Pieces of me: Stephen Faloon, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre manager
Theatre manager Stephen Faloon loves his refurbished Herbert Simms house – especially the 60in flat-screen television
Stephen Faloon with the Livres sign he picked out of a skip in Paris.
A photograph of his grand-parents saved from a fire. Photograph: Eric Luke
Stephen Faloon, the manager of the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, maintains that he can’t sing, dance or act, yet always knew he was destined for a life in theatre. When he was growing up in Tyrone, Faloon worked behind the scenes in his local Bardic theatre and took part in many amateur productions. He then studied business and economics in Trinity College Dublin followed by a master’s in arts management but ended up working for the Golden Pages for almost a decade.
In 2006 he was appointed manager of the newly-opened Mill Theatre at the Dundrum Town Centre. Four years later, he was brought in to manage the Grand Canal Theatre, now known as the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. “At first it was impossible to attract any shows as we were smack bang in the middle of the recession, but with a lot of graft and Irish charm, we’ve managed to stage over 250 productions in the past seven years,” he says.
In April, Fallon and his partner, Bernard Gilna, bought a 1930’s Herbert Simms design house in Harold’s Cross, Dublin 8 and have just completed their refurbishment project.
How did you manage a full renovation in just four months?
“We hit the jackpot with this house, and it helps that Bernard was the architect and that the builder, Michael Faloon, happens to be my brother. From the beginning, all our stars aligned. The previous owners even let us apply for planning permission to extend before we had finalised the sale. We’ve added two stories, dug out a new garden space and invested a lot in external insulation (well actually the Government grant covered most of that part, which was handy). I’d pop by every week to monitor the progress and freak out over the amount we were spending on skips, but my main job was to act as mediator when the brother and Bernard were at loggerheads over brick finishes. The result genuinely feels like a home for life.
What’s your favourite space in the house?
The newly-added den. I love the floor-to-ceiling doors, which look out onto the soon-to-be-tackled garden. My one non-negotiable when building was to have a recessed, top of the range 60” flat screen, while Bernard’s was lots of light and triple glazing. So, we both got our way in the den, and there’s a small wood stove burning away under the TV too, which gives the room that snug factor too.
Clearly, you love art. How did you amass so many pieces?
We don’t have enough walls to hang up all the pieces we own. I was once given a great tip by an art dealer: attend the National College of Art and Design end-of-year student sale, which I did religiously for years and picked up many incredible works for a song. Now you rarely get paintings there – it’s more abstract installations and obscure stuff than oil and canvas. Art shopping also tends to be a bit of an occupational hazard. In the Mill Theatre in Dundrum we used to host art exhibits, and I’d always end up buying some of the artist’s work. And Bernard’s architectural practice is in Fumbally Exchange, so he’s also partial to picking up a painting or photograph that he spots on show there too.
Do you have a favourite artist?
My dad took me to the Tate London in 1992 to see a Magritte exhibition. His work blew my mind and still transfixes me today. I also fell in love with a Bartosz Cartola painting of a man by the swimming pool, which I felt it played homage to David Hockney’s camp style of painting, so I blew all my SSIA savings on it. It’s still my favourite piece, so it was worth the splurge.
What would you save in a fire?
I have an original Faloon family photo, shot in New Mills in Co Tyrone that dates back to 1911. My great-grandparents and grandparents are in it, and the whole clan is dressed up for the day and standing against this very regal backdrop. My grandmother says the family spent months saving up for it and passed hours sitting stone-faced for it – which is probably why they all look so severe.
Where do you shop for interiors?
In Dublin, I love CA design in Ranelagh and have one of their couches on my Santa list for the den. I’m a big fan of Tom Vac furniture which you can buy through the John Lewis department stores. I also love a bit of salvage and found the big Livres sign that sits on the fireplace in the kitchen in a skip in Paris. They were throwing it out from an old bookshop, so I retrieved that quick smart. And of course, we’ve a few IKEA pieces in the mix too.
Any international interiors destination worth visiting?
Other than Parisian skips – defiantly Madrid. Start with a visit to the Prado gallery to get the creative synapses firing. Then head over to Chueca district – it’s just off the Grand Via and is buzzing with amazing galleries, concept stores, boutiques and craft shops on every corner. It’s not a typically touristy area, so prices are inexpensive and the level of creativity sky high.
If you had €100,000 to spend on the house tomorrow what would you do?
I’d spend it all on the back garden. I want a low-maintenance yet dramatic landscape out there. I’m thinking lots of manicured trees, tiling and paving, a swing set for my niece, a dramatic light show and perhaps some sculptures – something of real visual interest like the Urban Forest at Grand Canal Dock. If it happens to go missing one day, you’ll know where to look.