20 Questions: Carson and the Lady director Colm G Doran on never getting enough sleep and why life is too short for diets…

1 UP And that’s it, what’s your morning routine?

A routine is practically non-existent. My brain is usually in ‘full gear’ until the wee hours of the morning, as that’s when I have ideas for new writing or how to solve problems within projects I’m working on, so I sleep into the wee hours of the morning whenever Can I.

2 What might you eat on a typical work day to…

Breakfast? Breakfast is usually sacrificed for an extra half hour in bed. If I do eat at this time, it will be cereal and fruit with plain yogurt.

Lunch? Leftovers from last night’s dinner often pass for lunch or a sandwich. Right now, the cast of Carson and the Lady are obsessed with a beautiful Thai place right next to our rehearsal venue, Banh Boy, so we often order something delicious there. A boring sandwich just can’t compete.

Dinner? This will most likely be a carb-heavy comfort food: something like a curry or pasta dish works well, though a roast could also be included. For now, though, fresh salads have become a staple in the heat of summer.

3 Is nutrition important to you? Do you take health supplements?

Yes, my health is important to me and that goes beyond nutrition. When it comes to food, I try to include a lot of fruits and vegetables in my diet, but my sweet tooth is always there.

4 Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did she do?

I have been on a diet many, many, many times. I’ve had great success, but over time I usually go back to my standard weight and shape. I intend to let my body do its thing for now: life is too short.

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5 Weekend deal?

A few gins and Chinese takeout.

6 How do you stay physically and mentally fit?

I walk as much as I can, usually on the beach near my house in Kilkeel. My dad is crazy about frisbee and bocce if the weather is nice, so he usually challenges me to a game outside. Mental fitness for me is about finding time in the day to just ‘unplug’. If I’m at home, I’m chilling on the couch, but on a trip it’s usually a podcast or audiobook. I think it is very important to disconnect.

7 The best advice to exercise every day?

Drink more water.

8 Were you a fan of PE/school sports or do you have a memory of those days you’d rather forget?

I think I must have set the world record for forgetting my PE kit. I was a danger for any sporting activity. I eventually convinced the school to let me pass PE class in the art room or library, a safer move for everyone involved.

9 Teetotal or Drink?

I don’t drink during the week, but I do have a few glasses of wine or gin (depending on what I’m eating) with friends, most weekends.

10 Stairs or elevator?

Stairs when they are five flights or less, otherwise the elevator to the end, please. Who has the time?

11 What book are you currently reading?

During the day I listen to Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert on my travels to our rehearsals in Antrim and at night I read Miriam Margolyes’ autobiography This Much is True.

12 Best Netflix?

Russian doll: amazing show. It’s a really interesting concept and Natasha Lyonne is amazing.

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13 The most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?

How much I overworked myself before the pandemic, saying ‘yes’ to every project and never worrying about how it all might fit together. Now, I am more careful about what I commit to and much more valuable with my time and mindful of a good work/life balance.

14 Any new skills or hobbies?

I completed a Couch to 5K event, but when the world started to open up again, I quickly lost the habit.

15 How do you relax?

Some ‘binge’ on TV or a night out with good friends.

16 What are your goals for 2022?

Keep moving forward, but at my own pace.

17 What time do you go to bed and do you think you sleep enough?

I rarely fall asleep before midnight and I can never get enough sleep.

18 Biggest Complaint?

The chronic underfunding/undervaluing of artists and the impact art has here.

19 Have your priorities in life or your perspectives changed?

I appreciate the time I spend with my loved ones more now that we can be together again. I also think I’ve learned to try to enjoy what’s happening in the here and now, instead of always looking for the next good thing.

20 Has the coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I lost two close family members during the pandemic, not because of Covid, but those kinds of profound losses force you to consider your own mortality and not take anything for granted. It sounds cliche to say it, but life as you know it can really change in a second, so if you’re doing well right now, you better enjoy it.

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:: Colm G Doran is the director of Carson and the Lady, currently on view at the Theater at the Mill, Newtownabbey, until Sunday 7th August. Based on real-life events between 1914 and 1921, the production focuses on the pioneering Irish society woman, Lady Jean Massereene.