My cohost John Lee, got to know Alison McKenna some years back when she was living in NYC. Alison lives in London now where she continues to ply her trade in the performing arts, but back in April 2016 she stood at the center of the Centenary Commemoration of the Easter Rising when she acted as consulting producer at the request of the Irish Consulate in New York.
I will admit total ignorance on how actor's manage their work life. There is an old joke in NYC:
Question: What do you call an actor?
While that barely ticks the box in terms of humor, cruelty might be a more apt descriptor, it does touch on the challenges many actors face in terms of the volatility faced in the course of their careers. Frequently actors pursue their trade supported by a potpourri of side hustles while they try to break through to regular, consistent work.
With that level of ignorance, I was delighted to have Alison walk us through her career which started in Dublin in her teenage years and took her to both London and New York. What shines through is her ability to adapt and take on different projects which were clearly stretches at various points in her career. Some stretches proved to have successful outcomes, others yielded stressful moments as Alison attests to in the podcast, but I took away from our conversation a better understanding of how adaptable a performing artist truly has to be in order to succeed
Now resident in London, Alison continues to act and produce and has most recently taken on spoken voice work. Listening to the podcast explains why she will be successful in that space with her perfect diction and relaxed style. I'm delighted that Alison has been kind enough to provide us with a number of memorable poetry readings since the initial podcast. You can find them over on our Youtube Poetry Playlist. Here she is reading Yeats' masterwork Easter 1916: