Treading the stage at Triskel

Pat Kiernan
Pat Kiernan

A showcase of theatrical work from six Cork-based companies runs at the TDC (Triskel Development Centre) from Nov 29-Dec 8.

Initiated in 2011 and managed by Corcadorca, the TDC is a studio space dedicated to the development of professional theatre, free of charge. The showcase, entitled SHOW, is a mini festival of new work that has been in development at TDC.

The new shows will be staged by Just Made It Productions, Tada, Asylum Productions, Broken Crow, Roundhouse and Conflicted. The idea behind the festival is that it will be a platform for the work to be seen by programmers of national venues, festivals and funding bodies so the plays can have life after the TDC.

Artistic director of Corcadorca, Pat Kiernan, says SHOW will allow the companies to produce finished work rather than material that’s in development. “At TDC committee level, it was felt that despite the week-long residencies, there weren’t that many companies bringing their plays to full productions. The cost is too prohibitive. Given that we have the use of a theatre, we thought it would be a good idea to use that facility more. SHOW offers people the opportunity to see a lot of work in a short period of time.

“The TDC isn’t the saviour of theatre but it’s an amazing facility. Every artist who has worked there feels a sense of ownership over the space.”

The theatre scene in Cork city is very lively. “There’s definitely a bunch of exciting theatre artists in Cork who seem to have their own voices,” says Kiernan. “Historically, theatre people left at the age of 20, 21 or 22. But there are more mature artists now in the city, some working with funding and some not.”

Kiernan says that six or seven years ago, professional theatre work in Cork was down to just Corcadorca and Graffiti. “Now, there are these six companies and another three or four. What’s interesting is that these companies are kind of at the second stage of their careers. They have stayed in Cork, whereas before, artists got a flavour of theatre here and then headed off. Now, people are working here at a very high level. A lot of them are graduates of the department of theatre studies at UCC. They’re serious dudes.”

Laura Wyatt O’Keeffe of Just Made It Productions will perform Wish I Was. Written by the actor, it is directed by Judi Chalmers. It follows 25-year-old Aisling on her journey through Thailand and Australia. Wyatt O’Keeffe, a graduate of theatre studies at UCC and of East 15 School of Acting in London, is now working in both London and Cork. She would also like to bring her play to Dublin, but funding is an issue.

“Hopefully, people from the Arts Council and Culture Ireland will come to SHOW and maybe support or bring us forward with applications.”

Cork is really exciting and diverse at the moment, says Wyatt O’Keeffe. “It’s not about kitchen sink drama anymore. There’s lots of mixed media stuff being done and different art forms.”

Broken Crow will present LifeDeath by Adam Wyeth at SHOW. It’s described as an absurd satire and a drawing room farce in which a surreal psychological drama unfolds.

One of the founder members of the company, Ronan Fitzgibbon, said that when the opportunity of SHOW arose, it seemed like the perfect vehicle in which to give a new director a chance.

“We were looking for a project for Eadaoin O’Donoghue who we asked to direct the play. SHOW is a fairly friendly type of environment where you don’t have to worry about the production side of things given the stripped down nature of it. We’ve had sessions working on it at the TDC and at Graffiti. We have a philosophy of just doing stuff wherever the opportunity presents itself. We’d love if people from the Dublin Theatre Festival and the Project would come to SHOW.”

Working with shoestring budgets, Fitzgibbon says funding is a huge concern. “A lot of our ensemble are people in their 30s so they’re at a stage where they start getting hit with reality. They want to get married, have kids and take on mortgages. Suddenly, the feasibility of the theatrical lifestyle gets called into questions. But we have a philosophy of keeping doing good stuff and hopefully getting noticed.”

Jennifer Rogers from Roundhouse Productions will present Practise 1. It’s a collaborative piece involving Rogers as the writer/ director, two sound artists and one actor.

“It will be different from other work we’ve done. It’s about exploring forms of making live performance, beginning with sound and then words and performance. It’s really sound art with text. It’s giving me a chance as a writer to try something different. It’s very experimental.

“But we have been given this opportunity to be a bit risky. People might hate it but we’re not concerned about that.”

Rogers agrees that, while there are plenty of theatrical opportunities both in Cork and outside it, the difficulty is funding. “It’s very expensive to even bring plays on County Cork tours. While we have been to Edinburgh and Dublin in the past, we’re up against the struggle of trying to find money, even to just put people up.”

Rogers is looking forward to meeting people involved in theatre at SHOW. She is also interested in meeting possible collaborators. “It’s important to know the kind of theatre you want to make and approaching people who are relevant to that.”


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