“I loved it so much because it feels more real, like something you actually would see performed”: The cast of Alison Carr’s Tuesday for NT Connections at The Lyric Belfast
The Connections Festival is an annual youth theatre event, set up by the National Theatre, that works to highlight the budding talents of young people interested and involved in performing arts. Running for 28 years, Connections commissions plays for the budding performers and partners shows with the many theatres they work with across the UK. One of the schools involved in this year’s festival is Saint Patrick’s College, Ballymena, who will present Tuesday by Allison Carr, under the guidance of director Sarah Irvine and producer Nicola McNamee.
The play follows the story of ordinary students whose lives are disrupted one Tuesday when the sky is ripped open and people from a parallel universe fall through. The students and their doubles must find a way to send everyone back to where they belong. The cast includes Matthew Irvine, who recently made his TV debut in BBC series Hope Street. The Upcoming caught up with him and cast members Connor McAuley, Maja Matuskiewicz, Cora Clerkin, Sam Logan and Cadla Crawford to talk about their characters, reasons for joining the project, and meeting possible parallel versions of themselves.
Can you give us a brief rundown of your character in the play?
Matthew Irvine: I play a character called Billy, a regular teenage boy who has gone through the tragedy of losing his sister in an accident (she was killed by a drunk driver) – so there’s that element of trying to get that emotional performance and get that view from the point of tragedy.
Connor McAuley: In Tuesday, I play the character Jay. He’s the double of Alex and I love playing him personally because I get to put my own emotions in there. I used to struggle about how I was going to do Jay because I really thought the way his character was – the emotions his character had – didn’t fit my preferred way of acting, but my friend gave me really good advice: he said to put my own emotions into him. There’s this one scene with Jay where he actually gets angry at Alex for always taking all the credit and never letting him have any credit at all. I realised I’m actually able to put a little bit of anger into that because that’s something I feel I’m strong in – doing anger in characters – and it’s amazing to be able to do that. I really like the way he gets angry, but still lets it go; he doesn’t hold a grudge or anything.
Maja Matuskiewicz: I play Alex. I feel like we’re kind of similar in a way – it seems like she’s quite an overachiever, and I resonate with that. Obviously, from the tear come down the other people – the doubles – and she meets Jay, who’s oddly similar to her, and she finds it difficult to understand how to have a relationship with him because they’re so similar.
Sam Logan: My role is Cam in the play Tuesday – the typical quiet kid, loner, very anxious about crowds and is bullied quite often. It stops at me though. Playing the complete opposite character really challenges you because you’re so used to acting one way and then, when you’re on stage, you just have to act a completely different person.
Cadhla Crawford: I play Mac, who’s kind of a bully. She’s from “the us” side of things, and she hides a lot of insecurities in herself, but she shows it by being cheeky to everyone. She wants to be the best, but only has a couple of friends because no one likes her. Her opposite from the parallel universe is Cam, who is quiet and doesn’t really speak much, but I feel like they can learn a lot from each other: he’s telling her to be kinder, she’s telling him to be braver and speak up more. I wouldn’t say I’m cheeky to people but I’d say I’m very open and I talk quite a lot. I wouldn’t say I’m quiet, so I’m probably more Mac.
Why did you audition for this project? And why in general did you choose performing arts?
MI: I went for Tuesday because I do want to do acting in the future. Doing something to do with the National Theatre is, well, for me, a great opportunity. To get involved with something like that is just something I couldn’t pass up. Being part of the performing arts is something I’ve always wanted to do and something I continue to love doing. Getting to do stuff like this just makes it even better.
CM: Performing arts is definitely something I consider doing in the future – drama in general. The only thing that worries me about it is, before doing Tuesday – and even before doing performing arts in school – I asked myself, “Do I even have the ability to do this, to carry this on as a career?” But then, after doing performing arts and Tuesday, it has given me more confidence – especially Tuesday. It makes me feel more serious; it feels more real, like something you actually would see performed – which is why I love it so much! It made me feel like I can actually do proper plays and proper scripts if I really try.
MM: I do performing arts… Actually, at GCSE level, once I started, it was more for me to take up a creative subject and help me reach out, because I wasn’t very confident at that stage. Now that I’m in A-levels, I’ve taken this as an extracurricular because it’s part of meeting new people as well, which helped a lot with that confidence. I just keep building up that skill, that sociability you get with other people and just learning how to become a better actor.
CCl: I wanted to have fun with friends, become a better actor and make my parents proud. I think about doing performing arts in the future, but not right now. I get really nervous when I go on-stage.
SL: I auditioned for Tuesday because it just really helps in terms of acting. I do want to do acting when I’m older, but I’m more wanting to go into the technical side. I just enjoy acting that much because it’s with all the people I know and I’m friends with. It’s just a really great experience to do this with the National Theatre.
CCr: I love acting. I’ve always been involved in all that – acting and stage performances – since primary school. I just always wanted to do it and I think this is a really good opportunity for our school. Being able to do it in front of Lyric, that’s really cool.
Matthew, you made your TV debut in the BBC series Hope Street. Did you take anything you learned from being on a TV set into this production?
MI: I think patience is something I took from that, because, normally, when you’re in a very professional environment, you’re working with other professionals. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a professional, but you’re working with people that have been in the industry for years, and you’re coming back learning about their patience and spending hours on-set constantly working on-camera. Coming back and doing Tuesday, you’ve got to remember that none of us are professionals and it takes time to work through everything – to make sure everything’s up to scratch and making sure everything’s good. We’re just trying to put on the best performance we can.
What other themes in Tuesday resonate with you the most?
MI: Probably relationships, because you’ve got all these people and all these different relationships that come through with everyone’s characters. Jay and Alex are both from two different universes, and they’re similar, but not really. They automatically have this love-hate relationship; they both think they’re incredibly smart and they both want to be the one that’s trying to figure everything out, but you also see how they try to help each other. I think the relationship aspect of it is probably something that resonates with me because I have a lot of friends and I love my friends. It’s great to be able to do this with them – to be able to see everybody else’s relationships come through, and also to act as different characters with my friends is a great experience.
CM: Forgiveness is the first thing that comes to mind. What I noticed at the very start was each character’s ability to forgive after they all fall out. Ash and Magpie – watching those two is great as well because they fall out over Ash blaming Magpie for something she didn’t do.
MM: Definitely one of them is relationships, and how different people and similar people can behave around one another – how they develop and how they grow, how they figure out their problems and how they solve everything.
SL: A big topic in Tuesday is how so many people are different – different versions of you and how your experiences can make you different in life. For example, one character is brought up in a very upbeat life, she’s at the top of her class, but in another universe she’s the bad girl, doesn’t do or like anything to do with school. The experiences in life make you different.
Would you ever want to meet an alternate version of yourself – someone who made all the choices you weren’t able to make?
MI: I don’t know. I think I would. I hope that they’d be doing something that I would’ve liked. I’ve wanted to do a lot of stuff and acting’s been something I wanted to do for a long time. They’d have to go way back in years to some sort of decision that was made. It was between acting and singing so maybe they’re a singer… I don’t know! I feel like I would just talk to them about their life and what stuff they’ve done differently and what I’ve done differently, and just see how the two lives match up.
CM: No. I feel like it’d be scary – obviously – but, also, I don’t know if it’d make me feel bad. What if they’re so much better than me? If they’re so much worse then I would feel bad! I think I’d feel bad either way, whether they’re better or worse. I just wouldn’t want that.
MM: I would say no, and I feel like I could see that in Alex as well, because she does have that contrasting relationship and some barriers at first when she meets Jay.
CCl: I think it’d be cool. Imagine seeing someone that looks just like you – I think that’s the case for most people who have siblings.
SR: That’s a hard question, but I think I would, just to see how I would turn out. I don’t think I would like them very much.
CCr: Yeah, that would be so cool! Like, a different hair colour or anything like that… or if they have different hobbies and if they’re good at other things that I’ve never got into, or they got into different things when they were younger that I didn’t get into – things that I didn’t want to do but they did, and see if I’d be good at them.
What other performing arts projects would you like to do in the near future?
MI: I would love to do Hamilton. We just recently went to London and the West End, and we had seen a performance of Hamilton – it was incredible, and it’s something that, when I watched it, I knew it was just so much energy, and the songs were incredible! It would be a great thing to do when I’m more professional and getting into the industry a bit more. It’s something I’d really love to do.
CM: I thought about this because I’m in lower sixth now, and I’m getting to that point where I’d have to really decide on what I want my career to be. Right now, it’s between doing computers and performing arts as well – definitely thinking about it. It’s sort of my own confidence holding me back a tiny bit, but, as I said, this has helped a lot. If I were to take on performing arts in the future… I’ve got an interest in doing TV – I haven’t done it, but I feel like I’d like it better. I’d love to be Spider-Man!
MM: I would like to do a Shakespeare one, one day. I think that would be interesting because I’m an English student and I’m studying English right now; it’d be interesting to see how different that can be from some of the contemporary plays that we do now. That would be fun to even play a character like Lady Macbeth or something.
CCl: I really want to do Matilda and be Matilda, because I like singing as well. So, Matilda the Musical, or maybe Alice in Wonderland. Not as Alice – an animal or something.
SR: I would love to be a part of this new play that was recently out. I watched the musical of it – Back to the Future – and I just fell in love with it, because it was just so good and stunning and I would love to do stage management with it.
CCr: I would love to do Rapunzel in Tangled, Frozen – I love the songs in Frozen; The Greatest Showman I would love to do, and Annie – that’s kind of cool. Any musicals that just involve singing.
Tuesday is part of The Connections Festival by the National Theatre and will open with this cast at Saint Patrick’s College Ballymena on 21st of March 2023, before moving to the Lyric Theatre, Belfast on 24th March 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.