Carving a ‘Ruddy’ successful career for himself

It goes without saying being an actor requires a level of versatility.
But for Letterkenny’s John D Ruddy, versatile is par for the course.
Having recently starred in the revival of Pat McCabe’s classic play, Frank Pig Says Hello, a production in which he takes on every single part bar one, John’s latest performance comes to the Alley this weekend with Manny Man Does the History of Ireland on Stage.
Created for Youtube, the character is best known for his unique take on Irish history. Short movies like Manny Man Does The History of Ireland, The Vietnam War in 13 Minutes and Manny Man – Wars and Revolutions have become global hits, amassing millions of views world-wide and drawing more than half a million subscribers to Ruddy’s own Youtube channel.
Born in Letterkenny’s Oldtown and schooled at St Eunan’s, John D Ruddy is the son of Dan Ruddy and the late Kathleen Ruddy, fondly remembered as a co-creator of the Rainbow Theatre.
Given Mrs Ruddy’s long association with the stage, it would seem natural that her son would follow her into the world of acting. Yet despite growing up in what he describes as an “environment of theatre and drama”, things could have panned out very differently.
“I trained originally as a primary school teacher in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra,” the 38-year-old said.
“But I came out of college in 2009 in the middle of a recession when there were no jobs available. So I started doing some amateur dramatics with the Letterkenny Theatre and Drama Group and I caught the bug from there really.”
Ruddy’s first role was in a production of The 39 Steps which toured Ireland
in 2012, after which he decided to pursue acting as a career.
He moved to Dublin where he quickly secured a role in The Rising, a two-man play telling the story of the 1916 Easter Rising. Behind the production was playwright Joe O’Byrne, a man who would become a close colleague and friend of Ruddy’s.
“I started working with Joe on several different projects and when it came to Frank Pig, he was the original director so it was a case of going back to the source,” he said.
Written in tandem with its literary counterpart, The Butcher Boy, Frank Pig has been described as “one of the saddest and funniest tales” ever brought to life on an Irish stage.
“Well I am teaching the world and I am still going into schools and doing
a bit of drama. So in that way I am keeping my foot in the door but I’m
very much about the arts and thank God, that is going well for me,” the actor added.
• You can catch John D Ruddy in Manny Man Does the History of Ireland
on on Saturday February 9 at the Alley Theatre.

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