Cork theatre SHOWs its stuff

FUNDING for the arts may be thin on the ground but there seems to be no end to the amount of theatre companies springing up in Cork, often working without anything approaching a budget or, if they’re lucky, getting one-off funding for projects.

The work of several theatre practitioners in Cork will be showcased at the TDC (Theatre Development Centre) at Triskel Christchurch under the SHOW initiative, now in its second year. This week-long mini-festival of new work invites the public as well as venue managers, festival curators and the Arts Council to see what is happening in theatre in the Cork region. The ultimate aim is that the work will be picked up on and produced for as wide an audience as possible.

Pat Kiernan, artistic director of Corcadorca, which established the TDC to incubate new work, says there are two strands to SHOW – finished work and works-in-progress. Finished work will be presented by Outset Ensemble, Broken Crow, Just Make It Productions and Dominic Moore (with the support of Corcadorca). Works-in-progress will be presented by Conflicted Theatre, Painted Bird, Broken Crow, Expecto Theatre, Ruth Hayes, Ita Morrissey, Richie Clare and Laura O’Mahony.

Kiernan, who is directing Moore’s one-man show, Mr Punch, says it is ready to tour and to be self-sufficient. “Getting bookings for it is very much the purpose of SHOW for Dominic.” As it is for the other companies and individuals who hope to garner interest from industry representatives.

“SHOW was very well supported in terms of the theatre industry last year. There were people from the Project Arts Centre, the Dublin Fringe and various other festivals as well as David Parnell, the head of theatre at the Arts Council.”

Historically, it has been difficult to get theatre and festival programmers to travel to Cork to see work, says Kiernan. “The way SHOW is set up makes it much easier for people to make the journey from Dublin or elsewhere because they can see a condensed body of work in a short period of time.”

Despite the proliferation of small theatre companies in Cork in recent years, possibly due to the TDC and work being done at UCC, Cork audiences don’t always get to see the best of Irish theatre from other cities.

“Touring money has been cut considerably in the last six to eight years so there’s not a huge amount of stuff coming into the city. Having said that, the Everyman has a very interesting programme under Julie Kelleher. We’re quite dependent on the Everyman for theatre as the Cork Opera House has a large number of seats to fill.”

Kiernan admits there is a realisation that something needs to be done about the audience for theatre.

“It’s getting smaller and smaller. The work needs to be better. There’s a collective responsibility for all of us involved in theatre. I still think theatre is associated with being high brow and kind of dull. Theatre-makers have to change that way of thinking.”

For Corcadorca, the solution seems to be re-engaging with off-site theatre. Kiernan says Corcadorca’s production of Enda Walsh’s play, How These Desperate Men Talk, staged in a factory in Kinsale during the summer, was sold out apart from the late night shows.

Future projects for the company include a site-specific production of a new play by Pat McCabe for 2016 as well as working with Enda Walsh again. The company is also working on a big site-specific piece for the Abhainn Rí Festival in Kilkenny next summer. Hopefully some of the other companies at SHOW will also end up being just as busy.

SHOW takes place at Triskel Christchurch, Cork, November 24-30


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