Making The Most of The Time We Have

Join author, educator, and learner, Annmarie Kelly as she laughs, cries, and kvetches with the writers, musicians, entrepreneurs, and wanderers who inspire all of us to reach beyond our divisions and discover what it means to be wild, precious, and brave.

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Make Sense of Your Self with Derdriu Ring

Make Sense of Your Self with Derdriu Ring

Derdriu Ring always knew she wanted to act, and when she moved from Ireland to the United States, she continued to make this dream come true. Derdriu has performed sold-out shows from Los Angeles to Dublin and she joins us this week to talk about the magic and mystery of her craft. Annmarie and Derdriu discuss the importance of listening, working as an ensemble, and how to welcome adventures into the unknown.

Episode Sponsors:

Literary Cleveland -- Explore other voices and discover your own. Find events workshops and a supportive writing community at litcleveland.org

Mac’s Backs -- A proud Cleveland indie bookstore with three floors for browsing, great online service, and chocolate milkshakes right next door. Find another great read at macsbacks.com

Derdriu Ring is a graduate of the Gaiety School of Acting and a proud member of both the Actor’s Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild.

A selection of plays and venues we discuss in this episode:

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Crucible, by Arthur Miller

The Bog of Cats, by Marina Carr

The Playboy of the Western World, by John Millington Synge

A Long Day’s Journey into Night, by Eugene O’Neill

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

Bye Bye Birdie

Cleveland Play House

Irish Repertory Theatre

Joan Baez singing “Forever Young”

Meghan Trainor singing “Better When I’m Dancing”

All About Eve

A Train for You, written by Finegan Kruckemeyer & illustrated by Andy Ellis



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Annmarie Kelly:
Wild Precious Life is brought to you in part by Literary Cleveland, where you can explore other voices and discover your own. Find events, workshops, and a supportive writing community at Litcleveland.org. And we're brought to you by Mac's Backs, a proud Cleveland indie bookstore with three floors for browsing, great online service and chocolate milkshakes right next door. Find another great read at Macsbacks.com.

Annmarie Kelly:
So as a child, I was a bit theatrical. I tap danced at nursing homes, directed talent shows on the front porch and composed original works from my recorder club. I memorized songs from the Sound of Music and repeatedly staged neighborhood productions of Annie in my upstairs bedroom. If you crossed me, I made you play Miss Hannigan. But it was not until high school that I actually auditioned for anything.

Annmarie Kelly:
In my first musical working, I sang backup for a factory worker and a housewife. I had no lines and no costume changes, and I spent roughly 11 minutes on stage, most of it pretending to clip coupons. I spent so much time offstage that I could make a McDonald's run during the show and still make it back for curtain call. I played an extra in Moliere's The Miser and an unnamed teenager in Bye Bye Birdie. Senior year, I got a big break in what turned out to be my last musical, Godspell. My boyfriend and I broke up the week before, and then I caught a cold and lost my voice. So on opening night, I had to lip sync my own solo while a friend actually sang it for me.

Annmarie Kelly:
As I look back on these bit parts and botched scenes, I find it hilarious that I grew up thinking of myself as a singer, dancer and actor. Of course, it's nonsense. I am no more an actor than I am a snake charmer, but the things we try as children stick, even if they don't turn out to be true. And moreover, I know some of my confidence and poise and sense of myself came from those times when I stood on a stage and sang off key in the spotlight.

Annmarie Kelly:
That is one of the reasons I am so excited to talk to today's guest because she has actually lived the dream I dream. She too caught the theater bug at a young age, but unlike me, she was actually good at it. In fact, she's more than good, she's incandescent. Derdriu Ring is a graduate of The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland, and a proud member of both the Actors' Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. Derdriu has joyfully performed in many local, national and international theaters all across North America and Ireland. And she has been named best actor and supporting actor in a number of those cities.

Annmarie Kelly:
From Dracula to Steel Magnolias, she's played countless role that are household names, but even more impressive is the list of Derdriu's plays that many of us have always meant to see or longed to see, Proof, Hobson's Choice, There Is a Happiness That Morning Is, a Long Day's Journey Into Night, and dozens more.

Annmarie Kelly:
Derdriu has been a teaching artist with Playhouse Square, passionately involved with their international children's festival and the Broadway Summer Camp. She's also served as an artist in residence with both Cleveland School of the Arts and Kulture Kids. And Derdriu's proudest accomplishments to date are her two miracles, Rosie and Henry. My friend Derdriu Ring, welcome to Wild Precious Life.

Derdriu Ring:
Thank you, my friend, Annmarie.

Annmarie Kelly:
I'm glad you're here.

Derdriu Ring:
I'm so happy to be here.

Annmarie Kelly:
So we always start with the same question here at Wild Precious Life, make it long and winding, make it short and snappy, you can do the bullet points, it doesn't matter to me at all, but Derdriu, will you tell us your story?

Derdriu Ring:
I will, but as you asked me to tell my story, I have my father's voice in my head saying, "Was it raining?" Because that was a cue for us to know that our story was very long and very winding. And if the person that was talking and giving this very long winded story answered the question, was it raining with, well, it was kind of a dry day or it was a sunny day, that's when you knew you were in big trouble, because they actually answered the question, they didn't get the clue, they were not clued in. So with respect to my father, I'll try and keep it brief.

Derdriu Ring:
I came over to America, 25 years ago to Cleveland, Ohio. I auditioned for the Cleveland Playhouse because I needed to work on some audition pieces. I was still in acting school back in Dublin. And I met a wonderful man called Peter Hackett who ran the Cleveland Playhouse at the time who offered me a job there and then on the spot. And I was like, "I'm sorry, I got to go back to school, but I'll write to you." And this is the days when people used to write to people and long, long letters. And so Peter and I wrote each other letters for the next three years, because I acted quite a bit in Dublin before I came to America. And he said, "Anytime you come over." So I would send him reviews, I would keep him updated on what I was doing.

Derdriu Ring:
And then there was a thing called, was it a Morrison visa? I think it was a Morrison visa. So we had a lottery system in Ireland whereby you would win a visa to America and you'd enter the lottery every year. And I entered the lottery one year, my mother entered the lottery for me another year and I won both lotteries.

Annmarie Kelly:
What? What?

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah. Well, you're not supposed to. You're really not supposed to do that. So I figured, well I should at least go over and get myself checked in to America so that I don't lose one of these winnings. And that's really how it happened. And when I decided I was going to come to America, it was not a long term plan. Although, I did buy a one way ticket, because I thought, I have to give it a shot, if I get a return, it means I haven't given it a shot. So I've never bought that ticket back. I ended up here working all over the country and started in the Cleveland Playhouse and basically like a gypsy traveled all across America in my twenties and early thirties and then ended up meeting a guy and settled.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh.

Derdriu Ring:
I know, right? They do that to us. And then I settled down here in Chagrin Falls, Cleveland, Ohio.

Annmarie Kelly:
Well, we are lucky to have you. Back in Ireland, was this the future you dreamed for yourself?

Derdriu Ring:
It was, but it wasn't something that you would really choose as a career. When I was in high school, I told my career teacher who was a bit of a joke to begin with, I told him ... We used to have these leaflets and you pick up the leaflets, do you want to be an engineer? Do you want to be a lawyer? And then there was, do you want to be, I found the one that said actress. It didn't say actor, it said actress and I go, "I want to do that." And I knew it from when I was about seven. I was playing a witch. I'm good at witches still, but I was paying a witch and I scared the front row of the audience. And I thought, oh, this is magic, I have power. It was the first time I felt I had power and that it was fun and that I could be something else. And I thought, this is what I want to do.

Derdriu Ring:
So I said to this career guidance teacher, this is what I want to do and he just laughed at me like really loudly, you're joking. Don't be ridiculous. Don't be ridiculous. That's a hobby. That's not something that you do for a living. So I went on. And my parents were like, "Nope."

Annmarie Kelly:
That's sensible.

Derdriu Ring:
No, absolutely not. No. And so I did my degree in music and English, but the first week I went to University College Cork, I joined the Dramat Society as you do and was cast in The Crucible, but one of the older women, I wasn't cast as the young lead. And I called my mom on a phone in the wall because they didn't have cell phones and I said, "Mom, I really want to be an actor. I don't want to do my degree," and she just hung up on me.

Derdriu Ring:
So I went through college, I did my degree and I handed my parents the degree and I said, "Now I'm going to do what I want to do. I'm going to go to theater school." And they still said no. And my sister then who finally stepped in, she's 10 years older than me and she secretly wanted to be an actor herself and she goes, "Enough, let her do what she wants to do." So I auditioned for The Gaiety School of Acting. And I went there for, it was a two year, very intensive course and studied acting there.

Annmarie Kelly:
I always wanted to be an actor. So I tried out for all the shows in high school and I would be the one who'd like march in to The Diary of Anne Frank audition thinking, hey, I might get the lead. My name is Annmarie and the play is about an Anne. That's probably good enough.

Derdriu Ring:
That's logical. Actually, I'm buying it, I'm buying it.

Annmarie Kelly:
And then of course I wouldn't be cast as that. And I actually can remember, we did Bye Bye Birdie, that musical about the Elvis type character who comes to town. And I remember I got my very first line, but it was delivered in the dark during a scene change. I still remember it. I said, "I found a lock of someone's hair. I wonder if it's his." And I must have practiced that line a thousand times, like in different accents, I found a lock of someone's hair. I wonder if it's his. Or like theatrical, I found a lock of someone's hair. I wonder if it's his.

Derdriu Ring:
Oh by gosh, you were going to get the most out of that one line.

Annmarie Kelly:
I mean, it was during a scene change, in the dark, I was an unnamed Telephone Hour character. But I was desperate to act, but had absolutely no idea how to do it. And still to this day, I'm terrified trying to be anybody other than myself. So what do you learn in acting school? What were the things that would've helped me to learn? What do you study?

Derdriu Ring:
Well, you know what? I'll be honest with you, I've learned more outside of acting school than I have in acting school. And the reason I say that is I was very, very lucky in that I happened to be in rehearsal rooms after school with some of the best actors in the world. And so I learned from them, I really and truly learned from them. And I would take notes and I would watch and notice. And especially in Ireland, there's a huge tradition, as there is in England as well, a lot of actors, the older generation didn't have acting school, but they had skills that they learned through vaudeville, through variety shows. So they bring this very rich tradition that is kind of getting lost actually, I think, of coming up through ... A lot of them would've started as stage managers, they would've started as stage hands.

Derdriu Ring:
It's all about reacting to the energy that you're getting, as opposed to acting and getting up there and saying your lines. It's about what am I trying to say to this other person, and what is that other person giving me? And I'm going to take that energy and I'm going to give it back to them, and therefore there's going to be this beautiful communication between us. There's going to be a give and take.

Derdriu Ring:
Technically, obviously in acting school, we did a lot of mime. We had an amazing mime teacher who had studied with Marcel Marceau. Those were very intense classes. We had dance classes, we had tap classes. We had gentlemen who taught us Makko Ho, which is a Japanese form of ... I think it's actually used for fighting, but we never did that. It was all the very slow movements like tai chi, we did it at tai chi speed. And then we did a lot of script analysis. And then we wrote our own plays.

Derdriu Ring:
At the end of our two years, we had a playwright, Gavin Kostick was his name, a very well-known Irish playwright, come in and write a play specifically for our class. So he spent the last, maybe six months with us. And so he wrote this wonderful play to our strengths, which was a lot of fun. So it was always a sense of excitement at the end of the two years, what the play was going to be, amongst people in Dublin, what's it going to be this year.

Annmarie Kelly:
What part did you have? Do you remember what kind of role you played?

Derdriu Ring:
I believe I was Esther. I was Hungarian, which is funny, because I married a Hungarian. But I was Hungarian and it was very much like the story of the Titanic. And I played the piano and unfortunately Gavin knew that, so he had me be the music accompaniment for all the songs. So I had to learn an awful lot of songs for that. The songs were beautiful though. It was set in the 1920s, so I got to play a lot of songs. And I had a beautiful death at the end, this beautiful slow motion that our mime teacher worked with us, where I died in the water. So there was this beautiful, beautiful slow death that two of us had as the ship came down. And my nephew, Gavin, who was about nine at the time, who's now an incredible tenor in Ireland and very well known, but Gavin was in the audience and all I heard was, "No, Deedee, no," as Deedee died.

Annmarie Kelly:
Well, I have seen you die on stage a number of times. I've also seen you kill. What's harder, dying or killing on stage?

Derdriu Ring:
Okay. Well, I don't know, it depends on the play. It depends on whether it was a good death or a bad death. I guess you have good ones and bad ones, poetic ones and not so poetic ones, ones that are brutal and ones that have a sense of release. But mostly I would say in most of the plays I've done, there is a sense of relief when the character dies because they've earned it. If it's a well written play, they've earned that moment of letting go.

Annmarie Kelly:
I'm wondering how being an immigrant to this country informed your creative talent. So I'm thinking about what it means to be an observer of a culture. I know as a writer, I've moved around a dozen times and so I land in a place and I'm an observer for a while. I have to listen, because I'm not invited to go anywhere yet, no one knows me. So how do you think being an immigrant to this country affected your craft?

Derdriu Ring:
That's a really great question. My perception of America was through sitcoms, through American movies, through television. I mean, that was my world into America, my view of it was through the television or through the big screen. So it's a very mythological place, America, to immigrants. It's just this giant exciting Oz. Here's the thing, you can't just be an American, you have to be better than an American. You just have to do it better, in my mind. And so I would actually sit in cafes, I'd go to places and I would have my notebook and take notes. I based a lot of people I know on characters that I've done in plays. I don't think you're in one yet, Annmarie.

Annmarie Kelly:
I'm waiting. I'm waiting to know that the killer is me.

Derdriu Ring:
You just wait. You just wait. Yeah, Medea. No, she was Irish, so you're safe there. But I do observe a lot when I'm doing a show. It's absorption. So it's more than observation, it's absorption. I go and I absorb people.

Annmarie Kelly:
Do you ever get nervous?

Derdriu Ring:
Yes, all the time.

Annmarie Kelly:
I think an assumption we make about actors is that they don't get nervous.

Derdriu Ring:
No, I get nervous all the time, very nervous and it depends. It depends on how high the stakes are. The one person show I recently did was nerve-racking for the first week. After the first week, I found my groove.

Annmarie Kelly:
So then how do you deal with nervousness? Where do you put that nervous energy or that self doubt? How does it show up and what do you do with it?

Derdriu Ring:
I get out of my head. The first thing I have to do is get out of my head. So I do a very, very intensive, physical and vocal warmup beforehand. I play some music that relaxes me, some meditative music. With the one person show, I actually would walk through each scene each night, just mark it, mark it, mark it so that I knew where I was going generally. And then I would get really quiet probably a half an hour before the show. At half hour, I'd just go inside and get super quiet, calm the noises in my head, try and move my mind and all those negative you're not good enough, you're going to fail, you're going to forget a line, you suck, someone's coming tonight and they're going to hate you. And so you put all those thoughts away and tell them to leave. I give them permission to go out the door and then I put my brain in my stomach and we calm ourselves down.

Derdriu Ring:
And then I stand in the wings and there's two things I remember. One, a director once said to me, Tim Douglas said, "Just before you go out, I want you to say this to yourself every time, I don't know. Just say, I don't know." And so I always do that. And then Dorothy Silver and I, lovely Dorothy, we used to say, and I think it came from Jack Lemmon originally, but see you on the ice. So I have the sense of it's an awfully big adventure, I don't know where I'm going and I'm just going to skate and that's it. And you got to let go. It's really about letting go and knowing that you've got it and anything can happen because it's live theater. And enjoy the fact that anything can happen as opposed to being terrified that anything can happen.

Annmarie Kelly:
Wow. I guess I have two thoughts about that. One, that's super helpful to hear. I always think about one of the reasons you're nervous is because you care, you're nervous because your body and your heart and your mind want to do a good job at this thing you care to do a good job doing. So I hear you saying one of the ways I get through nervousness is I prepare, I mark through the steps, I get my voice ready and my body ready. So that totally makes sense to me. And that two, that you embrace the fact that you're actually not in charge of all that happens tonight, that you're going to get out there on the ice and you're going to welcome what comes and in the face of it, do your best. I find that really helpful to think about.

Annmarie Kelly:
I also find myself curious to know what goofy stuff has happened on the stage that you're like, "Wait, what?" Like props that weren't there or actors that ... Tell me some, just like goofball stuff.

Derdriu Ring:
I have a really good one actually. Props that weren't there is a good one because that happens so much more often than the audience knows. So I was doing The Playboy of the Western World at the Irish Rep Theatre in New York, down in Chelsea. And one of the lines that Christy, the young man in it, and I was playing Pegeen, his lover, says, "You have a power of rings, God bless you," meaning her hand is full of all these rings, tin rings, nothing fancy. And just before he said the lines, maybe about four or five lines, I'm going, "Oh my God, I don't have the rings on. It's my brain."

Derdriu Ring:
And this is the other thing that's really strange about acting where it's really funny, you're in the moment, but you're always aware of what's coming. So I realized I don't have it. Now I have to stay in the moment, but I don't have it. So I'm desperately ... It was set in a shebeen and I'm at the bar and I'm putting my hand under the shebeen going, "What can I put on my fingers?" There's nothing. I found a pen. So under the counter, as he's talking to me, I'm drawing rings onto my fingers.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh my goodness.

Derdriu Ring:
Yep. I'm drawing rings onto my ... So by the time I got up, there was like very scribbly lines on my finger. And thankfully the other actor, Dara, did not laugh because he really should have considering the aberration that he saw on my hand. So that's one.

Annmarie Kelly:
Have you ever had a line that's missed and you realize if the audience doesn't get that line that was missed, nothing's going to make sense later? So you got to go back and pick it up even though it's really not ... I don't know, have you ever had lines be goofy?

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah, all the time. All the time. I was in a show with an actor who shall remain nameless, who skipped the entire ... it was really the exposition. And so about halfway through the exposition, he skipped to the middle of the play, and oh no, no, no, no, no, no. We can't have this, we can't have this. So I had to improvise lines to get that person back to where we needed to be. And they kept looking at me like, "What? What are you talking about?" They just kept going. I'm like, "No, no, don't you remember? Do you remember when this happened?"

Annmarie Kelly:
You brought up memory. Do you notice a difference in learning lines as a 19 year old and learning lines as ... I think you're 29 now.

Derdriu Ring:
Yes. Yes.

Annmarie Kelly:
So in the 10 years since, do you notice any difference as a slightly older adult?

Derdriu Ring:
Yes. We're both very young artists, Annmarie. Yes, of course I do. I was Googling when I did a one person show a few years ago, it was a brilliant play by Eric Coble who's a local Cleveland writer, but it was really difficult to learn. And I remember Googling months beforehand, how can I learn lines, as if I'd forgotten. And one of the things was blueberry juice. So I literally drank blueberry juice every day because the guys who train for Jeopardy!, one guy who trains for Jeopardy! had said that he absorbs an awful lot of information before the show, lots of facts and he goes on a steady diet of blueberry juice.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh my goodness.

Derdriu Ring:
It did help, by the way. It did help. But yes, it's much harder and I have to break it down and I have to chunk it and I have to ask for help. I have some fabulous friends who walk me through the lines and they witness my Tourettes, F'ing and blinding every 10 minutes because I can't remember the line. It's just, it's very ugly. My line learning is very ugly.

Annmarie Kelly:
But that always gets learned, it just takes a little longer?

Derdriu Ring:
Very long. It takes a long time, a long time. Yeah, it takes a full of four weeks for me to learn those lines. Yeah.

Annmarie Kelly:
I always think of acting as being a solo job, but the way that you're describing it, both with the ensemble and the giving and the taking, and the front of the house and the back of the house, and the folks who come to your aid and come to your rescue and come to help you learn these things, that's giving me a different picture of what it means to be an actor.

Derdriu Ring:
Right. Yeah, it takes a village. And the people that rarely get the credit really are the people in the back of the house, are the beautiful set designers, the costume designers. The director usually gets credit and the stage managers. Stage managers are so important too. They're very valuable and they're great for feedback once the director leaves. If the show is getting slow or whatever their job is to let you know, you know what? You need to pick it up. But yeah, it really does take a village and it's a very collaborative art form.

Annmarie Kelly:
So then how difficult has it been these past, oh my goodness, 18 months to be a performer when so much has been closed?

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah, it was tough. It was tough, there's no question. But I think everyone went through it. I mean, we're not alone in that. Apart from essential workers, everyone went through the same thing, but it really questioned. And you know what's interesting is I've heard a lot of people have not gone back to acting is what I'm hearing. Quite a few people, especially New York actors, they just changed the course of their lives. And I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing. I just think people questioned what they do in a very profound way during COVID that perhaps they didn't have the time to do because you know the way you're on that treadmill or the hamster wheel and you keep going, you keep going, doing what you do and you don't stop to think. And I think some people got to do that and just changed course.

Annmarie Kelly:
No, I think COVID made everyone, whether you wanted to or not, take a look at your priorities, take a look at what you love, take a look at what you fear. I think also one of the ways that you and I became close during this past year or two is that we both suffered losses in our family. My dad passed away and your brother passed away and I'm heartbroken about both of those things. And I remember a distinct moment, and I couldn't actually tell you the day or the month, but I can tell you what it felt like to sit there with you side by side, in our grief and laughing and crying together about these people we loved and lost in a time when many people were loving and losing. So if you don't mind, I don't mean to put you on the spot, but I'm wondering, will you tell us about your brother?

Derdriu Ring:
Oh. Well, I do remember that moment as well, Annmarie, and I'm forever grateful that you came to our house with as usual, tons of food and joy and friendship and tears. I wish every friend would do that for their friends. When you're going through grief, it's such a lonely place to be because a lot of the time, people, they don't see it because we hide it, we hide our grief. It was devastating, I lost my best friend. I'm probably going to start crying now, but I did, I lost my best friend. Diarmaid and I were very, very close.

Derdriu Ring:
He struggled his entire life with depression. And from the age of 16, when he had a nervous breakdown, he struggled. And we were very close and COVID was very, very, very hard on him. And he was actually coming over to visit us last summer, but everything was canceled. So his flight was canceled. He was an amazing advocate for people. He started many organizations to help people as he was like a peer counselor for students at University College Cork. He also went to the same college. He was a librarian, loved books, loved reading, loved writing, loved Joan Baez. Oh my gosh, did he love her. I mean, to the point where we're going, if we have to listen to one more Joan Baez song, I'm going to lose it.

Annmarie Kelly:
The answer is blowing in the wind, be quiet.

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah. Forever Young, we played that at his funeral, but I'll tell you it was heartbreaking because we didn't get to go to his funeral because of the restrictions that the government had in Ireland. And so we couldn't fly. So my brother who's here, my brother, Brendan and I had to watch my brother's wake in our house on WhatsApp. Then we watched his funeral on YouTube. We watched his burial on YouTube and I cannot recommend that, however, I am grateful that we were able to do that. I still think I haven't quite recovered from that experience because I don't know if I ever will. It was absolutely surreal. But man, I miss him. I miss him every day. I just miss him every day. We're going to go home this Christmas and we're going to try and remember him together as a family, because we were really robbed of that.

Derdriu Ring:
We're still waiting on autopsy results and they suspect that it was an accidental overdose, but honestly I think it was COVID killed him, the isolation killed him. And it makes me very angry that people were allowed or told to stay in their homes, especially people who needed people, they needed human contact on a daily basis, which my brother needed. He was a very social being and he just went in on himself. But the truth shall be revealed about that. But yeah, it's just heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking and I'll never recover from it.

Annmarie Kelly:
Do you still hear his voice?

Derdriu Ring:
I hear his laughter. He had a great laugh. He had like the best burst out, laughing, laugh.

Annmarie Kelly:
I have a photograph that you shared with me of him laying in the wild flowers. I never had the good fortune to meet your brother, but that's how I will remember him, his laying in the wild flowers.

Derdriu Ring:
That's totally him. Yeah.

Annmarie Kelly:
You talking about the funeral makes me think about how much ... I mean, my dad was John Paul Kelly, one of 10 children, the Irish Kelly's and growing up, what it meant to grieve was we grieve collectively, right?

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah.

Annmarie Kelly:
You went to a funeral, you drank, you laughed, you cried, but it was absolutely a collective experience. And I was able to attend my dad's funeral, but not everyone was, we only had 10 of us there. My husband could not come. My children could not come. So I had to stand there alone with my sister and my brother and we couldn't have our spouses there. My dad had nine siblings, but in order for them all to come, that would've meant we couldn't come. I do feel robbed of just the chance to laugh and cry, to hold one another and remember those preposterous stories that you only remember when you're in the middle of grief, and the day I got caught sneaking out with a boy and my dad hit me on the shoulder with an umbrella.

Derdriu Ring:
I could never imagine you doing that Annmarie, ever, you're such a good girl.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh. Or the way you could always tell he was coming because he whistled, and so you'd hear him. He could whistle the entire Beatles catalog. And so you'd hear him before you'd see him, just whistling. I can't whistle, but one note. And just little details like that, that I wanted to ... I'm glad you guys are going to get together this Christmas and do that. I think that's so important to keep the memory of that person alive.

Derdriu Ring:
Oh, it's so important. Yeah.

Annmarie Kelly:
I'll never forget this. You sent me, it was called A Train For You.

Derdriu Ring:
Yes.

Annmarie Kelly:
I want to say Finegan ... I want to say, is it Kruckemeyer?

Derdriu Ring:
Finegan Kruckemeyer.

Annmarie Kelly:
Kruckemeyer?

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah.

Annmarie Kelly:
You sent me this and I cried on my bathroom floor. I melted into a puddle. I'll link to it on the show notes, but it was described as this simple allegorical offering that you hand to a loved one when you don't know the words to say. And I will forever pass this along and pay it forward. It was just about this train that we board when we're in grief that comes for you and you don't have to call it and you'll never be late and you don't have to worry about what to wear or what to say. But there are people who are with you and you're on that journey for as long as you need to be. And I've been surprised by the fellowship and the communities of people who ...

Annmarie Kelly:
I've found that the love that you have for your brother or your father, it doesn't go anywhere. It's always. It's in your pockets and it's on your heart sleeve and it comes up when you hear someone whistling the Beatles or when you see someone laying in the wild flowers or laughing that they're always with you. And that really brought it to mind when you gave me that.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh my goodness, I could talk about the people we love forever. But I suppose that there are other things too, that my dad would be like, "Come on now, move it along."

Derdriu Ring:
Was it raining? Was it raining, Annmarie?

Annmarie Kelly:
It was a light snow.

Derdriu Ring:
Oh no.

Annmarie Kelly:
And I had a cheese sandwich.

Derdriu Ring:
No, God no, we're in trouble now.

Annmarie Kelly:
I love this. Hey, so what's a role that you've never gotten to play, but it's waiting in the wings for you or you're waiting in the wings for it?

Derdriu Ring:
Well, I'm way too young yet, but I would eventually love to do Long Day's Journey Into Night, Mary, I would love that role. I played the maid in it many years ago with Ellen Burstyn playing that role and she was off the charts. But it was really special. It was a special production and we got to visit O'Neill's house. And I've done a few O'Neill's, I just love him. I love him. Talk about great storytelling.

Annmarie Kelly:
Hey, I know you teach young people. We're both teachers.

Derdriu Ring:
I do. I love young people.

Annmarie Kelly:
The vast majority of them will probably not go on to professional theater careers just based on the numbers. So given that, what do you hope they gain from a theater class?

Derdriu Ring:
A sense of themselves, their own voice, ownership of their own voice, as opposed to who they think they should sound like. Really taking ownership of themselves and not being afraid to express themselves and less judgment of themselves and the ability to listen and the ability to empathize.

Annmarie Kelly:
I don't think I got any of those gifts in any of my classes growing up. I would have [inaudible 00:33:59].

Derdriu Ring:
One can only hope. This is just a hope. You asked me, what do you hope?

Annmarie Kelly:
That's wonderful. I mean ...

Derdriu Ring:
What do you hope, Annmarie for your students? I'm so envious of your students, the lucky ducks.

Annmarie Kelly:
Yeah. I hope to give them understanding too, that you can try something really hard and it doesn't always go well, but you tried that hard thing and we'll work back and forth to make it better. I teach writing and very little of my writing is any good the first draft. You just keep going back and forth. You keep asking questions, you keep nudging it. You keep hanging out in what you wonder and what you're curious about and the words come, they get there. But I love working with young people, I think it keeps me young. It makes me feel old some days, but keeps me young most days.

Derdriu Ring:
I told my students this week that I would bring them donuts. I probably am. I'm not supposed to do that. But anyway, I'm going to bring them donuts on one condition that they behave like five year olds next week and are very badly behaved. Now they're 17 and 18 year olds. Because they're so stressed out. These are the final years for these kids, they're so stressed out and they're not having fun a lot of the time. I want you to have fun.

Annmarie Kelly:
I had a workshop at the Folger Shakespeare Library one summer with, I want to say, Caleen Jennings. I will look up her name. But she had us all behave like barnyard animals. We were the pigs. We were barnyard animals. At one point there was a snake at the farm and we were slithering. And then she had us get up and deliver our monologues from a Winter's Tale. And I was like, "Wait, I'm not ready." And she's like, "No, you're exactly ready. You're exactly where you need to be."

Derdriu Ring:
You've got out of your head, your head isn't making the decisions anymore, right? You're speaking from your gut. No, absolutely, it's so important.

Annmarie Kelly:
Okay. So we always close with introductions here. It makes sense to me, so hopefully it will make sense to you. I always ask a few multiple choice and short answers. There will be no points awarded, so you're not being graded. So just answer-

Derdriu Ring:
Oh no, I want a gold star.

Annmarie Kelly:
... whichever. Yes. Gold star's all around.

Derdriu Ring:
Okay. Okay.

Annmarie Kelly:
All right. So the first one, dogs or cats?

Derdriu Ring:
Dogs.

Annmarie Kelly:
What's your dogs name again?

Derdriu Ring:
Falcon.

Annmarie Kelly:
That's right. I love Falcon.

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah. We all love Falcon.

Annmarie Kelly:
Coffee or tea?

Derdriu Ring:
Ooh, that's a hard one. Coffee.

Annmarie Kelly:
Really?

Derdriu Ring:
Yes.

Annmarie Kelly:
See, we've drunk both in the same sitting.

Derdriu Ring:
I know.

Annmarie Kelly:
So I wasn't sure what you would say on this.

Derdriu Ring:
Well, you said it's multiple choice. I have to choose, right? Or do I?

Annmarie Kelly:
Yeah.

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah, coffee then.

Annmarie Kelly:
Mountains or beach?

Derdriu Ring:
Oh, I love both. How can you have one without the other? Oh, that's a really hard question. I would say a mountainy beach.

Annmarie Kelly:
That seems like you're choosing both, but we'll allow it. Judges?

Derdriu Ring:
I said a mountainy beach.

Annmarie Kelly:
Judges? All right, they're going to allow it. Yes. Early bird or night owl?

Derdriu Ring:
Night owl.

Annmarie Kelly:
You haunt the house?

Derdriu Ring:
Yes.

Annmarie Kelly:
Yeah, me too. Are you a risk taker or the person who knows where the Band-Aids are?

Derdriu Ring:
Well, as a mother, I need to know where the Band-Aids are, but I'm a risk taker.

Annmarie Kelly:
Yes, I would think so. What's one of your go-to songs?

Derdriu Ring:
Meghan Trainor, I Feel Better When I'm Dancing.

Annmarie Kelly:
Nice. What's a movie or a book that you love? Or I suppose I should let you do play too. You could just do a play. Movie, book or play.

Derdriu Ring:
Oh, movie, book or play? Okay. See now, you've thrown me another loop de loop. Okay. Play. Let's see, a play that I go back to read again and again. I would say Hamlet. All About Eve, movie.

Annmarie Kelly:
All About Eve, I have not seen that in years.

Derdriu Ring:
It's so good. It's so good.

Annmarie Kelly:
I found it terrifying when I saw it. I wonder what I would think of it now?

Derdriu Ring:
It is terrifying. It's still terrifying. It's great.

Annmarie Kelly:
What's your favorite ice cream?

Derdriu Ring:
I'm really boring. I just love ... Okay, in Ireland, we have a thing called the 99 ice cream cone, which is basically a cone. And it's like, you get custard on top, but it's dairy ice cream that you twirl around and then you stick a Cadbury's Flake in there's that's chocolate and flakey and you can sprinkle it all over the vanilla ice cream. And when our kids go to Ireland, the first place we have to visit is Banks in Cahersiveen for a 99. It's in our DNA now, it's been passed down to my children. I love 99s.

Annmarie Kelly:
I have never heard of that before.

Derdriu Ring:
When you go to Ireland, Annmarie, you will see them everywhere. There's literally signs outside of every store, 99s, 99s. And I don't know why they're called 99s.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh, were they 99 cents?

Derdriu Ring:
No, they weren't, because we used to have them in our store growing up. My parents had a grocery store and we used to serve 99s and they were 50 P. So no, I don't think that was the reason. So who knows.

Annmarie Kelly:
All right. When you go back, you can find out and then you can let me know.

Derdriu Ring:
I will.

Annmarie Kelly:
Last one, if we were to take a picture of you joyful and doing something you love, what would we see you doing?

Derdriu Ring:
Swimming in the ocean with my family.

Annmarie Kelly:
That's a great image. I hope you guys get to do that when ... Well, Christmas?

Derdriu Ring:
Oh, we're doing the Christmas swim. It's going to be 40 degrees. No, we're doing it. We're doing it. Yeah, my husband has said absolutely not. And the kids, he said absolutely not, they're going absolutely, yes, you're doing it. It's for charity. So we're all going for our Christmas swim on Christmas Day.

Annmarie Kelly:
That's excellent. I look forward to hearing how that goes.

Derdriu Ring:
I'll send photographs of the blue faces coming out of the water.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh my gosh. Well, Derdriu Ring, thank you for being here. Thank you for talking about voice. And I'm thinking a lot about what it means to find a sense of ourselves, both in a theater class, but also out in the world. I have watched you in countless shows. We've walked dogs and raised children, we're both the mothers of Henry's.

Derdriu Ring:
Yes we are.

Annmarie Kelly:
But thank you for letting me keep getting to know you and opening your heart to this conversation. It could be easy to get in holding patterns I think with our friends, to take them for granted and to forget to tell them that they're wonderful. So I think you're wonderful. You're a wonderful actor.

Derdriu Ring:
Oh my gosh.

Annmarie Kelly:
And you're a wonderful friend.

Derdriu Ring:
Well, you know how I think you're amazing. I think let's just love on each other for a bit here, Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh, but thank you. It's an absolute honor to be on your show because I love your show and I'm so proud of you because this is a great, great, great place to come and have a conversation, although, I'd rather you come to my house. So come on over.

Annmarie Kelly:
We'll do that. Or we should go to New York City because I think I would just ... I don't think you and I have ever watched a play together. I just think that would be amazing to ... I'll buy the tickets and I'll drive you there and you pick the show because I will just-

Derdriu Ring:
Oh my gosh. It's on. It's on.

Annmarie Kelly:
I will pick the wrong one and I'll just go and-

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah, I'll pick one, like way downtown somewhere or somewhere in Brooklyn.

Annmarie Kelly:
Yes.

Derdriu Ring:
That's not even listed on what's on in New York and we'll go see one of those because those are always the best anyway.

Annmarie Kelly:
I love it. It's a date.

Derdriu Ring:
Yeah. Okay, great.

Annmarie Kelly:
Well, until then, I am thankful for your blithe spirit and your fierce principles and your open and loving heart. And thanks for inspiring me and all of us to find our voices and get a sense of ourselves. So to folks who are listening out there, this has been Derdriu Ring. We'll link to her work on our show notes page. And I'm wishing everyone else love and light. Be good to yourselves and one another. And we'll see you again on this wild and precious journey.

Annmarie Kelly:
Wild Precious Life is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. Special thanks to executive producers, Gerardo Orlando and Michael DeAloia, producer, Sarah Willgrube, and audio engineer, Eric Koltnow. Be sure to subscribe and follow us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

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