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Rosaleen Corrigan - a Reflection

Una Culkin, a member of the 1983 Dominican College production of Guys and Dolls, provides this reflection on Mrs Corrigan.

'You're never JUST in the chorus'

1983 - the year the first compact disc was marketed in the UK; seat belts became mandatory, and while Margaret Thatcher had just won another landslide victory, a new MP by the name of Tony Blair had just been elected.
And Rosaleen Corrigan was beginning the task of transforming a group of Dominicans, gathered from fourth year to upper sixth, into Salvation Army members, crap shooters, glamorous ladies and nightclub dancers - no mean feat in an era of shoulder pads, back-combed hair and leg warmers.

As fourth years, we were beyond excited at being allowed to be part of a DCP show for the very first time and what a cool show to be part of. Even the boys were impressed - sharp dressed, gamblers, men about town? Yes, they were up for that!
And for a 15-year-old musicals-obsessed day girl from Portrush like me, the excitement was almost too much to bear.

But the chances of a lead part were not for little fourth years, we were happy to be "just in the chorus"
.
STOP RIGHT THERE

Of all the things I learned about stagecraft from Rosaleen Corrigan over the years, the main one was that there is no such thing as "just" being in the chorus.
Producing a stage show is one of the best examples of teamwork that any young person can be exposed to.

Yes, any show needs its principals and each person has to take personal responsibility for their task but the show doesn't go on without costumes, lights, musicians, dancers, singers, runners, props people,make up team, ticket sellers, programme compilers, the chorus.

And of course, the director.
1983 was the first time I was lucky enough to work with Rosaleen as a director but I would go on to join Portrush Music Society in the early 1990s and work with her right up until the mid 2010s when she stepped down as Director for them.

Whether on the stage of DCP assembly hall or the stage of the Riverside Theatre, I watched Rosaleen stage manage, cajole, persuade, command, direct, reassure, choreograph, discipline, prepare and educate many, many casts of people from many, many diverse backgrounds, interests and talents...and never once raise her voice.

Rosaleen simply guided you gently with a touch to the elbow, a slight tilt of the stance or a quiet wink when she was happy with the result.
She taught me about dressing the stage, never standing with your arms folded unless the character demanded it, projecting your voice (before the days of individual mics) and how you can always, ALWAYS be seen on a stage.

She taught me that when you create a piece of theatre on a stage for an audience, you create a little bit of magic behind that fourth wall.
She taught me about teamwork and she taught me that you are never, ever JUST in the chorus.

Thank you, Rosaleen.