Tag Archives: Gaitkrash

In praise of theatre and collaboration

Making theatre can be life affirming, Sometimes when I collaborate with others, I realise how remarkable humans can be. At the great risk of sounding like some evangelising naïf who has just undergone a religious conversion, or taken too much MDMA, I have to say working with Gaitkrash, The Llanarth Group and Theatre P’Yut has been one of the most rich, harmonious and satisfying experiences of my working life.

And this wasn’t just because of the cultural diversity, and the astounding connections we found between Irish and Korean cultures (one of my favourite moments was the interweaving of Irish Sean nos -‘old style’ solo singing mingling with Sal Puri, a dance from the Korean Shamanistic tradition for the release of han); it was the generosity of the individuals involved – performers Regina Crowley, Bernadette Cronin, Jeungsook Yoo, Sunhee Kim, Jing Hong Okorn-Kuo, cellist Adrian Curtin, sound artist Mick O’Shea and all the interns from Cork, the young practitioners and technicians working with us, notably Josephine Dennehy and Katrina Foley. It was the joy of working with my long-term collaborator director Phillip Zarrilli, the speed and ease of our interactions and dialogue, the swift comprehension and response of our co-creators, the generosity of so many, not least our Fundit supporters, who assisted in making this happen.

In a difficult time, when so much feels compromised and austere, challenging and aggressive, when education is run as a business and integrity has been leached from our economic and financial structures, to collaborate and work generously and with commitment with others, seems, frankly, miraculous. It is good practice. It is communicative. It is political. It is thoughtful. It is communal. It has flow. It is efficient. It is creative. It is building many things – not just an experience for an audience, but team work, communication skills, an understanding of good working dynamic, problem solving, a sense of community and our individual and collective roles in that. It teaches patience, encourages understanding and empathy, creates a forum where difference is explored, ideas are shared, debates are made, connections possibly felt. As drama and art are cut totally from the school curriculum, as the arts are seen even more as a luxury rather than a necessity, as culture as creative endeavour is driven increasingly out of our lives, I am increasingly aware of what we are losing and feel we must resist this at every cost.

‘Bump in’

Regina Crowley and Jeungsook Yoo in the tech

Regina Crowley and Jeungsook Yoo in the tech

An early start for the ‘bump in’ to The Granary Theatre with Playing the Maids. The morning starts with checking the copious amounts of flowers used in the design are fireproofed, then Éadaoin Looney, Aoife Bradley and Katrina Foley help me create bunches of blooms to be suspended from the rig to delineate the playing space.

Flower girls Aoife Bradley, Katrina Foley and Éadaoin  Looney

Flower girls Aoife Bradley, Katrina Foley and Éadaoin Looney

We’re assisted in the get-in by fantastic technical interns, who hang the lanterns, string flowers onto fishing lines, suspend them from the gantry and deal with whatever other odd request we make without batting an eyelid.

Sinead Devoy, Jack Holland, Aoife Bradley, Jospehine Dennehy and Alan  Mooney

Sinead Devoy, Jack Holland, Aoife Bradley, Jospehine Dennehy and Alan Mooney

We are in the midst of focusing and preparing for the tech dress at 6pm this evening as I write at 5.15pm…. but it’s looking good under the initial lighting states…..

'The Maids'

‘The Maids’

The dramaturg’s progress

'Playing the Maids' rehearsal from Adrian Cirtain's point of view

‘Playing the Maids’ rehearsal from Adrian Cirtain’s point of view

I am in Cork, working with The Llanarth Group, Irish company Gaitkrash and Theatre P’Yut from South Korea on Playing the Maids for the Midsummer Festival at the Granary Theatre this Friday 19th and Saturday 20th June.

We started work over the weekend, revisiting the seventy minute performance initially developed over a week in September last year. A mixture of text, choreography, dialogue, and physical scores, we have five female performers – Bernadette Cronin, Jing Hong Okorn Kuo, Sunhee Kim, Regina Crowley, Jeungsook Yoo – an on-stage cellist, Adrian Cirtan, and sound artist Mick O’Shea. As always I’m astonished at the company’s body and sonic memory as they remember a structured improvisation from nine months ago.

Although we might anticipate there being difficulties working with such an international group as ours – Irish, Welsh, American, Korean, and Chinese-Singaporean – scheduling when we are all available for work has been the biggest challenge, especially when we don’t have the luxury of time. We have just three weeks spread over an eighteen month period to make the project, initiating in September 2013, previewing work-in-progress this week in Cork, and premiering in Cardiff in February 2015. Many might see this as a recipe for disaster, questioning how the work, focus, and material could be sustained over such a long gap, but we haven’t found this to be a problem. Apart from the good fortune of having such generous and committed practitioners to work with, good documentation has been key – the sharings last September in Llanarth and Cardiff were professionally filmed, and with two cameras – long shot and close-up. Watching the different dvds and comparing and analysing the different structures have been essential for my work as a dramaturg and director Phillip Zarrilli.

Rehearsals 'Playing the Maids'. Photo: Adrian Cirtain

Rehearsals ‘Playing the Maids’. Photo: Adrian Cirtain

Working intermittently over an extended period also brings the advantage of the maturation of our ideas. Although we haven’t been consistently returning to the emerging script over the past nine months, the work hasn’t stopped- even if it has been largely unconscious.

As a dramaturg, I’ve learnt a lot on this project, especially the necessity of documenting improvisations fully – and not just on camera. Throughout the process I have been notating the actions of improvs, making little diagrams of blocking and use of space, outlining the shape of a structure, its length and tone, plus whatever other notes I need to capture the moment for future analysis or discussion.

Already this week when revising scenes/structures, we’ve questioned what the initial stimulus was nine months ago, and what the instruction and intention had been. My notes combined with the performers’ have enabled us not to try and recreate the initial improvisation (which would be impossible even if we wanted to do such a strange thing), but allows us to reconsider the purpose and dynamic – and inevitably to find something that helps the actors’ inner work.

I am constantly questioning what the work of the scene is as we revise. We are asking ‘is that what we mean? Is this what we want to say?’ The audience is always with me, and the relationship between spectacle and spectator paramount.

I see it as a dramaturg’s job to question everything, so material isn’t included just because it was part of the original work. Everything must serve a purpose, and earn its right to be included, by contributing to the whole.

The warm-up is drawing to a close as I write this. It’s time to stop blogging and begin with the day’s rehearsals.

More tomorrow.

ps. We are delighted to see ‘Playing the Maids’ is Pick of the Week for Cork in the Irish Sunday Times.

20-21 June
playing the maids
http://www.corkmidsummer.com/programme/event/playing-the-maids

Thank you all!

So many thanks to all who supported the campaign for Playing the Maids, the Llanarth Group, Gaitkrash and Theatre P’Yut forthcoming production, previewing at Cork Midsummer Festival 20th June 2014 and premiering in Wales in February 2015.

get-attachment-3.aspx

Support came in the form of encouraging emails and best wishes as well as donations – and against all odds and expectations, we met our target in one week instead of the usual three. The boost has been incredible – it is both exciting and humbling to have strangers as well as friends, colleagues and family support us this way. Thank you all.

Further delight came today with a small grant from The Peggy Ramsay Foundation to enable my writing and involvement in the project. This is particularly poignant, as I was co-winner of the Peggy Ramsay Award for my play Yard at The Bush Theatre, London,  in 1998. That prize stopped being awarded shortly after, but it seems to me this current way of supporting writers is far- reaching, efficient, and not London-ccentric. My sincere thanks to the panel of the foundation who looked upon the project in such a warm and enthusiastic light.

I  head off to Cork to work on the piece next week and this affirmation from a writing organisation as well as our future audience is wonderful. I wish others the same joy and success in applications and funding as I have had in this rare and terrific week.

Thank you all.

*

Details of the project and festival can be viewed here: http://www.corkmidsummer.com/programme/event/playing-the-maids

Playing the Maids trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THEUAluTiRo[

 

Fundit: Playing the Maids – three days to do it.

get-attachment-3.aspx

Crowdfunding and its ilk is probably the defining word and activity of this particular era. I’ve heard so many arguments for and against of late – euphoric stories of people investing in arts projects they believe in (and getting ‘gifts’ or perks in return), to those who see this kind of funding as being complicit in the privatisation of the arts.

Adrian Curtin and Mick O'Shea

Adrian Curtin and Mick O’Shea

However we may approach it, this practice is now ubiquitous, and part of the process of getting work before an audience… And so here is an appeal from Gaitkrash (Ireland), The Llanarth Group (Wales), Theatre P’Yut (Korea), and Jing Okorn Kuo. We are looking for support to realise Playing the Maids…

As rewards for supporting this campaign, we have tickets to the previews in Cork in June 2014 and the premiere in Cardiff in 2015, original artwork by Mick O’Shea and other surprises and treats. We are trying to raise 2,500 euros over one week (donations can be made in euros and sterling) – we are half way there after three days and have three days remaining – so time is of the essence!

I know these are austerity times and the artistic community are making increasingly ambitious work with less and less money. I know there is barely enough money to go around as it is – and our future challenges will be how to survive. All we can do is continue with hope, optimism and  integrity, making the best work we can. I think this is a special project, but you can see a trailer and details of the campaign at:

http://fundit.ie/project/playingthemaids-gaitkrashllanarth-pyut

Playing the Maids: Inspired by Jean Genet’s classic, playing ‘the maids’ explores the dynamics of power and servitude, wealth-as-privilege, and the politics of intimacy. Two pairs of maids – Irish and Korean, a Chinese Madame, a sound artist, and a cellist weave together a rich web of musical, textual and gestural languages to create a compelling theatrical experience.

‘…a very moving and intense experience… humour, beautiful imagery; a strong and fascinating sound score that forms an integral part of the live performance…’

A collaborative, co-created production featuring an international group of seven performers: two onstage musicians (Mick O’Shea: sound artist; Adrian Curtin: cello) with a Chinese ‘madame’ and two sets of sister-maids—one Irish (Bernie Cronin; Regina Crowley) and one Korean (Jeungsook Yoo; Sunhee Kim). Director: Phillip Zarrilli; Dramaturg: Kaite O’Reilly.

PREVIEWS: 2014 CORK MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL:

Friday 20 June: 18:00 and 20:00; Saturday 21 June: 13:00; 18:00; 20:00…Tickets: GRANARY THEATRE, MARDYKE, CORK. info@granary.ie 021 490 4275 http://www.corkmidsummer.com/programme/event/playing-the-maids…On-line video trailer: youtube: playing the maids

PREMIERE: CHAPTER ARTS CENTRE (Cardiff, U.K.)

From February 20-28, 2015…Original development funding by the Arts Council of Wales, 2013.

 

 

get-attachment-2.aspx

Diary of a collaboration. Day 5 into 6.

A conversation between Adrian Curtin and Mick O’Shea about music, sound and process on their walk into rehearsals for (Playing) the Maids.

https://soundcloud.com/a-curtin/a-conversation-with-mick-oshea

Diary of a collaboration. Day 5.

Jing, Bernie, Sunhee, Regina, Jeungsook and Genet's 'The Maids' (first edition).

Jing, Bernie, Sunhee, Regina, Jeungsook and Genet’s ‘The Maids’ (first edition).

Images from within the rehearsal room:

mick and puppet

Mick O’Shea and puppet at the sound desk.

Regina Crowley, Bernie Cronin and Jing Okorn-Kuo.

Regina Crowley, Bernie Cronin and Jing Okorn-Kuo.

A day of running structures, testing, revising, trying, assembling….

The view form the floor

The view from the floor