The flair q&A

Noni Stapleton

Creative, inventive, hilarious. Glamorous, illustrious, goofy. A powerhouse of presence. The adjectives just don't stop, much like her boundless talent. A true Irish lass with lasting impact wherever she goes, this actor, writer, producer is Noni Stapleton!

Tell me about your business or specialty.

I’m an Actor with some playwriting thrown in for good measure.

How'd you get to where you are now?

Well…how long have you got? There’s the chronological answer…but meh! Really, I think the creative path is a mish-mash of dreams & drive, trust, luck, talent, hard work, just showing up again and again and courage. Gathering around you impossibly marvelous friends and colleagues who cheer for you - LOUDLY. The ones who have your back through adversity and who celebrate your successes wholeheartedly, as if they were their own. And, in turn, your heart soars when they flourish. Then you’re a part of something important, something that is actually just as important as the art. It is the ART really.

What surprises you in your work, now or in the past?

I am continually surprised by how I haven’t got a clue. :-D There’s always a new avenue to explore in a character. That even happened for one of my own plays, Charolais. I mean I wrote it!!! Yet still both in rehearsals and even now nine years on, when I perform it I discover new thoughts in there. Mad. Maybe what I am saying is the act of acting is the surprise...or should be.

How did the Covid crisis affect your work or business? Any new ideas or approaches…or lessons learned?

Oh Lordy, Covid. Not to underplay the awfulness and isolation and financial crises that freelancers in the arts went through. But what stands out for me is our resiliency and AND the world turns to her artists in times of crisis. I think art and living artfully got an awful lot of people through. Be it binging a brilliant show on TV or growing strawberries or zoom play readings or painting by numbers or learning the flute. I hope we don’t forget that art gave us back some sanity in that mad time.

What drives you crazy?

Heh heeee!!!

- Gobshites! (translation: basically, idiots!)

- My crap window blinds drive me crazy, they are clearly haunted (those blinds are the cause of my almost flashing my neighbors on a daily basis).

- Mean spiritedness.

- Being blamed or accused in the wrong (like, I will fess up and own my mistakes but I have a pathological hatred of being blamed in the wrong).

- Being stuck in soul witheringly, boring conversations.

- People eating food while talking to me on the phone. I have a touch of synesthesia, so loud noises when I am trying to think or talk make me freeze.

- Certain textures, blergh!

Who inspires you? (it can be anybody you know, or don't know)

My beautiful friend Melanie Clarke Pullen, no longer with us on this plane of existence. She was as soulful and straight up a person as you could meet. I loved her so much. An extraordinarily gifted actor and hugely talented writer, her mission was to amplify female voices and encourage creativity. Her greatest gift I think was her humanity. We were each others touchstone. Her take on whatever was troubling me could just strip away the bullshit and with utter kindness allow me to see what was really important to me. I miss her dearly, she was just so much fun. We fanned each others flame too, you know? The name of her her blog Strut and Bellow said it all. Strut and Bellow for yourself and your people. I am so lucky to have many many magic pals who, like Melanie, keep the fires burning bright.

Any other interests or pursuits?

In true Sagittarius fashion, I am a Jack of all trades - master of none! I get a rush of enthusiasm for loads of random activities and dip a toe in for a while. Like tap dance, I started learning that at 25 years old, did a professional tap show maybe six years later but I haven't donned the taps for years. Or Running. I took that up in 2009, a few months later I did a 10K then, yup, you guessed it - I promptly stopped running. I used to make tiny felt baby slippers. Now they were very cute, I even sold them at market stalls and called them nonibears. If you own a pair, they are discontinued so now potentially collectors items - hahaha!

Currently I am: Learning Arabic on Duolingo (though I've stuck at that for about two years), LOVE IT. I make ceramic dishes and crafty bits and pieces. I just give them away or display the ones I really like. Last Christmas, I made heaps of clay tree decorations and give them to the cast and crew of the soap opera I'm in. I like getting lost for hours painting them. I started weight lifting last year. Mad for that, until I injured myself but I'll go back to it soon. If you could just call me Noni "Romanian Dead Lift" Stapleton from now on, please. I play the Ukulele and Piano on and off still just for fun. I stopped learning piano at grade 7. Sure, why would you bother doing grade 8 and the teaching diploma when you've come that far like! Oh I suppose one thing I do really cherish is my voice training. I have worked with Roy Hart Voice teachers and Fitzmaurice Voice teachers over the years. Exploring the voice is an ever present passion. Only last year I travelled back to The Roy Hart Centre in France with another inspiring actor friend of mine, Fiona Browne. We spent a week working with our exceptional teachers there - old and new. It was pretty special and I realized that I do this work, just naturally, every day. And not only because I am an actor. To me it's just part of being human

You're a trailblazer(s) - what are some career highlights to date?

I’ve done lots of theatre shows but the ones that stand out are always the random ones where the cast all had the craic and were just delighted with each other. They’re always my favorite. Speaking of which….The Good Father, of course, with Tangent Theatre (your theatre company!). Honestly, one of the most artistically satisfying and happiest times of my life.

- Charolais, my show about one woman’s intense rivalry with a Charolais heifer. That old cow has taken me all over the world. I never tire of seeing people from all walks of life connect with that character and my writing. My great friend Bairbre Ni Chaoimh directed and developed it with me - another joyful gig from start to finish.

- Penny Dreadful, which ran for three seasons on Showtime (it’s the craic playing 007’s wife, I worked alongside Timothy Dalton!). It’s a great series penned by John Logan, and worth a look if you’ve not seen it - but not if you’re squeamish.

- Harry Wild, from Acorn TV (and other streaming services). I got to play opposite the inimitable Jane Seymour who, by the way, is a pure GEM. She is the epitome of celebrating and supporting other artists. My goodness does that woman walk the walk. Love her!

- I had a small role in a film called Reawakening where I worked with Jared Harris. That was a bit of a “Pinch me!”

- I have a great new TV series coming out on HULU in October called Obituary. The writing is brilliant and I got to play a very interesting police woman called Garda Rose. I can say no more except that I’m very excited about this one!

Words of wisdom or thoughts?

Play well, be kind, laugh loudly, love as much as you can, really listen, don’t be too hard on yourself and adopt cats.


Noni Stapleton was born in Cork, Ireland. She trained at The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, and is an Irish Theatre Institute, Six in the Attic alumnus. Theatre highlights include The Abbey Theatre’s Home Part I, The Odd Couple (Everyman Cork), The Noble Call (DRTTC), Lizzy Lavelle and the Vanishing of Emlyclough (Performance Corporation), The Good Father (Tangent Theatre Company, Tivoli NY), The Laramie Project (AboutFACE Ireland), What The Dead Want and Massacre @ Paris (Bedrock), Little Victories (Barnstorm), Footnotes Tap Show (Tapestry) and Tóríacht an Yummy Mummy (An Taibhdhearc). Recent screen roles include two seasons guest starring as Gladys Murray in Sky Atlantic’s Penny Dreadful, and Hawkeyes in Cathy Brady’s feature Wildfire. Other TV and FILM credits include Inspector Jury, Vikings, Ripper Street, Quirke, The Clinic, The Tudors, Fair City and Tina Times Two (RTE Jr). As a Writer/Performer, her one-woman show Charolais won the Stewart Parker Award (an annual Irish award for best Irish debut play), the Little Gem Award from Bewley's Café Theatre/Dublin and Best Monologue Bouquet (Edinburgh Fringe Festival). A Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist, it was directed and developed by Bairbre Ní Chaoimh and published by London-based Bloomsbury Publishing. She co-wrote One For Sorrow and Two For A Girl, (Jayne Snowe Award nominee, published by Stinging Fly) - both plays were directed and dramaturged by Maureen White. Noni lives in Dublin and performs in Europe, the U.S. and well beyond.

(published 2023)