Thomas Studley. An Appreciation

The passing of actor, Thomas Studley, is of historic importance.

He was one of the original founding members of the Radio Éireann Repertory Company in 1947. Later to become known as the RTE Players, Tom was an integral cog in that incredibly creative wheel of Irish culture.

Equally adept in Irish language plays, English and world classics, he brought a distinctive style of performance to a large and appreciative radio audience for nearly forty years.

Prior to joining Radio Éireann, Tom had already established himself as a stage actor, featuring in many Abbey Theatre plays. The constrictions of radio work limited his later appearances there, to “King of the Barna Men” in 1967, “Aaron Thy Brother” in the 1968 Dublin Theatre Festival and, ”The Drums of Father Ned” in 1985.

An extremely good mimic, Tom made memorable broadcasts as Sean O’Casey and Bernard Shaw, and on retirement, had amassed an amazing total of more than 1,000 radio performances.

Enigmatic in performance, as well as in a very private life, Tom had a well concealed sense of humour. However, his unique ability, on occasion, to completely re-think and change his performance, not only prior to live broadcasts, often caused much consternation to colleagues. The resultant broadcasts were certainly interesting and spontaneous. Perhaps being of a different generation I quite enjoyed the “challenge” of responding. RTE Radio Drama could never be accused of being complacent during Tom’s era.

An extensive archive has, thankfully, encapsulated the work of a unique artist and a reluctant ‘radio star’. He has left us with the acknowledgment that he was at the forefront of that “Golden Age” of radio drama, whose sound waves rippled across Europe to deserved recognition.

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