Commissions & Residencies
MERMAID SPACE is our residency programme which helps us to ensure we’re not just a centre of presentation but a place for creation. It confirms our commitment to supporting the work of artists to research, make and produce work in Wicklow. This is how we keep artists at our core, because keeping them at our centre, at our heart, helps keep us as a space relevant.
As we enter 2017, with a spring in our step we’re very pleased to say we’re planning on building on some of our relationships with a number of local artists as well as introducing new names and fresh faces to our portfolio and to you!
Gap Day, an initiative led by Lian Bell (funded through the Arts Council Theatre Development Programme) is to continue into a second year. This initiative offers freelance theatre artists creative days where dreaming, thinking and planning time is valued. In 2016 we supported 15 artists in 13 different venues in 8 counties with 24 paid days. In 2017 we are being even more ambitious and plan on increasing our support to include 27 artists with a total of 54 paid working days. They will be selected from an open call (launched on December 1st) and over February to March 2017 work will start around the country. Check in on our website and we’ll let you know who they are and what exciting plans they have hatched.
In January we start work in the first week back with Noel Mac Aoidh & Shane Conaty who are creating an interactive virtual reality film called An Actors Kiss. Conventional virtual cinema is a linear narrative shot on a 360 degree camera which allows the audience to decide which bits are important by simply turning their heads. Bringing together new technology in 3D sound and virtual reality, this short film is going to explore this new medium by empowering the audience into shaping the film and therefore creating unique experiences. The audience will be like the film director, selecting the location and camera through which they view the story. This is not a game ... it’s not a film ... it will be a virtual film (and no – you don’t get kissed by the actor!).
Also in January we are supporting the making of new theatre work with Talking Shop Ensemble, Shaun Dunne, Aisling Byrne and Lisa Walsh. The piece is called Displaced Family Project and it explores the experiences of single mothers locked in emergency accommodation in Ireland. The artists are interested in viewing this urgent subject through the space of one landing where a number of women are living side by side, with limited space, support and hope for moving on. Their ambition is to blend documentary material with new writing. They’re collaborating with artists Louise Lewis, Lauren Larkin, Charleigh Bailey, Kilian Waters and Cameron Mac Cauley and will work for two weeks with a free showing – please do come and join us.
In February Nyree Yergainharsian will work for a week to develop a new piece about her sister, Sona. In 2012 Sona was diagnosed with stage 2A Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkins Lymphoma, a rare cancer of the blood that took active residence in her for almost two years and quietly has her body for the rest of her life. Inspired by Sona’s blog during that time, Nyree has been developing the piece with a range of invited artists over the last two years. Currently she is writing it in collaboration with writer and maker Shaun Dunne. The pair will spend a week here with actors with the aim of creating a final draft. We hope to get the piece to the stage where we can apply for funding to go into production later in 2017.
Our talented dance artists in residence; Karen Gleeson, Nick Bryson and Aisling O’Coineen, have been hatching expansive plans for a series of innovative performances, talks, workshops and off site work for 2017. With a particular focus on professional development they have huge ambitions; to establish a base for dance in the county, broaden relationships and supports with and for other dance practitioners in Wicklow and extend and deepen existing and new relationships with partners nationally and internationally; including BIFE, Commonground Bray and Greystones Studios as well as participating in a residency exchange in Dans Brabant in the Netherlands. Do come to their first workshop and keep your eyes open for dancing in the streets as part of International Dance Day with students from Bray Institute of Further Education.
MADE IN MERMAID is an initiative where we offer further support to artists (some of whom we’ve had in residence) in the creation and production of work. In the first quarter of 2017 we are working with two incredible women. Actor, writer and theatre maker Louise Lewis and Eleanor Philips, visual artist, community and social activist and all round legend.
Louise Lewis will be working over two months on the development of her piece called The Aid Worker and the Girl. Louise is an awarding winning writer, actor and theatre maker. In this new piece she is asking questions. What’s it like to love someone who travels to some of the most deprived countries in the world to do their job? What do you have for breakfast before you drop them to the airport? How many times is it ok to tell them you love them, without it sounding clingy? From the Ebola drenched graveyards of Sierra Leone to the isolation of the Congolese jungle, what’s it like to love an Aid Worker? Incorporating collected research from questionnaires from loved ones of aid workers worldwide alongside autobiographical material Louise aims to begin the journey to create a visually stimulating theatre piece around the lives of Aid Workers and the people they leave behind.
Eleanor Philips is working on a new durational piece with a working title WITHHOLDING BLOOD. Like other markers of social difference, age is given meaning by a culture. Yet unlike gender and race, the subjects of age and aging have received little sustained attention. For women this lack of attention becomes a double bind as they experience a lack of representation within cultural production and a purely medical focus on a physical experience that is particular to their sex. Eleanor plans on inviting middle-aged and older women to take part in a consciousness-raising group sharing narrative around the experience of menopause and age, to share and respond to research on the historical and cultural experiences of menopause. She will work towards translating responses into a language of movement and visual performance.