An Interview With The Magnificent, Maggi McKenna – Actress, Storyteller, Stand-Up Comic And Writer

Maggi the Storyteller

Maggi McKenna is a friend, a member of Longford Writers group and so many other things. To meet Maggi is to meet a force of nature. I will let Maggi introduce herself and her talents to you. Welcome to Maggi’s world…

  1. Tell me about where you are from and your life/career up until now.

My name is, Maggi McKenna, I am from St Mels Rd in Longford. I am an only child, daughter to Annie and Oliver McKenna R.I.P. My career to date has mainly been in retail sales and management, with five years working as information officer with Longford Citizens’ Information.

2. How did you get into storytelling and acting?

I came to storytelling in an unusual way; I was feeling quite isolated after returning to Longford after a change in jobs. It was then that my cousin, Sally Martin invited me to join Longford Writers Group, I was hesitant as I had never considered anything like this before; however, I had no idea where that first evening would lead to. Soon after joining, our chairperson, Eileen, asked me if I would be interested in reading stories for children in Longford Library. A meeting with, Mary Carleton, Longford County Librarian followed, and this is where Maggi the Storyteller began her journey. I designed a coat to wear while reading the books at various libraries and schools, also festivals and creches. I found such joy and happiness being surrounded by happy smiling children, watching their faces light up as I read to them. It was, and still is the best anti-depressant in the world.

Maggi the Storyteller, who read extracts from my book, ‘Hattie and Jacques Love London’, at the launch of the book 4 years ago. In the middle is, Jason Silva aka Stephen Ribeiro, the illustrator of the book. Photo by Sally Martin
Maggi the Storyteller, at a session in Longford library
Getting ready for a Halloween story-telling session
Playing Mrs Claus at Christmas

I then decided to try something a little braver… I read that Backstage Theatre Group were doing readings for a spring production and that there was a part for a narrator, which I felt I could try. Again, it was not what I expected, as the plays had been changed and I ended up reading for a play set in Dublin, I was shell-shocked to get a phone call the following day to say I had got the part of, Ciara,a loud mouthed Dub (A person from Dublin). I was to tread the boards in the, Backstage Theatre, Longford, in six short weeks… EEEEEK! …Fast forward to opening night and the feelings of extreme panic and pre-curtain nerves… I still didn’t quite believe I was going out on stage WITHOUT A SCRIPT; but with huge thanks to, Mary Killane, my partner in crime on stage, and the excellent director, Pat Joe Mcloughlin, who placed his faith in me, we did it. We also relished the standing ovation, and I knew I had found something that I truly loved.

Getting ready to go on stage
Acting the part

3. What do you enjoy about storytelling and acting?

 What do I enjoy about acting and storytelling? Hmmmm, it would be easier to say what I don’t enjoy, the pre-show nerves….simple as that, everything else I thoroughly enjoy, in fact so much so, that I decided to return to college and study Performing Arts and Theatre Studies in Dublin. I am happy to say, that I graduated with distinction last September; so in three short years I have completed six stage performances, four short films, stand-up comedy in various venues and a summer school in The Gaiety School of Acting… so I guess you could say I enjoy it, lol!

Taking part in a college reenactment at the Dun Laoghaire Festival .
Graduation Day

4. What have your writing achievements been, and where would you like to go with your writing?

My writing achievements include having my work published with, Longford Writers Group, as part of our novella entitled, ‘Let him Lie’, and also as part of our anthology entitled, ‘Home Made’. I also had a story published in the children’s anthology, ‘Quirky Tales’, put together by the Midlands Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Group. I also love to write poetry and have a couple of short plays written. Future plans include publishing a book of short stories and poetry. I also hope to expand on my writing to include my own one woman show… Watch this space!

Reading her story from the, ‘Quirky Tales’, anthology launch. Photo by Annette Corkery

5. You have recently moved… What are your ambitions and plans for the future?

I have recently decided to move to what I can only describe as a fairy tale city; York in the U.K. is unbelievably beautiful and steeped in history, with tiny streets and buildings dating back over hundreds of years, and of course all this is under the watchful eye of the famous and majestic York Minster Cathedral. My move here is to expand my writing and acting career and hopefully entertain the good folk of York and further afield. I will end this with a huge thanks to my cousin, Sally Martin; without her invite to join Longford Writers Group and all its wonderfully supportive members, none of this would have happened. As I always say, “Onwards and Upwards!”

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