How did you start off in theatre?
I directed my cousins on a homemade stage – kitted out with curtains on a pulley and wings – in my living room. I studied music education at Trinity College Dublin and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, then at the Kodaly Institute of the Liszt Ferenc Academy, Hungary, before doing an MA in theatre directing at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
What your best advice for students today?
The same advice that I have always tried to follow myself: work hard and be kind.
What would you change about training?
Professional musical theatre training is really only in its infancy in Ireland, with the introduction of our first BA in musical theatre in Cork this year, as well as the launch of Irish Youth Musical Theatre, our national youth musical theatre training company. I hope over the next few years we see the necessary support – including access to fiscal, social and expert resources – given to such educational bodies to offer excellence in training that is accessible to all.
What is the best part of your job?
Working with young actors to create memorable moments of theatre that pushes boundaries, both internal and external.
And your least favourite?
Constantly feeling the need to stand up for musical theatre as an art form at home. I hope that over the next two years, we see more authentic, in-house Irish musicals produced in Dublin theatres.
What will a national youth company do to help develop musical theatre in Ireland?
We have such incredible Irish talent treading the boards in both the West End and Broadway, with the likes of Rachel Tucker, Killian Donnelly, Fra Fee, David Shannon, and of course, Colm Wilkinson, all being tremendous role models. I hope that, through IYMT, we can help celebrate these successes on home shores, and show the next generation that similar careers in the industry are possible if you have the talent, passion and tenacity.
Séimí Campbell is artistic director of Irish Youth Musical Theatre and also teaches at the Royal Irish Academy of Music