Haunt Me If You Can

Abbie’s Sparkles From Social Media feature harsh criticism, a mirrored masterpiece in Galway, and her first live, theatre experience with MALAPROP’s Before You Say Anything.
Rose Garden, Inchichore
A perfect place to daydream, among the roses

Hello Everyone and HAPPY FRIDAY!

This might just be my best Friday since March, because last night, ladies, gentlemen, and gentlefolk, I saw a show, inside a place, with other people, with sound, lights, the before and after show buzz, and everything else we’ve been dreaming about for months now (except, of course the after show pints and general canoodling we all know and love.

At 3PM yesterday, I was certain my evening was going to be spent in front of my computer with a hot whiskey and a roaring fire at my feet. Although that did sound delightful (and I assure you, it’s a good night in), I’m ever so thankful part of my role with Theatremaker.ie is to scroll and scan through every social media platform, because it meant I came across this beauty a mere minute after it was posted.

A hauntingly beautiful show, it will be in my head for months to come.

After having my temperature taken by a lovely Fringe volunteer, I saw a few familiar half-faces in the line (we were required to keep our masks on at all times). Before we knew it we were ushered into The Chapel Royal at Dublin Castle, pod by pod.

For those who watched our Instagram last night, they will have caught a glimpse of my journey into town. (spoiler: It was bumpy and I forgot my wallet.)

As we started to settle into our seats, I became really worried that I wouldn’t find the words to express my first theatre experience after all this. I expected to be a bundle of emotions, and to have the 50min piece fly by. It was over all too quickly, but what a challenging and haunting piece it was.

Now I know our Creator and Executive Producer, Kevin has said we are not here to review work. It creates an unnecessary and awkward division between us and our viewers, and I’m not one to “review” a show anyways. I usually find myself tongue-tied for at least 24 hours after. I need time for the experience to soak in. But from the moment the lights dimmed, the entry door shut, and the room hushed, I could feel the electricity of excitement in the air. My skin tingled as the meditative, chant-like opening piece seemed to rattle my ribcage, and swallow us whole.

After a wild ride of a show, with intimate scenes and song interwoven in what Dylan Coburn Gray called a “stained-glass” structure, I was left breathless, with riveting and emotionally jarring movement from Ghaliah Conroy capturing my attention until the non-existent curtain fell.

Can you tell I enjoyed myself? Thank you to the MALAPROP team for a fantastic jump back into live theatre. Check out Dylan Coburn Gray chatting with us about the show on #StageDoorLive Episode 20.

Speaking of reviews

In some ways, live-theatre has existed for most of us on the edge of our universe, like a black hole. We could see things moving around it, in fact, we definitely knew what didn’t constitute live theatre as Zoom lead the way for most productions. But could we tell what we wanted? I don’t think we could see it yet. In comes Twenty-Fifty, and after chatting with Fionnuala and Dan on last week’s episode of Stage Door Live, I cannot wait to see this live, improvised game between Fionnuala and one of the stellar guests the team have lined up. (I’m seeing it Monday, and you betcha I’ll be talking about it on next week’s Sparkles!)

And yet, as we move once again towards live theatre, the inevitable critics come out of hiding, and are ready to pounce. I believe Maeve might be referencing this article from the Irish Times, which called Twenty Fifty “a confused and confusing collaboration”. And to which Dan posted with the comment “Lol. I Disagree.”

Perhaps the mistake on the part of the reviewer was to assume that the work created now would be at all tied in with what live performance meant before the last six months happened. Or perhaps, it just wasn’t their cup of tea.

I’ve learned so much the importance of detailed and thorough research when inviting guests on our show. Although I’ll admit, sometimes we make mistakes, the important thing to recognise is the effort required in documenting and reviewing work. Hopefully readers will be able to see when a critic or reviewer has taken little time to understand the history of a piece and of its creators. Art doesn’t stand alone, it is a part of the constant conversation.

Also, making work is scary and vulnerable and hard and pretty much all theatre makers are masochists at the core anyway, so why worry about our feelings?

First Thought Talks

I’m not much of a podcast gal. I feel overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge I do not know. I know I could fix the latter by changing the former. Alas, change is hard.

And yet. I found myself caught up in this talk about climate action from Galway International Arts Festival and NUI Galway’s #AutumnEdition of First Thought Talks.

There’s a wealth of them to choose from, from Experiences of Racism in Ireland to whether Trump will win again. I’m going to be interspersing them throughout my week, and here’s hoping I feel slightly more aware of the world by the end. Or at least I will have learned something.

All talks are held live, but afterwards available to watch here:First Thought Talks.

Speaking of learning and my constant fear of never knowing everything, at least I have this quick list to reference:

Now just wait right there while I make an order to my local bookshop. This may not all fit on my bike. Always good to have a bit of light reading.

Take me to Galway

I’ve been to Galway a few fair times during my stay in Ireland, and every time, I understand more and more why people go to Galway… and stay there. Although I’m sure things have change since the pandemic began, in my dreams, Galway is still as cute and idyllic as ever. Am I right, friends?

One piece I’d love to experience is Corn Work, by John Gerrard.

I’ve seen a few videos and images of this work, and I’m just struck by its haunting quality, and after “Before You Say Anything”, I’m left thinking about the imprint theatre has on us. The best theatrical experiences for me are still housed somewhere within my body, or perhaps more accurately, my emotional being. They haunt me. My skin vibrates with electricity when they come to mind, my stomach does flips, my heart makes its way into my throat and my head starts to float away from my body. It’s a little like being in love. And I suppose the best loves of our lives will haunt us too.

So before I leave you this week, I want to know:

What show still haunts you?

Take care of yourselves, and as always, take care of each other.

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