After switching from finance to acting, Louise Conaghan counts herself lucky to have found the theatre.

Louise Conaghan

Donegal woman Louise Connaghan is about to embark on a national tour in a show that sees her play 40 characters and die 10 times – but who’s counting?

Louise is, and she’s surprisingly upbeat about every grisly moment.

Ten years ago, the Ballybofey native left her job in financial consultancy to pursue her love of acting. Now with a drama degree, National Diploma in Performing Arts and circus training in her back pocket, she has never looked back.

Louise stars alongside Letterkenny’s John D Ruddy this February in his latest stage production, Manny Man does the History of Ireland on stage!

Louise Conaghan as Oppy in Manny Man does the History of Ireland on stage!

The two-person show is a whirlwind journey through Irish history in 90 minutes, from the Ice Age to today. With 19 tour dates coming up in the next two months, John and Louise have an energetic show run ahead.

“It beats the gym!, Louise told Donegal Woman.

“It’s all physical theatre, that’s my discipline,” she explained.

Louise, who lives in Derry, has been focusing on street performance and theatre of late. She spent much of Christmas playing the jolly role of Mrs Mary Claus at local events, but she is now looking forward to interacting with a large audience in the educational and entertaining Manny Man.

“Stage acting is pulling a whole audience with you and taking them on a journey. You include them in the story,” Louise says.

As Oppy the optimistic, Louise’s character acts out events from Ireland’s history with light-hearted humour.

“Oppy tries to see the best of everything. Her reaction is a lot of what the audience’s reaction is like,” she explains.

“History can be fun, but there’s such a weight to a lot of what you’re doing. We as Irish people have always been good at laughing about ourselves. We find the joviality in it.”

Manny Man does the History of Ireland on stage!

John D and Louise have starred alongside each in various other productions, including Guy Le Jeune’s I Would Walk These Fields Again.

Their great working relationship translates to the stage too, Louise says: “We always wind each other up, and that’s exaggerated throughout the show. John so accurate about dates and history and I’m always playing tricks. But he takes it well!”

Ten years of acting, studying, delivering workshops and writing has affirmed Louise’s love of theatre. She says: “I wasn’t living my real life before. I do go back to reality sometimes for work. I just love the theatre and making people feel stuff. I love that creative energy and productivity.

“With theatre, you really look and see the beauty in things. You see people differently. Before, I looked at people as customers, now I look at them as characters. I appreciate their movements or a certain quality. When you have that you have a fuller vision, you are more fulfilled.”

Manny Man does the History of Ireland on stage! is written by John D Ruddy, directed by Rachel Devir and stage managed by Jude Barriscale. Brought to you by An Grianán Theatre Productions.

Catch the Donegal shows on these dates:

Tuesday, February 5 – An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, Co Donegal
Wednesday, February 6 – An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, Co Donegal
Friday, February 8 – An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, Co Donegal
Saturday, March 2 – Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal
Saturday, March 9 – Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey, Co Donegal