Beyond The Pale: Time for a bit of Spraoi

Each week, Stage Door Live’s Associate Producer Janice de Bróithe takes a look at theatre Beyond The Pale. This week she reflects on a party and Spraoi in Waterford where there wont be a big parade or fireworks but there will be a host of installations and performances.

Each week, Stage Door Live’s Associate Producer Janice de Bróithe takes a look at theatre Beyond The Pale.

I have news. This weekend, I attended an actual party, with real live people. To be fair, it was all out-doors and there weren’t that many of us, and we all very conscientiously socially distanced around a huge fire-pit and it was very strange not to be hugging, but nonetheless: it was a party.

Dawn breaking. Time for Bed.

There was music, food, and even a bit of (questionable) dancing at 3am. Admittedly, at first it was a bit overwhelming, and over-stimulating after spending months only spending time with the same ten or so people, but once the initial shock passed, it was brilliant. There was singing, some improv and even a game of the most spectacular death (thanks to an anti-crow banger in the neighbouring field) which continued to pepper our conversations and songs until dawn. It is probably worth mentioning at this point, if it’s not already obvious, that it was a party filled with fellow theatre makers.

For many reasons, I found the night quite cathartic and healing. Obviously it was wonderful to spend time and celebrate the birthday of someone I love, with people I love, but also for the sheer joy of being outdoors, sharing stories and songs and dancing. It really was like a mini-festival, tents and all! More than ever, it gave me a feeling that the world maybe, just might be, (though I hate to say it in case I jinx it) opening up again.

Which does bring me rather neatly to the subject of this weeks blog. A few weeks ago, I featured the Theatre Royal Waterford, who were working hard to keep the light on while the theatres are dark. This week, I was delighted to see Waterford once again giving me optimism when the Spraoi Festival announced it will be going ahead.

Spraoi started out way back in 1993 as a one day event in the streets of Waterford City. It was a huge success and has since grown to become one of Ireland’s leading street arts theatre companies best known for its annual  Spraoi Festival and Parade held every August Bank Holiday weekend. The Festival, devoted to Street Art has become a firm favourite amongst locals and tourists alike and attracts an over 100,000 people to Waterford City over its three days. For those of you who don’t know, ‘spraoi’ is the Irish word for fun, and I think it’s safe to say that the company has more than lived up to that name over the years.

Like every other event, they were forced to cancel due to Covid 19 back in April, but even then Director TV Honan remained optimistic for the future of the festival.  Thankfully, that open mindedness has now born fruit as they have announced a re-packaged festival called Spraoi Time 2020 which will take place from September 4th – 13th.

Due to restrictions, unfortunately there wont be a big parade or fireworks but there will be a host of installations and performances for you to enjoy between 8.30pm and 10.30pm each night of the festival. Their artists are, as we speak, right now beavering away (safely) in their studios working on all manner of exciting props/costumes and goodness knows what other magic for the festival!

There will be artistic installations at John Robert’s Square, George’s Street and Arundel Square & special short-format performances will be presented as pop-ups in various novel city-centre locations. There will be sculpture, spectacle, circus, music, light and sound.  It all sounds positively magical, and no doubt will be a huge boost to the city. I know I will definitely be hopping in the car for some much needed street spectacle, and I’m sure I wont be the only one.

So there you have it: real live street performance, with real live people.

Hallelujah, ladies and gentlemen there is hope that the live, shared experience will come back. May this be this first of many posts featuring such events and may we cautiously hope that the spectre of Covid will soon exit stage left.


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