Drawn to drama

By Sonia Isaacs

ARRIVING in Australia just prior to the covid pandemic, Ireland’s Theresa Horgan has fallen in love with the hinterland while at the same time continuing to celebrate her Irish heritage.

In the midst of rehearsals for the upcoming performance of Maleny Players’ production of Dancing at Lughnasa, Theresa has also been competing to be named the ‘Queensland Rose of Tralee’.

Theresa was being co-sponsored by the Maleny Players and Patricks Irish Bar and Grill Tranquil Park in her bid to become the Queensland ambassador.

While ultimately unsuccessful this year, she said she was extremely honoured to have been selected for the competition that acknowledged the ambitions, intellect, social responsibility, and Irish heritage of modern young women.

“I think it a beautiful celebration of women and Irish heritage,” she said.

“It showcases aspects of our intrinsic values, with an emphasis on social and community contributions. It’s a wonderful opportunity to promote, preserve and share our culture with the world.”

Theresa first arrived in Australia in 2019, and although trained and currently working as a primary school teacher across the region, she said she had always been drawn to creative pursuits and in particular acting as a side hobby. Originally from County Cork, Ireland Theresa has previously attended the prestigious Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and is a proudly fluent Gaeilge speaker.

“English is actually my second language!  I grew up in Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh which is a native Irish speaking village and one of only a small pocket of places left in the country that still predominantly speak the national language, so all my primary and high school lessons were in Gaeilge” explained Theresa.

Theresa said she had contemplated following a drama and theatrical degree at Uni, however decided to become a teacher.

She is currently living in Australia on a career break from her teaching position in Ireland.

While visiting her sister in Victoria, Theresa got involved in a local theatre company; the Torquay Theatre Group who were producing an Irish Play called Harp on the Willow which told the incredible true story of famous Irish singer and harpist Mary O’Hara.

The production garnered seven Victorian Drama League nominations and Theresa was nominated for best actress in a supporting role which she said felt like being nominated for the Oscars.

Theresa said soon after arriving in Australia she met her Australian partner Riley Oborne and around 12 months ago the adventure and outdoor loving couple relocated to Landsborough. A keen hiker who has also traversed mount Kilimanjaro, Theresa said she was drawn to the region because of the beautiful landscape and access to the mountains. “We love living here, the hinterland is just stunning,” she said.

“We both love hiking and to be able to have the Glass House Mountains on our doorstop is incredible. We appreciate where we live every day!” 

Wanting to get involved in local theatre, Theresa said it was entirely by chance that she came across a flyer calling for auditions for an Irish play to be produced by the Maleny players. 

“I was so pleased to be able to become involved in a local theatre group again and I think when I auditioned director Andrew Wallace was quite delighted to have an Irish actor playing one of the key parts,” said Theresa.

“It is an amazing play that was written in the 1990’s and has won load of awards, with Meryl Streep in the film version. Anyone interested in Irish family life and a snapshot of the 1930’s would enjoy the production which has beautifully poignant characters and captures a particularly bittersweet time in Irish history,” explained Theresa.

Theresa said she personally loved Irish history and was extremely proud of being an Irish woman.

She said she enjoyed how the play depicted strong characters who dealt with the brutality of life but still prioritised the importance of family bonds and connections which still ring true today for many Irish people.

Dancing at Lughnasa is on at the Maleny Playhouse, Maleny Showgrounds from Friday June 16-18, and June 23-25.