Arts Q&A: Playwright Patricia Gormley on Leonard Cohen, ABBA and Jane Austen

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, west Belfast playwright Patricia Gormley

There will be laughter and tears in equal measure in west Belfast playwright Patricia Gormley's latest play, Is That Too Hot?
There will be laughter and tears in equal measure in west Belfast playwright Patricia Gormley's latest play, Is That Too Hot?

1. When did you think about a career as a playwright and what were your first steps into it? I started as a supervisor in a Fold residential care home some years ago and instead of the usual bingo in the afternoons, I organised creative writing classes for the residents. We began to write sketches together and perform them in local nursing homes and community centres. I was encouraged to start writing more for myself, so I wrote my first one-person show I’ll Tell My Ma seven years ago and have been writing plays ever since.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to? The best were two Leonard Cohen gigs, one in Belfast and one in Dublin. I loved him so much that I even travelled to Italy to watch him perform. Unfortunately I mixed up the dates, went to the venue a day late and ended up in a Bryan Adams concert instead. I was gutted.

3. Fantasy birthday party band? It would have to be ABBA because there has never been music made like it since. ABBA makes you want to dance so it would be perfect for a party to get everyone up on the floor.

4. The record you’d take to a desert island? Working 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton because while I’m swinging on my hammock, drinking out of a pineapple, it will remind me of everyone hard at work.

5. And the book? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love this book because it is set in my favourite period in history. I often think I was born in the wrong era – I should have been wearing crinolines, dancing at balls, riding in carriages and meeting my own Mr Darcy.

6. Top three films? I, Daniel Blake, In the Name of the Father and The Lady in the Van.

7. Worst film you’ve seen? The Da Vinci Code because I was lost after the first half an hour and found it totally confusing. I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

8. Favourite authors? Jane Austen and local authors Gerard Brennan and Danny Morrison.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team? I don’t enjoy sport of any kind and never have. The only time I ever enjoyed sports was the pig racing in Omeath, and that’s only because I backed the winner.

10. Ideal holiday destination? Omeath, because you get the shore all to yourself, you don’t have to beat through the crowds or hold the sunbeds. And you could go all day without seeing another person, which is my idea of a great holiday.

11. Pet hate? Watching everyone rushing about at Christmas, loading up their trolleys with their faces like a Lurgan spade and I just feel like saying, “Smile, its Christmas”.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Lasagna,

Dessert? Ice cream.

Drink? My first coffee of the day.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other? My best friend, Sharon Daly, has sadly passed away and I miss her every day.

14. Is there a God? I hope so, or I’ve been praying to the wall all these years.

:: Patricia Gormley's play Is That Too Hot? continues at The MAC, Belfast until February 10. The play, starring Christina Nelson, Alan McKee and Roisin Gallagher follows Granny Eileen, Jolene and Chelsea Marie in the local hairdressing salon, as they negotiate their way through the ups and downs of everyday life with their mentor, Olive. To book tickets visit Themaclive.com or 028 90235 053.