Boxing clever with theatre podcasts that punch above their weight
Promotion, promotion, promotion
But the podcasts contain bigger lessons about how to reconceive a traditionally ad hoc performing career within a beleaguered industry.
There were two strands to the podcast, he says: “to promote, support and celebrate Irish theatre, but also to get word out about Rise and about me. You can’t get away from the fact that it is, in essence, an hour-long infomercial about me as a freelance actor, and for the company, going out into influential ears.”
Founded with Brian Melarkey, Rise Productions has had to be innovative within tight constraints. The podcast, for instance, was edited on McAnally’s laptop and, on more than one occasion, was recorded in his car – “our outside broadcast unit”.
Without funding for further theatre productions, Rise’s future “micro-projects” include radio drama and work for camera, disseminated to their large base of subscribers. Yet the last thing McAnally really wants to do is diversify. “No, the goal is always to get back to the stage. I think of everything we make as being theatre.”
But even though he’s been doing the interviews for a year, and is a second-generation broadcaster, he is surprisingly uncomfortable with the role. “The worst thing that could happen is that I would become known as an interviewer rather than an actor,” he says.
He agrees that his interviews, which invariably begin with a gush of praise for his subject, hardly count as a grilling. “Absolutely. I pulled my punches throughout and I had to for a number of reasons. It wasn’t the job of the podcast to be critical. It was the job of the podcast to support. It has to be that simple.” Such boosterism, he says, even cost him a few guests.
But McAnally was motivated by something deeper too: an urge to get ephemeral voices on the record. “It’s just the transient nature of the work,” he says. “It’s not like film. It’s not there forever. Theatre people disappear. If you’re lucky you’re left with a memory.”
The result, then, now stored in digital memory, stands as an affectionate, often sentimental and frequently revealing archive of Irish theatre, in which you get a year in the life of the stage and many lives contained within the year.
The Rise Productions Irish Theatre podcast is available on iTunes