My Weekend: Since lockdown I've been working on the #SAVETHEARTS campaign

In our My Weekend feature, theatre and opera director Tom Creed tells us how he spends his weekends and what he's been up to during a strange year in the arts
My Weekend: Since lockdown I've been working on the #SAVETHEARTS campaign
Tom Creed, Theatre and Opera Director

Tom Creed is a theatre and opera director. His recent productions include Beckett’s Watt with Barry McGovern in Dublin, Cork and Melbourne, The Bluffer’s Guide to Suburbia with Ray Scannell at Cork Midsummer Festival, and The Tales of Hoffmann and Griselda with Irish National Opera. He was Festival Director of Cork Midsummer Festival from 2011 to 2013 and is currently on the steering committee of the National Campaign for the Arts.

Tell us a little bit about yourself :

Growing up in Cork I really discovered the theatre as a teenager - first through an inspiring drama teacher at Coláiste an Phiarsaigh in Glanmire and then though Activate Youth Theatre. In the year I did my Leaving Cert I had two life-changing theatre experiences - the original Druid production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane which came on tour to the Everyman, and the original Corcadorca production of Disco Pigs starring Eileen Walsh and Cillian Murphy. I’d never seen theatre like this before - thrilling, surprising, totally contemporary. 

I studied Philosophy and English at UCC, but that was really an excuse to spend most of my college days making plays with Dramat at the Granary, and doing every possible job in the theatre that I could do, from box office to lighting technician. 

Like most teenagers getting into the theatre, I though I wanted to be an actor, but when I started to direct my first productions there was no way back, and I’ve had the great fortune to be able to do that for almost 20 years. 

We were on tour with Beckett’s Watt in the week the lockdown started, and had to cancel the last performance - since then I’ve spend a lot of my time working with the National Campaign for the Arts to ensure artists, arts workers and arts organisations don’t get left behind in the pandemic.  The arts was the one of the first sectors to shut its doors, and will be among the last to get back to full capacity, until a vaccine is found and cultural events can take place to full capacity again. Our #SAVETHEARTS campaign has made a big impact, and we’ve been encouraged by government support over the past few months to help the sector through the crisis, but there is a lot more to do - we’re currently working hard to ensure that artists and arts workers continue to be supported by the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme while our work is shut down through no fault of our own.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night? 

I’ve been lucky that my work has taken me around the world so my Friday nights are full of variety and no two are usually the same. Under normal circumstances, I would be out at the theatre most Friday nights, so it’s been strange to find myself at home in front of the Late Late over the past months. If I’m honest, it’s been good to take a break.

Lie ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

Lie-ins all the way - I’m late to bed and very late to rise if I can help it!

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Given the nature of my work I’m often working at weekends. You would think that that would have changed with the lockdown, but we’ve been flat out with the National Campaign for the Arts which has been working at a tremendous pace to keep up with the changing circumstances. And right now I’m working around the clock to put finishing touches to a couple of online projects, including a new bedroom pop opera about lifeforms in lockdown called ZOONOSIS with Dublin Youth Theatre which can be experienced online now.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

I love big cities, and I’d be off to Berlin, Paris or New York with my boyfriend Peter like a shot. But my favourite city has to be Venice - I go there every autumn to experience the Biennale, and I’ve found myself longing to see it without the tourists during these strange days. It’s a magic place, and the experience of crossing the canal at night on the vaporetto is one of my favourite things in the world. I spent a lot of time researching the history and culture of the city when I was directing Vivaldi’s opera Griselda with Irish National Opera, and I can’t wait to get back there to look into its corners and discover more of its secrets.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries? 

My family have been going to Ventry in west Kerry for over 30 years, and I’m looking forward to getting back there in a few weeks to recharge.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

I finally made it to Cork to see my parents for the first time in five months, and to celebrate my nephew’s first birthday - I’m looking forward to being back in the city again soon now the travel restrictions have lifted.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I’m lucky that my hobbies are my work, but it means it’s hard to get very much time away from work at all.

Entertain or be entertained? If it's the latter do you have a signature dish?

I’m in the business of entertainment, so when off duty I definitely want to be entertained. I’m a very reluctant cook, but I found myself working through Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries during the lockdown - maybe the habit will stick.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork - where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

For coffee and lunch, it has to be the Farmgate or the Crawford Gallery Café - it just depends on whether I’m in the mood for the bustle of the market or the calm refinement of the gallery. I’m glad to see Cork become known for global cooking - Iyers and Miyazaki are on the menu as often as I can, and I’ve had one brilliant meal at Ichigo Ichie and I’m excited to get back to see how the menu has changed with the seasons.

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

Doing all the things I haven’t done for Monday. It’s like homework in front of Glenroe all over again.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

The alarm tends to go off and the cat tends to come to say good morning around 7.30am, but it’s at least 8.30am before I can drag myself out of bed most days. The cat (also from Cork) has come to live with us in the last few months and he’s been a source of great joy and distraction during these strange days.

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