skip to main content

National Theatre Blog

Ten questions for… Emmet Kirwan

Emmet Kirwan, writer of Dublin Oldschool

Emmet Kirwan wrote and appears in Dublin Oldschool, which plays in the Dorfman theatre from 24 to 31 January.


  1. Who do you play in Dublin Oldschool?
    I play Jason, a wannabe DJ, and one or two smaller characters, Including Glen, an acerbic record shop worker. Ian Lloyd Anderson has to do the heavy lifting of around 20 characters. I got off easy.
  2. Is there a scene you particularly enjoy performing?
    The opening rap sequence is the most fun. It’s a quick-fire seven-minute sequence done entirely in verse to a hip hop beat and a lot of big, swift physicality that has me leaping around the stage like a madman. A good solid aerobic workout every night that unintentionally leads to shedding a few pounds over the course of a run.
  3. And do you have a favourite line in the show?
    Well, I wrote it, so I feel a bit vain offering up any lines from the show, but my mam’s favourite line is: ‘It’s a Napalm explosion in the south east Asian jungle that is my fucking nose hair, Agent Orange defoliating my brain.’
  4. Do you have any pre-show rituals?
    I’m that annoying actor who warms up their voice loudly and does big elaborate stretches before shows. I purposely do the most annoying drama school vocal exercises with ridiculous lyrics just to annoy my castmate, Ian. He’s more of a ‘smoke, coffee and paper before the show’ type, so I do the stretches either close to him or the vocal ones within earshot. We’re the original odd couple. Well not the original, but you get what I mean.
  5. What would be your dream role?
    Hamlet… Or the curious cat, Rum Tum Tugger, from the musical Cats.
  6. Who is your backstage hero?
    I love working with ‘seasoned’ stage actors and seeing how they operate backstage and before shows. Most of the great Irish actors I’ve worked with have a serene calm quality which usually means a lot of quiet time, reading books and just preparing to do what they’re about to do. The very brilliant Irish actor Bosco Hogan is a master at this and a gentleman to share a dressing room with, and a stage.
  7. What’s the most memorable on-stage moment you’ve seen or been part of that has made a lasting impression on you?
    For the first professional production I did, I understudied for the lead and had to go on one night with an hour to prepare. Terrifying beforehand and during.
  8. What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
    The best advice I can give to aspiring actors or young drama school graduates is: 1) Respect your stage manager/managers and crew. 2) Cultivate your ‘social capital’. Identify the talented people your own age or with shared professional experience who surround you, your classmates, your friends and try to work with them. You’re all at the same level both financially and professionally so the work you do early on creates lifelong relationships that will hopefully pay dividends financially, creatively and professionally later on in your career.
  9. Where’s better for a night out, Dublin or London? 
    Dublin for the pubs and London for the clubs. Dublin pubs for the ability of bar staff to take multiple orders and pour four pints at once. I think London’s gig and dance venues are amazing and the envy of a lot of European cities. A lot of Dublin’s dance and gig venues are being shut down, in a similar fashion to what happened to Fabric in Islington, because of strict licensing laws and a particular set of laws called the Dance Halls Act drafted by legislators and priests (true story) in the 30s. So the live music scene is battling to survive – hopefully there’s light on the horizon for Dublin clubs, like the talk of Fabric opening back up which I hope happens.*
  10. Finally, could you describe Dublin Oldschool in three words? 
    Garrulous sweaty craic.**


Dublin Oldschool is playing in the Dorfman Theatre from 24 to 31 January. Click here for more information and tickets.


* Since Emmet Kirwan answered these questions, Fabric has indeed reopened. He’s delighted.

** Gaelic word for fun