Strabane actor to tread the boards in ‘Playboy of the Western World’

Simon Stewart
Simon Stewart

A young Strabane-born actor is to tread the boards in Dublin in one of Ireland’s classic plays.

Simon Stewart is a member of the Dublin-based Smock Alley Theatre which is performing J.M Synge’s ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ during July and August.

The Strabane native plays the role of Shawn Keogh in the production, the second play in their opening season, following a critically successful run of “She Stoops to Conquer”.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ this week, Simon said: “After a gap of nearly 250 years I am delighted to be counted as one of the original members of this newly reformed company of players”.

It is a play of longing, love and loss in which the character of Shawn “is supposed to marry Pegeen Mike but trouble arises when the charismatic and mysterious Christy Mahon arrives and ruins his plans for a quiet life.

“The problem is Shawn unfortunately has no back bone and is scared of his own shadow so facing up to the challenge of Christy Mahon is the greatest of his life,” Simon explains.

Taking part regularly in local pantomines whet Simon’s appetite to pursue a career in acting. While he now resides mainly in Dublin, Strabane has been his starting ground.

Simon secured his place on the Irish theatrical scene after studying theatre for a year at Queen’s University Belfast.

During this time he also hosted his own popular radio show on Queen’s Radio network. Progressing to The Gaiety School of Acting, The National Theatre School of Ireland, Simon took part in their two-year full time actor training programme from 2007-2009.

He acknowledges his family with their continued support for his interest in acting from an early age.

“Luckily for me I had a family around me that supported this career choice 100%,” she said.

Many productions have been added to Simon’s repertoire throughout the years, including, ‘The Only Jealousy of Emer’ with the Lyric Players group and ‘Crystals’ Houses’ with Classic Stage Ireland along with appearances in RTE’s well-known drama, ‘Fair City’.

‘The Playboy of the Western World’, which was first produced in 1907, will run from July 10 to August 5 in the Smock Alley Theatre Temple Bar, Dublin under the direction of Patrick Sutton.

Simon says: “Theatre is always an adventure and ‘Playboy of the Western World’ is going to be joy to perform.”

Despite the recession, Simon says that “the arts and theatre seem to thrive in troubled financial times” which has been “amazing and inspiring”.