Tipperary actress welcomes chance to bring one woman show to Clonmel
Test copy tells story of student trying to fit into the competitive world of her peers
“One of the most interesting things was a young girl approached me afterwards and she was delighted that my hair was messy and my trousers looked ridiculous and I kept tugging at my jumper and that was important to me because I want ‘Test Copy’ to speak to the wider community.”
“I went to Presentation Secondary School in Thurles but it’s not autobiographical - it tells the story of Transition Year student, Louise Fennessy from the fictional town of Slievemore and the struggles she faces as she strives to be accepted by her peers at St Catherine’s Secondary School.
“I was reading a lot about Ireland and the fact we have the highest female teen suicide rate in Europe and what interested me from the character’s point of view was the cry for help and how dramatic circumstances can be for someone so young who is already so under the radar.”
Purcell first began toying with the idea for the play three years ago but it was only in October that she began writing and, although it started tumbling out in torrents, it took several rewrites with assistance from Corcadorca Artistic Director, Pat Kiernan before she was happy with the result.
“We follow Louise’s struggle to stand out among the diverse personalities and in the world of Test Copy, the power and the popularity lies with the girl who garners respect through fear through a culture of organised fighting and we see Louise as she gets the attention of this very unlikely crowd.
“This is a dream come true because these are the most popular girls in the school but as soon as they bring her in, they spit her back out again and that doesn’t sit well with her - she goes from pleasant nobody to top dog to nobody again - it all sounds very serious but it’s a black comedy.”
A graduate of the Gaiety School of Acting, Littleton-born Purcell is particularly looking forward to bringing the play to Clonmel this weekend - a sort of second home coming for her after the Nenagh Arts Centre which produced the play and has been hugely supportive of her.
“It’s important for me that I perform this play in Tipperary because that’s where it started first and foremost and I didn’t want to try to make and break it in Dublin so it’s great it’s getting a second outing at Clonmel Junction and hopefully a chance speak to more people like that girl in Nenagh.”