This much I know with writer and performer Joanne Ryan

This much I know with writer and performer Joanne Ryan

From age 6, I was on stage. I started with school plays but it never occurred to me that it would become my job. I was an outgoing and precocious child, probably quite annoying. Which I think is a trend in only children because you spend so much time around adults.

I did an Arts degree and lived in Thailand for most of my 20s, teaching English and working as a freelance journalist and then an editor for The Bangkok Post. I started performing again when I moved back to Ireland in 2009.

The decision was made easier by the financial crash I returned to. I’d assumed it would be easy for me to get a job in journalism but nobody was hiring new freelancers so that forced me to concentrate on performance. Creatively, it was great.

I did an intensive Irish course and got cast in Ros na Rún for a couple of years. I don’t believe in fate. I think the way our lives evolve is based on so many different things, but I do believe we have to make the best of our circumstances.

I live in Limerick, where I grew up. It’s an exciting place to be as an artist. There’s a real cultural Renaissance going on down here. The biggest challenge I’ve had to face was my dad dying suddenly in 2013. He fell down the stairs. I found him a couple of days later. It took a long time to recover from the shock.

Transcendental Meditation helped, whilst I did it. It certainly improved my productivity and clarity of thought. I have that tool, which I can use at any moment, the problem is, I don’t do it often enough these days. I say I don’t have time, but I’ve time to scroll down Twitter every day so I don’t think that’s the truth. I think there is something inbuilt in our brains that makes it hard for us to do the things we know are good for us.

I’m a disaster at separating my work life and personal life, particularly now that I’m doing mainly passion projects. The problem is that sometimes I can afford to hire a producer to work with me, but usually I cannot so I will be working pretty much on my own. It’s an enormous amount of work, I’d say those of us who work like that do the work of three people.

My son is eight months old and he’s coming on the road with me for my new show Eggsistentialism. I wrote it in 2015 when I was 35 and it charts my journey to decide whether or not to have a child. I realised I’d never thought about it.

Obviously. My mum plays herself, in audio recordings throughout. She got pregnant in 1979, when it was neither safe nor cool to be an unmarried mother in Ireland, so she moved to London to have me. I’ve up-dated the material for this tour.

I met my partner Rob on Tinder. It was the first date I had, once I moved back to Limerick. I’d started doing stand-up comedy and thought I’d give Tinder a go, to get material. Rob works in digital marketing but he understands my world. I don’t believe in a God or an afterlife.

My idea of misery is having to stuff pillows into pillow cases all day. I used to have horrendous stage fright. I’d get very ill before I went on stage. I did a course on stand-up in the Gaiety, which included some sessions on Neuro Linguistic Programming. It cured me. I still get jittery, of course, but I can control it. Much better for the endocrinesystem.

My idea of bliss is sitting beside a roaring fire, with good food and company, all nice and cosy, when it’s raining outside. My worst fault is indecisiveness. I find the process of writing difficult. I have to drag it out of me kicking and screaming, my levels of procrastination are incredible. I’ll do everything, down to sorting out every drawer, before I get started.

My most important skill is a certain openness. A willingness to be honest. That allows me to connect with audiences. So far life has taught me that there is no point agonising over major decisions. I worried so much about whether or not to have a child. Now I believe that, no matter which decision you make when faced with a choice, there are simply different outcomes.

Writer/performer, Joanne Ryan, is currently on a nationwide tour with ‘Eggsistentialism’, her multi award-winning show. All tour dates and details on joanneryan.ie

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