'Just do what makes you happy': Fair City actor Peter Corboy on worrying less and living more

Actor Peter Corboy in conversation with Hilary Fennell.

'Just do what makes you happy': Fair City actor Peter Corboy on worrying less and living more

I didn’t always know I wanted to pursue acting professionally, but I always knew I wanted to act.

Kilmuckridge, the village I’m from, has an annual drama festival and growing up it was an insanely exciting part of the year.

It de-mystified acting for me. Having access to that kind of community-led passion for theatre was brilliant.

I think people can find the concept of getting on stage really terrifying, but I got to watch my neighbours — farmers, teachers, nurses, whatever — get up and do it year after year, and give some of the best performances I’ve ever seen.

Both of my parents are really into art, so, growing up, there was a kind of “creative” vibe around the place.

My mum is a primary school teacher, so there was a lot of drawing and painting at home.

Before acting, I wanted to be an illustrator, animator, graphic novelist or video game creator.

Oddly, I think that’s what attracted me to acting as well.

In theatre, not only do you get to create an imaginary world, but you get to inhabit it as well.

My Fair City role came about when my agents gave me a buzz and asked me if I wanted to audition.

They asked me back to read against Martha Fitzpatrick (who plays Charlotte on the show) who my character has a bit of a fling with.

Then a few days later they offered me the part.

I have difficulty keeping a work-life balance.

Part of being an actor is that you’re constantly searching for the next gig, and even though that’s part of the fun it’s also incredibly draining because you just never stop.

I’ve gotten better at carving out time for myself though.

Sometimes you just have to book the holiday, make the time, do the thing, and let everything else fall into place around that.

I respond really well to routine, and when I have a timetable I’m usually good at sticking to it.

But the longer the break between gigs the more I likely I am to transform into a slug.

My favourite advice is a line from a Matt Haig book: “Never be cool. Never try and be cool. Never worry what the cool people think. Head for the warm people. Life is warmth. You’ll be cool when you’re dead.”

My biggest fault is comparing myself to others. What with Instagram and all that, it’s basically impossible to avoid falling into it — especially so for actors.

I’m probably at my happiest just hanging out with my mates. I have a really close circle of friends, but we’re all a bit scattered these days.

When we do manage to get on the same landmass, that’s peak joy for me.

My idea of misery is Leaving Certificate maths.

I wouldn’t care so much about being reborn as someone else but I’d love to be reborn as something else.

Top of the list is probably a bird, some kind of falcon.

The thing I find most irritating about other people is — those who are slow walkers.

My main skill is that I have really dextrous toes.

I’m a lark, definitely. I love getting up super early before anyone else is awake.

One thing I didn’t learn in school, which I wish I had done, is theatre.

I think when people hear the word ‘theatre’ they think of this all-singing, all-dancing production of Annie or something. Which is great. I love Annie.

But there’s just so many other facets to it. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, with so many transferrable skills.

I watched a documentary recently about GCSE drama students in London responding to the Grenfell fire, and it was so exciting to see them create a powerful, socially responsive piece of theatre, and to feel real ownership over it.

I don’t really believe in life after death. 

I don’t think we meet again in some magical afterlife, but I’d say our collective consciousness probably blobs together in some kind of giant space-nebula-melting-pot and reenters the infinite lifestream of the universe.

So far life has taught me to stop worrying. Stop it.

You only have about 90 years on this planet. Just do what makes you happy.

Peter Corboy stars in Rough Magic’s Much Ado About Nothing which premieres at Kilkenny Arts Festival 2019 (August 8-17) and also tours: November 9-22; for more info see: www.kilkennyarts.ie/programme/much-ado-about-nothing or tour info at: www.roughmagic.ie/archive/much-ado-about-nothing/

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