Ingrid Craigie (68) is one of Ireland’s finest actresses, known for her powerful performances and versatility. Born in Cork, grew up in Dublin and lives in Portobello.
I grew up in Finglas. My grandfather started a dairy with his brothers which later became Premier Dairies. We grew up nearby, and there were acres of fields all around us. All the horses were released there each day after their round.
Choose three words to describe yourself.
Positive, optimistic and resilient.
Tell us about your time at Trinity College and your inspiring faculty.
We had Brendan Kennelly and David Norris and their happiness was exceptional. They made you love literature and learn more.
Why has it always been difficult for you to act against authority?
My father was in the army and he was a very honorable man. He respected authority and he always found that those in authority were as honorable as he was. It was a great shock to discover that people are not like that. So I wasn’t a natural rebel.
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Who do you admire most and why?
My late mother was a fantastic woman and pragmatic. She made decisions later in life that were difficult, but she made it work for her.
After my father and uncle died, she decided to move into assisted living. It gave her a new attitude towards life. Then, when she needed more medical care, she decided to go into a nursing home. She was a funny woman and instantly made people love her.
What drives you?
My friends are incredibly important to me because I live on my own now. I see her often. And a cultural life has increased my understanding and compassion.
You acted in John Huston’s film The Dead. Tell us more.
In one scene, my character is playing the piano. When I auditioned, I told them I had played the piano as a child, but left out that I hadn’t played since. Before we started shooting, Frank Patterson’s wife taught me fingering for the piece. People thought I actually played it.
Tell us about the play you’re in.
Dinner with Groucho is about the writers TS Eliot and Groucho Marx. They were mutual fans and they corresponded and met. I am the owner and I summon these two men, like a séance, and they have dinner together. It is very funny.
Tell us about a memorable performance you saw.
Donal McCann in the original production by Brian Friel faith healer in the abbey. I’ve seen it three times. I came out shaking. It was an amazing piece and Donal had a beautiful voice. It would fascinate you. There was a vulnerability, a danger, and a viciousness to it—and all of that was needed for the role.
You were in Faith Healer at the Gate with Ralph Fiennes. Was there a circus atmosphere with a movie star on the show?
He’s a very serious actor and he just did the work and ignored all that stuff. People would fly in from the States. An American woman, mid-40s, told me she found out he was in the first and last parts of the play, so she would leave when he wasn’t on stage. I hated it. She had obviously never been to a theater in her life.
Another night, after we had all gone out to eat, a woman walked up to Ralph and said “mhm, mhh”. He’s an attractive man, but it’s strange to be so objectified.
Is it hard to deal with the unpredictability of trading?
The instability of being an actor equips you for life. We are all under the illusion that we are in control of our lives and making choices, but the reality is who knows what will happen.
If you don’t get a role, how do you deal with the rejection?
All you can do is love the work and do it to the best of your creative ability. In the end you have to ask yourself, does it matter if you didn’t get the part? You must be thinking, “This is just part of my life, it’s not my whole life”.
The Bespoke Theater Company is presenting Dinner with Groucho at the Civic Theater Tallaght as part of the Dublin Theater Festival until October 1st. Tour at The Mac Belfast 5th-9th October. dinnerwithgroucho.com
https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-features/upfront-with-ingrid-craigie-the-instability-of-an-actors-life-equips-you-for-life-42011935.html Upfront with Ingrid Craigie: ‘The instability of an actor’s life sets you up for life’