Acclaimed play comes to the Hawk’s Well stage


A story of love, emigration and travel comes to the Hawk’s Well stage on September 24.

TRUE STORY: Sonya Kelly  in "How to Keep an Alien" produced by Rough Magic Theatre Company for Tiger Dublin Fringe running at the Hawk's Well Theatre on September 24. Photo by Anthony Woods.
TRUE STORY: Sonya Kelly in “How to Keep an Alien” produced by Rough Magic Theatre Company for Tiger Dublin Fringe running at the Hawk’s Well Theatre on September 24. Photo by Anthony Woods.

‘How to Keep an Alien: A story about falling in love and proving it to the government’ tells the autobiographical account of Sonya Kelly, who wrote the play and acts in it as well, about how she fell in love with Kate from Australia and the trials and tribulations the two face trying to get a visa for Kate.

“It is about getting my partner from Australia an Irish visa to come and live in Ireland. It tells the process we went through to secure that visa, such as proof of our relationship and handing all of that into the Department of Emigration.

“The show is about that journey, but it also about Kate’s ancestors who left Ireland to go on a boat to Queensland and the irony of someone, 150 years later, looking to get back here. In a sense it has an ironic twist,” Sonya said.

The show, since its debut, has struck a chord with audiences and critics alike. It was the winner of the Tiger award at the Dublin Fringe Festival, it also sold out in Brisbane in Australia, and when Sonya spoke to the Sligo Weekender, it had just finished a successful run at the Edinburgh festival.

“It has a resonance in the sense of how human beings have been going across the world in the last 150 years. I have had someone after nearly every show come up to me and tell me about their similar story and how they got through it. In that sense it certainly has a resonation globally,” Sonya commented.

Although the subject matter is heavy in the sense of emotion, and the story itself, it is tinged with great humour which Sonya hopes Sligo audiences will enjoy.

“It is great craic. It is a funny play which I would call a funny play with sad bits. There is so much to laugh at, and we laugh at the Irish and the Australians. There is one scene in particular in the Garda National Migration Bureau and you have a situation where gardaí are trying to announce names of people from Malaysia and do so with a Roscommon or Longford accent.”

For Sonya, it will be a return to Sligo and the Hawk’s Well where she brought her debut play ‘The Wheelchair on My Face’, which was well received. She enjoyed her time in Sligo and hopes for more of the same this time around.

“I brought my first show [to Sligo] in 2013 and I was also there many other times with Fish Amble (Theatre Company). It is really beautiful, and the audiences and people are lovely. As well as that the town is gorgeous and I love nipping down to the Garavogue or somewhere like that for a pint after the show or grabbing a sea-weed bath so I will love going back, it is the ultimate bus man’s holiday,” Sonya enthused.

‘How to Keep an Alien’ is in the Hawk’s Well Theatre on Thursday, September 24 at 8pm. Tickets are €16 (€14 conc) and can be booked through the Hawk’s Well box office on 071-9161518 or see

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