I REFUSE TO GROW UP – VERA ION
ROMANIAN EMBASSY READING
Tuesday 3rd December 2013
Rehearsed Play Reading
Abbey Rehearsal Room
An opportunity to jump briefly into a new play, this workshop was short, intense and totally engaging. Vera Ion is a Romanian playwright with a totally unique voice as a writer and strong links to the Irish theatre community . I Refuse to Grow Up (If you can make a small donation) is a piece of docu-theatre that describes a period of time she spent working as ‘Peter Pan’ on London’s Southbank.
It was fantastic to have Vera in rehearsal with myself and actors Nyree Yergainharsian, Emmet Kirwan and Breffni Holohan. She had performed the piece herself a number of times and this was a great opportunity to hear an expanded draft read by professional actors. We discussed the potential of the piece to become a play for a full cast and worked through the script, pulling out themes and moments of tension.
The play was read for a small audience of invited guests including the Romanian Ambassador and several former Romanian Ambassadors – their response was very positive.
Short Play Readings
Thursday 31st October 2013
This was a special project to be involved in and was the result of the excellent work happening in the Abbey’s Development department. Phil Kingston and Lisa Farrelly have built close ties with one of Dublin’s best resources for young, aspiring writers; Writing Words facilitates writing workshops for children and teenagers and has – in recent years – begun encouraging their participants to write for the stage.
I was working with three teenagers on twenty minute pieces they had been developing over several months. Frostbite (Grace Beirne), Amplified (Rachel Drysdale) and Bombshell (Sean Farrelly) proved to be well crafted, diverse texts oozing with potential. The three writers joined me in rehearsal with actors Deirdre Molloy, Manus Halligan and Genevieve Hulme-Beaman and we spoke about the characters, themes and options for staging the readings. Experiencing the process of rehearsal and performance seems to have lit a fire under things for at least one (if not all) of these young writers. You can see how essential these showcases are in encouraging the next generation to follow their talents and push to improve, hopeful that the Abbey may one day welcome them back as accomplished professionals.
Short Play Readings
Tuesday 26 – Wednesday 27 February
As part of my residency at The Abbey Theatre, and representing the culmination of my work with Aideen Howard and Ruth McGowan in the literary department, I directed two twenty minute plays for the HOME season in the Peacock.
These rehearsed readings were directed in collaboration with the playwrights. There is a strong emphasis on this relationship at The Abbey and – given my background in new writing – it’s one I really enjoy too. I was working with Neil Bristow and Darren Donohue on two commissions. These are two very different writers, two very different men, both equally charming and talented.
Grace in the Wilderness
This script was right up my street. A woman brings a destitute young man back to her apartment. She is an aid worker. Their objectives and motivations are revealed over the course of a conversation. They are in an unspecified country in which the gap between poverty and wealth has left a scar. It could be any society, and this placelessness lets us project ourselves onto the situation. It raises deep moral and human questions about charity, trust, mothering and manipulation. Tonally it really appealed to me, semi-surreal, philosophy and emotionally gripping dialogue, great!
We rehearsed the piece with two exceptionally talented actors; Catherine Walker and Gavin Fullam. The process is as much about gaining feedback on the script from the actors you are working with as it is about staging and I think Neil really valued this.
I had an instant understanding of this script. Having grown up in a small village in County Limerick the G.A.A is a strange beast I have been observing since I was a kid. This is a play that immerses you in small town politics and old-worn rivalries. There is a really strong heart to what it presents; the moment of frustration and anger of a man unable to express himself, of a man who feels threatened by what he cannot understand. And all of this wrapped up in the language and bravado of the G.A.A.
We rehearsed the script with the indomitable Andrew Bennett and Pat Nolan. These actors brought a dynamism and playfulness to rehearsal that helped us all to realise the true depth of the writing.