When Christiane O’Mahony was a child she says she can’t ever remember going through what she would describe as “a shy phase.” Perhaps it is no surprise then that she ended up working in theatre and is now a very successful award-winning stand-up comedian turned writer.
Her latest one-women play, called 'Seahorse' for which she both wrote the script and starred as a solo performer, won the universal approval of critics when it played at the Project Arts Centre Cube space in Dublin last September and was described in an Irish Times review as being “at its best when at its funniest.”
It’s a long way from the family home in Ross Road, Screggan where Christiane grew up as the only daughter of well-known Tullamore dentist, John O’Mahony and his wife, Bernadette, who is a psychotherapist. “My parents enrolled myself and my brothers in just about everything when we were kids, so I did drama in Scoil Mhuire, singing, piano, ballet and loads of other things, and my mother always used to get us to sing and play music for visitors and of course I loved every minute of it,” recalls Christiane.
Being “quite academically-minded” Christiane’s parents were anxious that she attend university, so she went to Trinity to pursue a degree in psychology, and she was very fortunate while there to win a scholarship to pursue a further three-year degree course in acting. “I thought to myself at the time ‘what a very lucky coincidence’ as my parents weren’t too anxious to see me going into acting, but when I had won a scholarship and my Degree course was all paid for there wasn’t much they could do about it,” laughs Christiane.
The determined Screggan woman also trained in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and says she has been on “a bit of a journey ever since” which has led her down “all sorts of interesting avenues” including performing as a stand-up comedian with her beloved harp in tow. “|I started taking harp lessons when I moved to Dublin, and I had this great idea that I would perform as a stand-up comedian with a harp,” she laughs “so you can only imagine what that was like, hauling a big harp around to a different venue every night to perform in my own stand-up comedy show,” says Christiane. It was while she was hauling her beloved harp into the Everyman Theatre in Cork where she was performing as a harpist/actor in the opera, 'Orpheus', that Christiane met her partner and soulmate, Brian Mitchell in 2013. The two later set up their own company 'For the Birds' in 2016 and have successfully produced and toured with a number of highly-acclaimed productions to date. Despite the fact that she had worked as a stand-up comedian alongside such luminaries as Tommy Tiernan and Des Bishop, appeared on the Chris Evans Show and won numerous awards for her comedy work, Christiane O’Mahony credits Brian with rekindling her love of “acting and the theatre.”
“Brian is involved in all facets of theatre production, and he has always been hugely supportive and hugely encouraging,” says Christiane, who adds that he believed in her right from the start of their relationship, and they make “a very good team.”
The first production that Brian and Christiane collaborated on (she as the scriptwriter and he as the lighting and set designer) was 'Sisters of the Rising' which debuted in the Everyman Theatre in Cork before going on a national tour which included a performance at Birr Theatre and Arts Centre.
The couple have also produced three short films, with the third one, 'Meiterhood', currently in post-production. Christiane is hoping to take their latest theatre production, 'Seahorse' on a national tour, and long-term she would like to get more involved in writing comedy drama for TV.
“I have just been awarded a bursary from Offaly County Council, who have been a great support to me, to attend the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for two weeks, and I am hoping to be able to concentrate on writing some comedy drama while I am there,” says Christiane.
In ten years time the dynamic and talented Tullamore woman would like to see herself with her own production company as she says making productions on your ownis “100 times harder” than having a team around. “Even though I am all alone on stage in 'Seahorse' I have an amazing team of around 10 people around me, and I would love to be in a position to have a team around me on a permanent basis and to be able to work collaboratively on different projects….that would be my dream,” she ends.