THE Everyman’s new Artistic Director is hoping there will be “laughter, tears and smiles” when it’s safe for audiences to return to the landmark theatre on MacCurtain Street again.
Sophie Motley started in her new position on Monday, via Zoom, due to the current pandemic.
The Shropshire native moved to Dublin when she was 17 to study at the Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College, and ended up staying in Ireland for 15 years.
“I grew up in rural England, in Shropshire. I spent most of my summer holidays in Ireland with my cousins – mainly in Kilkenny and a little bit in Limerick.
“Then I moved to Dublin for college when I was 17.
“I was torn on the CAO. I had the choice between Cork and Dublin and I picked Dublin so now it feels like my life is leading me to Cork!” she laughed.
In 2016 Sophie moved back to Shropshire to run Pentabus, a rural theatre company.
“I really wanted to learn how to run a theatre company and I got an opportunity to do it where I grew up, really near where my parents lived.
“I guess I’ve learned how to run a small theatre company and now I’ve been given this amazing opportunity to come home to Ireland and to run a big company,” she said, speaking to The Echo ahead of her start date at The Everyman.
Whilst Sophie has commenced her new role as The Everyman’s Artistic Director she will be working remotely until restrictions are eased.
“Being able to get to know a city normally involves going and having a few pints with people that you know, walking around and getting to know places. That’s going to be much harder with everything shut.
“I think the first chunk of starting at The Everyman will be all on Zoom and I probably won’t move to Cork for a month or so until it all gets a little bit safer.
“That’s the sad thing, not really being able to explore, but then at the same time, there’s something quite exciting about wandering around when everything’s shut and imagining what you’re going to do when it opens.”
Sophie brings with her a wealth of experience, with previous roles including, founder of WillFredd Theatre, Associate Director of Rough Magic, Staff Director at English National Opera and Resident Assistant Director at the Abbey Theatre.
Starting her new role, Sophie is keen to hit the ground running and is eager to fill “the giant shoes” of her “brilliant” predecessor, Julie Kelleher.
“The key thing will be trying to work out how we make amazing art and theatre and panto digitally at first and then how do we make it that people feel safe to come back in,” she said.
“It will be a really emotional thing when everyone connects in live performance again,” Sophie continued.
The big ambition, Sophie says, is “making big huge fantastic shows that are filling the building”.
“I’m really excited by the communities in and around Cork and how do we connect with them and tell their stories.”
Whilst unable to experience all that Cork has to offer just yet, Sophie says she is looking forward to the “amazing food in Cork”, walking by the Lee and being able to visit the sea.
“At the moment I’m 70 miles from the sea, so I can’t wait to take the dog to the sea!”