Repeating, revising and devising: communities in contemporary Galway theatre

O'Gorman, Siobhán (2015) Repeating, revising and devising: communities in contemporary Galway theatre. In: Devised performance in Irish theatre: histories and contemporary practices. Carysfort, Dublin, pp. 189-210. ISBN 9781909325784

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Abstract

This essay examines three productions that employed devising, investigating the theatre-makers’ aims, working processes, and engagement with issues of sociocultural stratification pertinent to Ireland’s histories and contemporary moment. Side-Show’s King Alfred: A Mystery Play was penned by one of the company’s founding members, Martin Sharry, but it was initially inspired by work-shops incorporating Parks’ dramaturgical techniques. The play collates, merges, repeats and revises moments from MGM’s Alfred the Great (1969) and local stories about its 1968 filming in Co. Galway. Fregoli’s Home meditates on the meaning of ‘home’ in contemporary Ireland; drawing on group work and interviews, its performers devised, interwove and enacted fictional narratives concerning the central theme of home. Finally, Galway Youth Theatre (GYT) and Galway Arts Centre Community Drama’s Frank Pig Says Hello, under Andrew Flynn’s direction, revised Pat McCabe’s two-hander of the same name to create a visually arresting, widely-inclusive ensemble piece.

Devising in contemporary Irish performance has found artistic innovation in its emergence from urban and regional geographies, its engagement with local communities and histories, and its relationship with broader national and international movements in theatre and culture. Internationally, a range of interdisciplinary performance practices have flourished since the latter half of the twentieth century. As outlined in the introduction to this volume, such diversity also has been a longstanding feature of theatrical activity in Ireland. However, Irish devised and interdisciplinary performance practices seem only since the 1990s to have proliferated more widely, and progressively garnered increasing acclaim, with recently established companies such as ANU and Brokentalkers quickly rising to prominence. Here, I explore how devising relates to community – as source, participator and subject matter – in the 2012 productions of Home, King Alfred and Frank Pig. These works also showcase how recent theatre in Galway negotiates broader shifts in the working processes of theatre-makers. Home, King Alfred and Frank Pig draw creatively on national concerns and local communities, but often challenge cultural hierarchies linked to traditional concentric models of community that eddy outwards from the patriarchal family. These productions allow us to explore how devising and the theatre that emerges as a result function to interrogate the workings of privilege and exclusion within a post-Celtic Tiger Ireland that remains highly stratified in its social and cultural values. Illuminated by Jill Dolan’s theories on utopia and performance, this essay proposes that devised performance can work to illuminate the restrictions of the present while non-coercively suggesting more inclusive, communal and radically democratic ways of living and organizing society (Utopia 13).

Keywords:Theatre, Irish Studies, Devising
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W460 Theatre Design
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V211 Irish History
W Creative Arts and Design > W430 Producing for Theatre
W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W420 Directing for Theatre
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:24273
Deposited On:26 Sep 2016 08:33

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