Thanks to Noelia Ruiz and Siobhán O’Gorman for asking me to speak on a panel as part of this event – a day-long symposium on scenography in Trinity College Dublin. It really was a great day, and felt like there was a lot still to say by the end of it.
While I missed some of the papers, I did get to hear some great presentations by:
Rachel Hann on the terminology around scenography (I hope to be able to repost some of what she said soon – it was really useful to hear her own definitions around stage design / scenic design / scenography / set design)
Sarah-Jane Scaife, talking about her beautiful Beckett in the City series
Cathy Leeney and Elaine Sisson both presenting very interesting papers about the documentation of design
Aoife Monks talking about magic/mundane lives of costumes and props (who also came out with the great line that “theatre is just made out of stuff and work”)
Sodja Lotker, Director of the Prague Quadrennial, talking about their upcoming event in 2015
Abstracts of all these paper and more can be found here.
When Veronica Dyas asked me to help her put together an installation/performance this May called Here & Now that would be the cumulative event in a project she had been working on for the last few years, I wondered what I could bring to it.
She didn’t need a designer – she knew what she wanted in the space. She didn’t need a producer – she had one on board, and knew that I don’t consider myself a show producer anyway. She didn’t need a director or an outside eye – it wasn’t really that kind of thing. I wasn’t sure what benefit I could be to her, but I have a lot of respect for Veronica, so said I’d help in what way I could. We agreed to meet once a week.
Veronica had what seemed like an enormous satellite team of excellent people contributing work in response to her and her thoughts. Among the people I didn’t meet, who she’d met originally on her Camino walk and were now collaborating remotely, she was working with:
– Eoin Winning designing lights and making everything work
– Dylan Tighe and Little John Nee contributing beautiful music
– The Company members Nyree Yergainharsian as producer, and Jose Miguel Jimenez making a video piece for the performance
– Louis Haugh creating a photographic installation
– Actor Conor Madden filming a documentary
– Theatre maker Sorcha Kenny responding to a previous part of Here & Now where Veronica gave away (nearly) everything she owned
– Amy Conroy of HotForTheatre working as script dramaturg; choreographer Ella Clarke advising on movement
– Aoife O’Sullivan as the dream stage manager
We talked, and I started to see what I could do for her. What I didn’t expect was that working with Veronica would do just as much, if not more, for me. Her practice of encouraging everyone to be in their dream – doing the thing they most want to do – created a feeling of connection, togetherness and calm over the whole event, for participants and audience alike. Everyone was welcome into the space she created. Everyone was at home.
Having the opportunity to be involved in the collaborative practice that Veronica led reminded me of why I got involved in working in the arts in the first place. Her creative openness and dogged optimism combined with a endless reservoir of integrity has encouraged me to keep interrogating my own ideas and plans to make sure they ring true. Thanks Veronica for reminding me of the feeling of long-distance walking, and how it’s worth the effort to bring that frame of mind into everyday life.
Thanks to the generosity of Project Arts Centre, where I worked with last year to put on IETM Dublin, I got to attend the most recent IETM networking meeting in sunny Montpellier.
En route to La Chapelle Gely, a venue in the centre of the gypsy district of Montpellier
Other than getting a hit of vitamin D, tasting one or two local wines and learning all about the inner workings of harpsichords, I got to meet some great people doing interesting things. Here are a (very) few of them in no particular order whose projects, ideas or organisations have stuck with me:
- Michele Losi of Scarlattine Teatro, who are one of the partners in the (literally) epic Meeting The Odessey project. Awarded EU Culture funding, the organisers will set a theatre company afloat to travel through Europe for 3 years, making work as they go. I’m already planning to stow away.
- Ingrid Vranken of Spin in ever increasingly trendy Brussels – part of what sounds like a really interesting collective/cooperative model of 3 artists (Kate McIntosh, Hans Bryssinck and Diederik Peeters) and a producer (Ingrid).
- Kamma Siegumfeldt of Copenhagen’s Dansehallerne who helps coordinate the Nordic-Baltic contemporary dance network and development initiative Kedja (also awarded EU Culture funding). The Kedja wilderness retreats, in particular, make me envious.
- Choreographer Samantha Chester from Sydney who was just starting out on a European research trip thanks to having been awarded a Churchill Fellowship.
- Stewart Laing of Untitled Projects in Glasgow who most recently was in Ireland as one of this year’s MAKE mentors.
- Harley Stumm (the best dancer in IETM) who is helping coordinate the IETM caravan meeting in Sydney, as well as planning an international producer residency between Europe & Australia. He hosted a meeting about the idea in Montpellier, so I expect some further details will be up on his website soon.
- MCP Factory or Marie-Charlie Pignon, who works in Paris as a kind of artistic project advisor and counsellor.
- Steve Slater (who coordinated IETM Glasgow in 2010 and was senior producer at the Tramway for ages) who is back making performance work for the first time in a long time – most recently in Glasgow’s Buzzcut. Always great to hear of people who crossover between the artistic side to the management side and back. I wonder why…
- And an entertaining late night wine-fuelled reminiscence-fest between Mole Wetherell of Reckless Sleepers and Tracy Gentles of Clod Ensemble which means I know a lot more about how things have changed, if I could only remember in which city.
Fit of the giggles.
Here are some photos of our first couple of workshop days on this year’s Wandering Methods project in Dublin Castle.
This is the third year of a craft project co-run by Bealtaine Festival and Craftspace (Birmingham) in collaboration with the Office of Public Works.
In 2012 I coordinated the first version in Rathfarnham Castle and many of the original participants are back this year, along with a new cohort who live close to Dublin Castle. All participants are of retirement age upwards, and have varying craft skill levels – from none at all, to third level arts education.
This year’s lead artist is textile artist Liz Nilsson, and we have a visiting craft designer, Jenny Walsh, who will be introducing the group to the finer points of digital craft.
What one of the participants hopes for the Wandering Methods project.
The focus of this project is really on the process of learning about the history of the Castle together and making work together. For the participants, attending workshops and developing ideas and craft skills as part of a group is the most important aspect of Wandering Methods – we expect to have some kind of exhibition or display in the Castle at the end of the project, but that’s not necessarily the focus of the day-to-day work.
For me, it’s a chance to spend time with a gang of raucous, hard-working, dedicated and hilarious women and men who are hungry to meet each other, to learn skills, to soak up the history of the Castle and to turn their hands to making things they never thought they could.
Just back from an overwhelming two weeks in Castletown House Celbridge, as a participant on the 2014 SPACE programme, run by The Performance Corporation.
Focusing on fostering cross-artform collaboration, the programme threw nine makers together to see how we got on. As a designer it was a real treat to be able to get a taster of working in and with different practices – I know that I will take quite a while to work through a lot of the ideas that came up during the two weeks. Also, I think/hope that some of those collaborative explorations will continue outside of the Celbridge bubble.
Thanks to all at The Performance Corporation for taking me on as a participant, and to Jo Mangan & Hanna Slattne for putting together a challenging and intensive programme. Most of all, many, many thanks to my fellow participants for the excellent chats, provocations and inspirations you provided. Not to mention putting up with me when I was knackered and grumpy, and making me giggle enough to cause damage to my stomach muscles.
Links to my co-participants in SPACE below:
Alejandra Pombo Suárez – video artist
Aoife McAtamney – choreographer
Conor Hanratty – opera & theatre director
Emily Aoibheann – multidisciplinary artist
Michelle Cahill – dance artist
Morgan Wong – visual artist
Paul Curley – performer
Rachel Ní Chuinn – composer
Mark Linnane’s lovely film of the full performance of You Are Here is now available. More about the performance here.
You Are Here (Catapult Dance, 2006) from Mark Linnane on Vimeo.