It’s all go.

Design for performance, Event coordination

A bit of an overview post of the past couple of months. It’s been busy.

2015-04-22 10.16.28– A Girl is a Half-formed Thing won a Fringe First and the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award 2015 during its run at the Traverse this August. Aoife Duffin also won the Award for Acting Excellence from The Stage. The London run at the Young Vic for early 2016 has been announced.

– I designed for performances in more dusty disused spaces: a doll factory in Crolly, Co. Donegal, and an unused shop unit in Smithfield, Dublin. More to follow on these.

– My photo (right) was used for the front cover of the Earagail Arts Festival brochure.

– I’ve been selected to take part in the Theatre Forum/Dublin Theatre Festival Next Stage programme later this month – aka theatre bootcamp.

– I was invited to take part in a lovely Dinner and Dialogue event to talk about good design in a beautiful Georgian house in Dublin’s city centre, as part of the year of Irish Design.

– Moonfish Theatre’s Star of the Sea is fitting up again this week for its national tour, including a few days as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

– Thanks to grants from the Arts Council’s Theatre Artist Development Scheme I’m developing a pilot initiative with Mermaid Arts Centre called Gap Days for freelance theatre workers to take paid days to think, dream and plan for later this year, as well as preparing for year four of the Pan Pan International Mentorship programme.

Like I said, all go.

Design for Stage and Screen Ireland website

Design for performance

Earlier this year I worked with Ewa Segner and Siobhán Bourke of Irish Theatre Institute to compile a website to highlight stage and screen designers coming from and working in Ireland.

You can access the website here. It is in Beta mode for the next few weeks, and the content is being updated and added to every day – an ever-growing catalogue of the work of costume, set, lighting and sound designers/composers who design for the stage, and production, hair, makeup and costume designers who design for screen.

A Girl is a Half Formed Thing horizon ideas sketch

A Girl is a Half Formed Thing horizon ideas sketch

Most exciting (for me) is the chance to see some of the sketches side by side with the final production images – it’s always a treat to see the development of ideas, and the idiosyncratic ways that designers approach their work.

The timing of the website going live in June was to coincide with both the year of Irish Design and the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. However, it is a resource that will be kept up by ITI, along the same lines as their Playography and Irishtheatre.ie sites.

NCAD evening class exhibition

Other work

For the past two years I’ve been taking evening classes in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, and this year I did a course called Drawing and Sculptural Processes.

I submitted some pieces for the end of year exhibition at NCAD this July, and won the “ESU Extra Prize” – one of ten prizes awarded for outstanding work. Here are two of the pieces that were exhibited.

Untitled I

Untitled I

A Place for Everything

A Place for Everything

 

Ireland mapping report for IETM

Other work

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 18.05.02Earlier this year, I was commissioned by the secretariat of the IETM international network to write a ‘mapping’ report that outlines the current situation of the contemporary performing arts in Ireland. Incredibly difficult to distill it all down, but I had a go.

Here it is in all its sweeping, unsubtle, gap-filled glory.

(Thanks to Cian O’Brien of Project Arts Centre for being the outside eye and reassuring me that you’d never guess from reading it that I was a left-leaning liberal.)

Sometimes we break (again)

Design for performance

In March this year I got to work with junk ensemble again for the first time since Drinking Dust. Another manky disused space transformed into something a little magical, if I do say so myself.

They were reprising Sometimes We Break, a performance they had originally made for the (much cleaner) Tate Britain in 2012. The original version had been designed by Jo Timmins, and made for family audiences – they asked me to take elements of her design and work with them to re-construct the piece in a (literally and figuratively) darker space. We had the use of two connected warehouses on Barrow Street in Dublin, and the performance was part of Mind Your Step, a walking tour-type season of Irish contemporary dance.

Some before and afters:

We had two days to clear the warehouses, install all technical and design elements, and to tech the 20 minute performance. Sarah Jane Shiels managed to light the place beautifully. But all thanks are due to the stalwart Mags Mulvey (our stage manager) and her team, who spent a full day moving all the disgusting junk from the two warehouses into one corner in a bid to make something aesthetically pleasing/not harmful.

Most of my work focused on the set up of five doll house in diorama-type environments:

IETM Bergamo 2015

Other work

Thanks to a Travel and Training grant from the Arts Council, I was able to get to the Spring Plenary of the IETM network in the Italian hilltop city of Bergamo earlier this year. Surprisingly beautiful, seeing as it’s the Ryanair Beauvais of Milan.

A room with a view

A room with a view

This was a very active meeting for me, and not just on the cheese-eating front. Firstly – the small cobbled streets of the old town were great for networking. As well as catching up with lots of old faces, I met lots of new ones too. Great cheese-based meals were had lovely new contacts including Christian Barry of 2b theatre (Nova Scotia), Ravi Jain of Why Not Theatre (Toronto), Kate Denborough of Kage (Melbourne), Riccardo Fazi of MutoImago (Rome), Linda Di Pietro of Terni Festival, and Tim Stitz of Chamber Made Opera (Melbourne) among others.

I was asked to work with Grzegorz Reske, a Polish cultural manager and curator, to facilitate a discussion he’d proposed on retiring – why, when and how to step away from a project or organisation, particularly one that you have built up around yourself. This turned out to be a much more live topic than I’d appreciated, with lots of insightful and honest contributions from Judith Knight of ArtsAdmin, Gavin Quinn of Pan Pan, Fabio Feretti of Association Etre, Chrissie Poulter of TCD and many more.

Two things that still stick in my mind from this session: Massimo Mancini of Teatro Stabile in Cagliari, Sardinia saying that his working rule is to stay 4 years for something that already exists and 7 years for something he’s created himself. And Liz Pugh of Walk The Plank in Salford talking about the need for a funeral at the end of a project – thinking about whether the body is present or not, whether the mourner have a furious wake or whether everyone slips away home after the ceremony without making eye-contact.

I was also asked to be a participant in the Mentor Room session, where you’re paired with a second mentor and talk for a couple of hours with someone who has a question about their practice. In reality it’s more along the lines of coaching than mentoring, and was an exercise in listening and asking questions, rather than giving advice or opinion. It was great to talk to a young Italian woman about her struggles in deciding how to be both an artist herself (a dancer) and a producer for other people’s. Familiar territory.

Finally, I did a 3 minute presentation as part of the Newsround session to talk about the website I’ve been working on for Irish Theatre Institute highlighting Irish designers for stage and screen. You can see details of everyone who presented at that session here. Thankfully there’s a long-standing IETM tradition of giving newsround participants a shot of the local strong alcohol (grappa in this case) after their 3 minutes are up, because I was bricking it.

My favourite non-art thing that happened was being semi-kidnapped for 20 minutes by a local Bergamasco man who I could barely understand, and being force marched with Gavin Quinn & Aoife White to walk around and photograph the town’s cathedral from every possible angle.

Not true. My favourite non-art thing was the cheese.

2015-04-26 19.24.11

A nice wall. Not the cathedral.