Commissions & Residencies
In Mermaid we ensure we keep artists and audiences at our heart. We believe in the importance of self expression and the right of every citizen to have the opportunity to be part of and engage in cultural activity. Mermaid Space is our residency programme which helps us ensure we’re not just a centre which shows work but also a space where work is created, where it is made.
Our residencies confirm our commitment to supporting artists to make work in Wicklow and we’re particularly interested in work that is relevant to our day to day lives. We also endeavour to support the work of artists around the country because we understand the importance of connectivity and partnership in ensuring success. This season we will expand existing relationships as well as introduce ourselves and you to new artists and their work.
This season we are very pleased to announce the development and realisation of new large-scale initiatives as well as new artists to our portfolio; Jody O’Neill is a writer / theatre maker living in Wicklow. Over the coming eight months starting in September 2019, Mermaid, in partnership with The Abbey Theatre (Dublin) and the Everyman (Cork) are supporting Jody and her collaborating artists in the making of a new work called What I (Don’t) Know About Autism. This piece is written for a cast of both autistic and allistic (non-autistic) performers. It’s a piece that celebrates autism whilst dramatising the negative impact common misconceptions and popular therapies can (and have) had on members of the autistic community. This piece supports non-pathology-based views of autism, advocating support and acceptance over ‘cures’. Using a nonlinear, disjointed structure, the play will invite a neurotypical audience to experience some of the issues of living in a world not designed to meet your needs. For audience members with autism, the play should be a validation and affirmation of autistic identity.
The creative team are: Jody O’Neill (Writer), Donal Gallagher (Director), Melissa Nolan (Producer), Cindy Cummings (Choreographer), Medb Lambert (Set/Costume), Eoin Winning (Lighting), Carl Kennedy (Sound) and Lisa Mahony (Production Manager). The cast includes: Shay Croke, Peter Daly, Paula McGlinchey, Jayson Murray, Jody O’Neill and Eleanor Walsh.
One of the key reasons why Mermaid is involved is not just because we greatly admire Jody and her practice, but because the piece is to be made with an ethical process. The making differs from the typical four-week rehearsal period. To accommodate the actors with autism the group are working shorter days over two periods of development allowing for rest, breaks and time in between work for line-learning and assimilation of choreography and blocking. AsIAm Youth Leadership Team are consulting on the writing and making of the work and KCAT are also offering ongoing advice and support around creating inclusive theatre.
On September 6th at 8pm, after five days working in Mermaid’s auditorium, Jody and her team will present a work-in-progress. I urge you to come and see what they are making. The final production will be presented in The Peacock Theatre 3rd-8th February 2020, Mermaid Arts Centre 15th February 2020 and The Everyman 11th-13th February. This work-in-development is funded by Wicklow County Council, and is also supported by Rough Magic Theatre Company and Fishamble New Play Company. The production in 2020 is funded through an Arts Council Project Award.
Mermaid are also delighted to be working with Dylan Tighe for the first time. I have for many years greatly admired Dylan as an artist for his practice, perspective and outlook. His work is alternate to the mainstream, it is social minded, political and provocative. He is working with The Abbey Theatre on a co-production of ‘Pasolini's Salò Redubbed’ to be presented as part of Dublin Theatre Festival from 26th September to 5th October on the Peacock Stage.
In advance of its premiere at the Abbey, and as part of its process of creation, Dylan and his collaborators are working on the making of the piece for 4 days in Mermaid. This production is a live redubbing of Pasolini’s controversial 1975 film ‘Salò, or the 120 days of Sodom’, daringly transposed to Ireland. Dylan was supported in 2018 by Trinity Creative Challenge and has been working on a radical adaptation of this film, exploring themes of abuses of power, structural violence, masculinity and class supremacy. On September 12th at 8.00pm we will have an informal presentation of material from the team’s rehearsals-in-residence.
Dylan (Director and writer) and his collaborators; Actors Lauren Larkin, Niamh McCann, Gina Moxley, Thomas Collins, Will O’Connell and Daniel Reardon with artists Aedín Cosgrove (Set & LX Design), José Miguel Jiménez (Video Design), Kevin Gleeson (Post-Production Sound Design), Alexis Nealon (Sound Engineer and Additional Design), Ellen Kirk (Costume Supervisor and Stylist), Grace Morgan (Assistant Director), Anthony Hanley (Production Manager), Baz O’Donovan (Stage Manager) and Producer Gwen Van Spijk.
The final work in development is by artist Kate Heffernan. Kate and Mermaid are working in partnership with Project Arts Centre on a new work. GUEST HOST STRANGER GHOST is about three 30-somethings who temporarily rent a house owned by an elderly woman now living her last months in a nursing home. The house is in limbo, abandoned in a sudden health crisis, never again to be occupied by its owner, but held until her death as dictated by the State, rented out by her children, to be sold posthumously as a condition of the Nursing Home Support Fair Deal Scheme. The lives of its three current occupants go on, surrounded by the stuff of this woman’s entire life.
A story about people living in someone else’s home, is conceived as a play for the stages of other people’s plays, designed to be performed pre-show on the sets of other people's productions – in a form that reflects the transience and heightens the time limit of its characters’ living situation.
In this development period, Kate and her collaborating artists will be exploring the limits and possibilities of an experimental light-on-its-feet performance that can happen on wildly different stage designs, exploring the intricacies and prospects of being let in by the kindness of a host production. In a marriage of form and content, our ‘guest’ performance has been let in by its ‘host’, but we can't really touch anything, we'll have to leave it as we found it, and we must be out as soon as we’re told. What begins in working light must end in the pre-show bulb check, sound level test and LX cue-to-cue by the host operator as they prepare for their own performance, and the trajectory and movement is marked and defined by these definites.
Our hosts for this development and showing are the incredible local theatre group Square One. This piece would not be possible without their openness, kindness and professionalism of their Director, designers and all of their actors and participants. Do come to the showing of GUEST HOST STRANGER GHOST at 6.00pm on Friday 8th November, and quite frankly I strongly encourage you so stay and see the wonderous production by Square One, as they never disappoint!
Nyree is a performance maker. The driving force behind her artistic practice is the pursuit of truth inside the space of a theatre. She is working in development and is exploring the genre of documentary theatre. Nyree, with the support of Mermaid Arts Centre has been awarded an Arts Council Artists Bursary. Ultimately what this does is it buys her the time and gives her the chance to explore the elements, codes and ethics of documentary practices and will help her to consider what she might be able to bring to the cannon of this style of work.
Nyree is going to spend time researching the history of documentary theatre, both in Ireland and abroad. She will be mentored by Brokentalkers theatre co. She wants to investigate how best to represent real life events in a theatre space and then she will apply her learnings in a practical setting in the development of a new piece, working title ‘Lobsters; an investigation in finding love, then and now’.
Nyree plans to start by interviewing 30 people in their thirties to find out how they feel about relationships, finding love and what they wish was different. She also wants to interview 30 people over the age of 65 to know what finding love once was, what it has become, and where things went so wrong (and so right). More than simply collating funny stories that the dating world of 2019 certainly offers, Nyree aims to reveal the unrevealed, the taboo, the real fears and hopes of her generation. She’s intrigued by the subverted subjects within the topic- for example those who choose to stay alone, Incels; a collective of people who feel rejected by society and romance- and the Irish public health crisis that is contemporary loneliness. She will look closely at the cyclical nature of finding a partner, the strategies people have to do this, and why people often choose to stay single.
This season (and onwards!) Mermaid aims to focus our attention on programmes of activities where we provide opportunities for young people to develop their creative potential.
Artist Colm Keegan (Writer/Playwright/Poet) is running a series of workshops with young people from Little Bray Youth Project. Working with musicians from Music Generation, Colm and the young people will write, create and perform their own spoken word performance poetry in their own community centre and on Mermaid’s stage. (In partnership with Wicklow County Council Arts Office and CREATIVE Ireland).
FIGHTING WORDS YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS' PROGRAMME
Mermaid is supporting FIGHTING WORDS Wicklow in hosting a series of workshops for 8 young aspiring playwrights. They will have professional artists visit and advise and in 2020 they will present their work with professional Directors and Cast members. See https://www.mermaidartscentre.ie/whats-on/events/fighting-words-call-out for more details.
YOUTH FILM MAKING PROJECT
Mermaid is partnering with Wicklow County Council Arts Office funding from CREATIVE Ireland on hosting and co-ordinating a series of filming making workshops with three schools. The workshops will include; Scriptwriting, Acting for Screen, Directing, Camera Operation and Post-production. Each school group will plan, make and edit their own films which will be screened in Mermaid in January 2020.