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
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.
Earlier 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.)
In March this year I got to work with junk ensemble again for the first time sinceDrinking 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They were reprising Sometimes We Break, a performance they had originally made for the (much cleaner) Tate Britain in 2012.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:
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.