobhán has previously returned for roles in TV dramas including Jack Taylor (as Kate Noonan) and An Klondike (Kate Mulryan), having cut her acting teeth as a teenager in Ros na Rún (Ciara).

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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