Roma Tomelty, friend and tour de force of Theatre and Screen sadly passed away. Her fire, energy and talent spanned decades and touched many lives. A remarkable woman; actress, producer, author, playwright, teacher, Daughter, Wife and Mother. A campion of the underdog and a fierce campaigner for local talent. Roma mentored to scores of children and young Adults most of whom went on to have careers of their own in the Industry. Her mentoring would blossom into friendship for many and her fire and passion will be missed by all.
Born in 1945 her Father was the actor and playwright Joseph Tomelty Roma went on at an early age to form The Young Irish Theatre Company with Stephen Rea before studying at York University. On return to Northern Ireland she became the Artistic Director of Newry Arts Centre and Riverside Theatre in Coleraine.
Roma and her husband Colin, founded Centre Stage Theatre Company in 1986 to pull focus on Northern Irish/Irish playwrights such as Sam Thompson and Joseph Tomelty. She toured the island and expanded the companies output bringing the likes of Noel Coward, Neil Simon and Tom Stoppard to audiences.
Roma was also committed to teaching drama. In 1985 she started drama classes for children in Queens Street Studio ensuring that through the Troubles, children had access to and a safe space to express themselves and learn. They started Centre Stage, Summer Drama Holiday, with the idea that young people learn by doing and so the goal was to have children learn the arts by working with professional working actors/dancers/musicians. After 36 years of happy summers, so many pupils past and present have commented on how Roma changed their lives or taught them something irreplaceable.
Roma published two books co written with Sybill Allen and was a Playwright of major plays such as The Wind and the Sleeping Harp, Schooled to a Foreign Voice and Mischief and Madness about Jonathan Swift. She also was the author of many Christmas Plays that Centre Stage would perform to happy audiences each festive season.
As well as her stage career, as a screen actress she has appeared recently in A Christmas Star (a film close to her heart), The Frankenstien Chronicles and Game of Thrones to name only a few. Just recently she was filming with the Gleeson brothers in the upcoming Frank of Ireland.
Her passing is not related to Covid-19 and her family would like to thank everyone for their kind words at this difficult time.
TheatreNI offers our deepest sympathies to husband Colin and her daughters Ruth, Rachael, Hannah and her sister Frances.
‘We’ll light the place…A blaze of light. Where there’s light there’s life.’
From Down the Heather Glen by Joseph Tomelty