Commissions & Residencies

Mermaid Space

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.

GAP DAY 2019

Whether working to make ends meet or squeezing in creative time at the kitchen table, space to work and space to dream is too often the scarcest commodity available to freelance theatre-makers. The fact is that directors, devisers, dramaturgs, designers, production managers and creative producers working independently all across the country need both physical space and dedicated time to bring the seeds of their ideas to the next level and create great work for audiences. In many industries development of ideas is highly valued and is fostered through investment. Yet, for freelance theatre-makers who are hopping relentlessly from project to project, taking unpaid time out for research and development to get their ideas off the ground seems like a luxury many cannot afford. Through the Gap Day Programme 2019, a project funded by the Arts Council Theatre Resource and Development Scheme and facilitated by Lian Bell and Mermaid, 36 freelance theatre practitioners were offered the necessary support to take some rare time out, in order to put creative time in. Running for the first three months of the year, Gap Day 2019 gave participants all across the island of Ireland access to a room in a creative space local to them where they were free to devote their Gap Day to reading, writing, thinking, drawing, planning, walking, or dreaming - whatever they needed. The programme received incredible support and a total of twenty-two venues hosted Gap Day participants.


Áine Moynihan, Aine Ni Laoghaire, Aine O'Hara, Annie Keegan, Aonghus Óg McAnally, Carla Rogers, Charlene Craig, Clare Monnelly, David Fennelly, Emma O'Grady, Eoghan Carrick, Erica Murray, Grace Kiely, Grace Morgan, Hanna Slattne, Hannah Mamalis, Ita Morrissey, Jeni Roddy, Joanne Ryan, John Dennehy, Laura Perrem, Louise Holian, Lucy Ryan, Mags Keohane, Megan Riordan, Molly O'Cathain, Niamh Lawlor, Peter Shine, Philip St John, Priscilla Robinson, Ronan Leahy, Sarah Bacon, Sarah Jane Shiels, Steve Blount, Tara Breathnach & Veronica Dyas.


Siamsa Tíre (Tralee, Kerry), Draíocht Arts Centre (Blanchardstown, Dublin), Ballina Arts Centre (Ballina, Mayo), Town Hall Theatre (Galway City), Axis (Ballymun, Dublin), Irish Theatre Institute (Dublin City), An Grianán Theatre (Letterkenny, Donegal), Dunamaise Arts Centre (Portlaoise, Laois), Gate Theatre (Dublin City), Belltable (Limerick), Druid (Galway City), Mermaid Arts Centre (Bray, Wicklow), Wexford Arts Centre (Co. Wexford), Everyman Theatre (Cork City), Rua Red (Tallaght, Dublin), Abbey Theatre (Dublin City), Droichead Arts Centre (Drogheda, Louth), Temple Bar Gallery & Studios (Dublin City), Glór (Ennis, Clare), Virtual Reality Ireland (Tallaght, Dublin), Dublin Theatre Festival (Dublin), Monkeyshine Theatre (Callan, Co. Kilkenny).


Mermaid is delighted to have Róise in residence for four months. Over the course of her residency, Róise will work on two initiatives. The first, the development of a new work, Don't Throw Out Your Fat Pants. Róise has gathered partnering organisations; Pentabus, Rural Theatre Co (UK), Cork Midsummer Festival (Cork) and Mermaid Arts Centre (Wicklow). This work will look at our relationship with our bodies. A quick Google search shows us that two thirds of people are on a diet for most of their adult lives. Set against the backdrop of the global 150+ billion diet industry and our cultural and medical preoccupation with body weight and image, we will take a close-up look at dieting as we experience it as individuals, communities and societies. As well as personal testimonies and scientific research, the project will draw on cultural theory and criticism, from Susie Orbach’s seminal 1978 Fat is a Feminist Issue, through the contemporary writing of Journalist Lindy West and academic novelist Roxane Gay, and others. Rather than following the hackneyed ‘fat to thin’, ‘sad to happy’ weight loss narrative, this new musical performance work will explore the topic via a more nuanced approach, reflecting competing and oppositional health research, the obesity epidemic, the role class plays in how our bodies are shaped and read, media saturated body politics and the emerging body-positive movement. Do please join us to see the work in progress. The second is an action research project working with a group of Irish and EU artists. They will research peripheral ideas and practices and how they are and could be presented in rural or suburban contexts, and particularly in Bray. Róise and her colleagues will spend a week in Bray investigating and discussing opportunities for excellence in performance with and within our communities.


Mermaid is a well networked arts centre because we fully understand the importance of interconnectivity and partnership in making work happen and ensuring success. Duality of support from arts organisations is an important part of ensuring sustainability for artists and their practice and in enabling us to bring new artists and new kinds of work to our audiences. This season we are partnering with four different kinds of organisations to support the creation of new work and the presentation of that work in Wicklow and further afield. The first partnership is Mermaid working again with Corn Exchange and Chaos Factory. Corn Exchange’s Director, Annie Ryan worked in January 2019 in Mermaid with Fionnuala Gynax, Danielle Galligan, Rachel Bergin and Venetia Bowe (pictured above). All five will again join forces in July for a week with dancer Justine Cooper and performer and artist Una Kavanagh to work on further exploring and developing new narratives for this dynamic group of women.


Mermaid are also working, in association with Kilkenny Arts Festival, with Playwright Michael West, Actor Stanley Townsend and Director Lynne Parker on an adaptation for the stage of Mike McCormack’s great novel Solar Bones, supported by Rough Magic Theatre Co. This ongoing partnership will see the artists working in development in Mermaid for a week in June and then again at the end of July, before a ‘work-in-progress’ presentation here to Wicklow audiences on Thursday August 1st at 8pm


Partnership; The Civic, Draiocht and Mermaid County Wicklow Arts Centre. Funded by Arts Council of Ireland. Mermaid believes in enticing and engaging children and young people in arts and culture. We truly value children’s equality and diversity and understand the role art plays in active learning, relationship building, language and communication. We believe access to the arts is a fundamental right of every citizen. Anna Newell is a bray-based Theatre Artist. She has been making theatre adventures for people of all ages to watch and to take part in since 1989. In 2011, whilst Artistic Director at Replay Theatre Co., she also started to make work for young children with PMLD (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties) the first homegrown Irish work for this audience. As a result of the quality and the impact of her work on babies and parents The Civic (Tallaght), Draiocht (Blanchardstown) and Mermaid Arts Centre started to work in partnership in 2018 and through 2019 to support the development of four new pieces of work by Anna. In 2018 she developed and presented in all three centres, Baby’s First Xmas and Little Tiny Xmas, a sensory seasonal adventure for children up to 5 years with complex needs. We are delighted to announce in 2019 all three centres will present two new theatre shows by Anna; Sing Me To The Sea, made in collaboration with composer David Goodall is a new hydropool adventure for children and young people with complex needs which Mermaid will present with the support of Enable Ireland Wicklow in July (see page 38 for details) This work was developed in 2018 supported by Wicklow County Council Arts Office and Riverbank Theatre. The second show is BigKidLittleKid, a new show for audiences aged 3-6 which will be presented in September 2019 in Mermaid.