On Monday’s Arena, Seán Rocks spoke to a man who’s competed in the World Games, a man who’s a lip-sync champion, a man who has studied Anthropology and a man who packs bags in Tesco. But Seán wasn’t talking to four men, he was talking to one – Mark Smith. Mark is a drama practitioner with Down Syndrome and he joined Seán in studio with his long-time collaborator, Aisling Byrne, to talk about their show in the Dublin Fringe Festival, Making a Mark. The show, as the title suggests, has Mark’s life as its subject, as Aisling explained:
“It’s the twentieth anniversary of some majorly significant events in Mark’s life, from the loss of his father in 1999, to his silver medal at the World Games and it was also the year that he started working in Tesco. So, it was a very significant time in his life to begin ruminating on these things.”
Aisling told Seán that, in the 10 years she and Mark have known each other, Mark has always expressed himself through his art. And Mark isn’t just an actor, he’s also a song and dance man. He told Seán how he won the Lip Sync Battle in 2017 with Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal:
“I didn’t know this until I actually found out from Aisling. ‘Cause Aisling said to me, Mark I’m going to put you in the Lip Sync. I said, brilliant!”
Not only did Mark win the Lip Sync Battle, but he did it shortly after starring in what Aisling describes as a huge project, called Reason and Madness, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, in which Mark played the titular king. (He still remembers his lines, three years on.)
Mark and Aisling’s new show, Making a Mark, takes in the death of his father, his silver medal at the World Games in North Carolina, his studies and how he started working in Tesco, where he still works, nearly 20 years later. But that’s not the only job he has, as he told Seán:
“Actually, I have two part-time jobs and a full-time job. I’m still in Tesco… I work in the college as well, in Maynooth University. And as well as that, I passed Anthropology – all fourteen modules – and then after that I got a part-time job in 2012.”
He is a busy man. And, as he told Seán, “I’m very, very proud to do this show”. The show also addresses other aspects of Mark’s life, including his struggles with his weight and other challenges experienced by an adult with Down Syndrome in Ireland.
You can find more details of Making a Mark on fringefest.com.
And you can hear Seán’s full chat with Mark and Aisling, as well as the rest of Arena here:
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