“My father and I have an unspoken rule that we don’t talk about acting” Katherine (Kate) O’Toole said in interview with Fred Johnston, regarding her eight-time Academy Award-nominated father Peter O’Toole. Speaking here ahead of her debut with Druid Theatre Company in 1989, Kate O’Toole speaks honestly on her upbringing and early forays in acting with the Yale Reparatory theatre.
O Toole’s debut with Druid came with the production of A Little Like Drowning written by Anthony Minghella, following on from her film role in John Huston’s film The Dead. O‘Toole’s brother Tony was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his writing of the film script and adapting it from James Joyce’s novella The Dead. This film as also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
A Little Like Drowning was also the first collaboration production between Druid and Anthony Minghella. The piece was originally Minhella first feature film as a director, which was made in 1978. Minghella 's work has secured him the highest accolades during his career, culminating in him being awarded the Academy Award for best Director for the 1996 film The English Patient.He was also nominated for an academy award for his scrrenplay for the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley.
|Playbill, photo, flyer and press cuttings from Druid archive|
In the playbill notes from A Little Like Drowning, an article by Frank McGuinness states how ‘The drowning get three chances to rise out of the deep, but if life is only a little like drowning then we are given only one chance of love. Anthony Minghella splits his canvas into three: Italy, England and Ireland. In each location, one man, Alfredo Mare, travels through his life, his joys, his sorrows, always in the dark, for until his dying moments he buries his secret fear, damnation. The Catholic faith of his generation found its home in Hell, with Dire consequences for that same generation, passed onto those that followed them.’ The play was very well received as is documented in the press files of the Druid archives. Numerous reports, reviews and interviews present the social reception of the play that was noted for being Druid’s most controversial and powerful for quite some time.
The production files feature the original playbill, flyers from the production at Druid lane theatre, Galway and also at Limerick’s Belltable theatre. A fantastic series of contact sheets and individual photographs provide a visual insight into the production and presentation of this work which is charged with Religious commentary and ideas on the depths of love, loyalty, faith and pain that is felt in one’s relationships.
|Katherine O'Toole in "A Little Like Drowning"|
While the Druid archive records and charts the beginning of Katherine O’Toole’s association with Druid and the continued association with the West of Ireland by both Katherine and her father Peter O’Toole, it is also poignant that this week the John Huston archive was officially handed over to the NUI Galway archives housed at the James Hardiman Library. The archive hold a substantial volume of records from the production of the award winning film The Dead based on Joyce’s story and directed by John Huston. Katherine O’Toole had a starring role in this film and was at NUI Galway this week to mark the occasion of the archive handover.
Speaking with Fred Johnston in March of 1989, O’Toole states how “I find it hard to imagine that anyone who wants to act harbours the illusion that it’s a glamorous life”. Be this the case or not, Druid association with the most talented and successful of Irish screen and stage talent cements its legacy within its archive of being one of the most successful and engaging of theatre companies.