Arts Q&A: Theatre director Zoe Seaton on James Nesbitt, Jack L and The Beautiful South

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Zoe Seaton, founder and artistic director of Big Telly Theatre Company

Zoe Seaton is the founder and artistic director of Big Telly Theatre Company, based at Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart

1. When did you think about a career in theatre and what were your first steps into it? Apparently I announced I was going to be an actress when I was six, but I became properly involved when the Riverside Theatre (Coleraine) opened in the mid-1970s. I was in a production of Oliver in 1978 with the BBC's Mark Carruthers playing the title role and Jimmy Nesbitt as the Artful Dodger. After that we started our own youth theatre and I was hooked from then on.

2. Best gigs you've been to? U2 at Croke Park in 2017, The Beautiful South at the Ulster Hall (featuring my best mate Briana Corrigan) and The Outcasts in Spuds, Portstewart, the haunt of many lovers of live music in the 80s and 90s.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band? Talking Heads.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island and why? Jack L's If We Only Have Love, because it's beautiful and heartbreaking and makes me happy and sad at the same time.

5. And the book? Seamus Heaney's Opened Ground. I love books, but I don't really like re-reading them. Poetry, however…

6. Top three films? The Truman Show, The Incredible Journey and Little Miss Sunshine.

7. Worst film you've seen? The English Patient. I just found it so dull.

8. Favourite authors? Neil Gaiman, Bernie McGill and Lionel Shriver.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team? Keepie Uppie. My top team is the current cast of Bouncers.

10. Ideal holiday destination? Lisbon, Portugal.

11. Pet hate? When people say, “as we say here in Norn Iron”.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Roast chicken.

Dessert? Roughan's ice cream in Portstewart. My favourite flavour is Amarena wild cherry.

Drink? Red wine.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other? Jill Holmes who runs the Marketplace Theatre in Armagh. We met at Kent university and started Big Telly together.

14. Is there a God? Absolutely not.

:: Zoe Seaton's latest production, Freak Show, which she co-wrote with Nick Harley, tours Ireland this month. It's inspired by the poetry of Moyra Donaldson and the true story of a giantess from Portrush called Mary Murphy, who married a French sea captain, danced for William of Orange and was then exhibited across Europe in a travelling freak show. Starts at Riverside Theatre, Coleraine, on March 8, then in Armagh, Portaferry, Belfast, Newry, Newtownabbey, Monaghan, Dundalk, Strabane, Derry and Omagh. More at

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