The Dubliners Dilemma returns for Bloomsweek

copy old man

I am delighted that I will be performing my one-man show based on James Joyce’s ‘Dublliners’ at Bewleys’ Cafe Theatre, Grafton Street, Dublin, lunchtimes from June 10th – June 22nd (including a special performance on Sunday 16th June, Bloomsday itself).  To open a new window into the Bewleys website for more info on the show and booking click here.

The Road to Hell has been great fun!!!

The work explores the hidden histories usually omitted when The Battle of the Boyne is commemorated (and 'celebrated'!). Here a mother tries to comfort her embittered sone, former sporting hero Jack, now permanently disabled by his war injuries.
Rehearsing ‘The Road to Hell’ A mother cares for her war-wounded son.  The work presents the unwritten stories behind this iconic battle, one of a number of brutal historical events which are still  ‘celebrated’ in Ireland.

The Road to Hell (The Story of the Battle of the Boyne) is the title of an original script devised and written by members of Creative Spark drama and creative writing group in Dundalk.  The members will give a platform presentation in the Oriel Centre, Dundalk Gaol at 6pm, this Sunday May 19th. Facilitator/Director is Kwasie Boyce: while I have been Resident Writer/Script Supervisor.

A ‘platform presentation’ is something a bit more than a staged reading but a bit less than a full-blooded, costumed production.  The aim of the event is to share with the public the outcomes of this 12-week introductory community drama and local history programme.  Our hope is that the performance will be entertaining of itself and will give friends and interested guests an insight into an intensive process which brought together a fabulously diverse group of people of varying ages and backgrounds from the communities of Dundalk.

The script was devised, written and rehearsed by the participants over the 3-month period during which they received basic drama and creative writing training.  The group attended a one-day workshop on the history of the Battle of the Boyne, facilitated by local historian Sean Collins, which included a guided tour of The Battle of the Boyne site at Oldbridge House.  Following this, the participants began to improvise scenarios and movement set pieces, facilitated by Kwasie, and then to write scenes. Kwasie and I have now collaborated with the members on finalising a script structure and performance method.

All involved, including the facilitating artists, the organisers and the participants themselves, have greatly enjoyed the experience.  The project has illustrated how the creative arts can foster friendships across cultures; open up dialogue about disputed histories and ensure that the vital process of lifelong learning is one of excitement and fun.

I urge anyone living in or near Dundalk, and those further afield with an interest in community-engaged art, to get along on Sunday to witness this uplifting event.  The Road to Hell is a grim title and the Battle of the Boyne (and even more so the subsequent and seldom remembered Battle of Aughrim) are grim events whose repercussions are still felt, 300 years later on our fraught small island – but the work itself is full of life and zest and even some sardonic humour – and the making of it has been a tremendous joy!

UPDATE:  The showing promoted above went ahead and was a great success.  The project was revived and the play further developed in 2014 and then toured to Orange Halls and a Presbyterian church in Northern Ireland.  That remarkable trip is mentioned in my end-of-year reflection for 2014.  You can read it here.

The Hijabi Monologues (Ireland)

The Hijabi Monolgoues
The Hijabi Monolgoues

A retrospective entry…   I was delighted to direct The Hijabi Monologues, Ireland recently.  This project was co-hosted by the British Council, the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) and Axis Community Arts Centre in Ballymun where the event premiered. The show ran in Dublin in March and was seen again in October at the Belfast Festival and most recently, in abridged form, at the WOW (Women of the World) festival as part of Derry/Londonderry City of Culture 2013.

The Hijabi Monologues Ireland is a licensed production of the US ‘Hijabi Monologues’, which has been touring in the United States to critical acclaim and great success for the past six years. For this version, Muslim women in Ireland were invited to submit personal and true stories. The writers worked with playwright Deirdre Kinehan and their testimonies were woven into a performance which also included several of the original American monologues by Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah, founder of the program, as well as other American Muslim writers. The piece transcended boundaries, and the stories which ranged from the humorous to the poignant were accessible to all and universal in their reach.

When I was asked to come in and work on the final phase of the show (which had been 18 months in development), I knew a little but not a lot about Muslims in Ireland and internationally.  The purpose of the project was to focus on the woman not the apparel about which there has been much debate in recent times – a great deal of it misinformed. I learned an awful lot in a short period about this complex subject, but mainly I was reminded that cultural differences are usually simply that – cultural differences, not fundamental differences.  I met brilliant people from Ireland, Britain, Pakistan, Holland, Iraq and many other places.  I worked with a terrific cast – Maeve Fitzgerald, Yameema Mitha and Orla McGovern and a great producer, Niamh NiChonchubhair (as well as the fabulous Marella and Joe in production). 

Ireland was chosen as the first European country to host its own version of this global project. Versions will soon be presented in the Netherlands and in Britain with British Council support. It was an unexpected privilege to work on this particular project. I didn’t know in January this year I would be directing this show – I am now the richer for doing it!

The British Council commissioned a short film documenting aspects of the process and their website has a link to this record.

Hilary Fannin writing in The Irish Times in April about her thoughts on the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath made very positive mention of the Ballymun production.  Here is a link to her article.

CONNECT / MAKE MAGIC – How to Book

CONNECT / MAKE MAGIC – How to Book

With Declan Gorman

Booking is still open for the Weekend Drama workshop at The Barbican Centre, Drogheda this Friday & Saturday 9th and 10th Feb (10.30 – 5.30 daily – but with some flexibility if needed)

All you need to do is confirm by texting or phoning me (086-3615585) or by e-mail (declangorman@yahoo.co.uk) or find me on facebook and message me there, giving your name and indicating if you will be paying the full 60 euro or if you are eligible for the concession (50 euro – OAP/Job-Seeker/Student).  Booking remains open until Friday 8th at 12.00 noon, but confirmation before that is greatly appreciated as it helps in planning.

Please wear loose comfortable clothing (ideally tracksuit / ski-pants etc., type of gear) and suitable footwear (runners, soft shoes etc), as there will be a some moving around involved!

Offering friendly advice...
See? Magic?  An invisible conductor’s baton!!!

A REMINDER OF WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT:

 Aimed at non-professionals and professionals alike: (actors, writers, directors, teachers – aspiring, mid-career, enthusiast – pick your label….) and open to serious newcomers – this 2013 workshop series is aimed at all who love to perform, to create and make meaning together through theatre.

Over two intensive days, you can expect to:

– Connect with a diverse group of like-minded theatre-makers

– Learn new performing skills, exercises, games etc

– Improvise and devise scenes through dialogue and movement

– Engage in creative writing

– Develop skills in creating character and narrative

– Create new work

Declan Gorman to return to the stage? … No … Not possible…

The rumours are true… I shall return to the stage after an absence of …. some… years this July. Bachelors Walk Productions are planning to present my new one-man show The Dubliners Dilemma, adapted from James Joyce, as a lunchtime event, opening July 2nd. ,

The venue will be the new City Arts premises, No 15 Bachelors Walk. Watch out for Facebook postings, text alerts etc re info and booking details. For now, make a mental note …

…I MUST GO AND SEE DECLAN’S JOYCE SHOW DURING JULY.

For more information, go to http://www.bachelorswalk.wordpress.com

Delighted to be returning to NYU… Dublin!

Off-Campus: A site-specific workshop with NYU students, with fellow teacher Bisi Adigun: Cooley Mountains 2007

Graduate students of drama at the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Humanities will return to the Trinity College Dublin campus from July 22nd to August 11th this year to pursue intensive study in Applied and Community-Engaged Theatre. 

I am delighted to join the programme as a teacher and director once again.  This will be my seventh year associated with the programme, which is part of a triangle of Study Abroad opportunities that also sees some of these students spend three weeks pursuing Theatre-in-Education in London and thereafter proceeding to Rio to learn Theatre of the Oppressed methods under direction of members of the late Augusto Boal’s troupe. 

It is always challenging and refreshing to work with the NYU students and with my fellow Irish and American colleagues on the summer program.  Bring it on!

Border Chronicles now Available to Puchase Online

Following a brief technical delay, the (three!!!) plays that make up The Border Chronicles Trilogy are now available to download from the PLAYOGRAPHYIreland website at their standard purcahse fee of 20 euro per script.  To go directly to the relevant pages, click here: http://irishplayography.com/search-simple.aspx?playtitle=&authorfirstnames=Declan&authorsurname=Gorman&includeirishlanguage=true

The trilogy comprises Hades (premiered 1998); Epic (2001) and At Peace(2007).  Drawing from mythologies of Greece, Ireland, West Africa and the Baltic region, each of these plays was devised, written, and set within the year in which it was premiered.  As such, these dramas were an attempt to present a contemporaneous, live  chronicle of borderlands life as the major political events of a decade unfolded, while at the same time avoiding didactic realism by drawing from the surreal anarchy of ancient shapeshifting myth and lore.

PLAYOGRAPHYIreland comprises two comprehensive online searchable databases and catalogues: Irish Playography (all new Irish plays produced in English since the formation of the National Theatre in 1904) and Playography na Gaeilge (all new Irish plays produced in Irish since 1975).

The texts of The Border Chronicles have not previously been published or available to a general readership, although sample extracts can be read on this website and anyone wishing to find out more can contact me at declangorman@yahoo.co.uk.

Contact me for short-term services…

Do you run an organisation that needs some short-term creative advice, leadership or teaching input?

As well as pursuing my own writing and directing projects (to which this website is mainly dedicated) I run an occasional freelance ARTS-CONSULTANCY service, i.e. providing advices or leading hands-on projects for other artists, arts organisations, colleges or community groups.

I am currently (Spring 2012) taking on new projects of varying types and duration and am open to hearing of opportunities in the arts, educational and community sectors – preferably (though not exclusively) of a short-term or part-time nature.

Offering friendly advice...

This link DeclanGormanArtsServices will take you to a PDF document which suggests diverse areas where I may be able to contribute to organisations’ and individuals’ needs. I am open to any adventure, large or minute, and looking forward in these coming months to combining my own creative work with assisting others in theirs.

Meantime, if you are a new visitor, I hope you have an  opportunity to browse through the website generally, set up last Spring and recently updated.  Click here to go to the home page.

Declan G.

Typewriter: The Month’s Mind

A few friends (OK… two…) have asked if I might make available my performance piece entered for the Flat Lake slam exactly one month ago on the theme, “The Typewriter is Dead, Long Live the Typewriter”.  Ir seems the last factory in the world producing typewriters finally ceased production in May of this year, in India.  There were several terrific poems and performances on the theme.  The event was compered by the fabulous Gombeens of Galway (the new Marx Bothers) and judged by three children under the age of ten, with the top prize of seventeen million euro going to two charming children (unrelated to the judges) from North County Monaghan.  The victors were joined onstage for their acceptance speech by their four year old cousin whose rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was – for most people there – the highlight of a memorable festival.  In all, upwards of 197 poets performed in the slam, so I was very proud to come almost second (according to Jonathan and Migel of the Gombeens – the placings were never made public…).  My poem was inspired by the presence at the festival of the eminent author Anthony Cronin.  It is called, “Dead as Doornails” and you can read it (preferably aloud) here… 

Still floating on the Flat Lake

As usual, the annual Flat Lake Festival has restored my soul for another few months!

Thanks to various friends for texts and messages of well wishing for my first reading from the novel-in-progress.  It went well.  Sadly, Rosita with whom I was due to read had to cancel at the last moment.   As I now had extra time, I was delighted to ask Sharon to join me for part of the presentation (that’s Sharon Cromwell – actress – my partner) and we read a short story for multiple voices together.  This is a link to yesterday’s Irish Times colour piece about the Flat Lake Festival.  My rather emotional Facebook response of last night (which took up 3 postings, now that FB has restricted its word count to 420 characters…) ran:

“(the review) kinda gets it… but doesn’t quite capture the sense of homecoming, the bumping into dozens and scores of people you went to school with, who taught you at school, who you taught, who saw a play you were in, who were in a play you saw, who were in a play with you, who you have admired since you started reading, whose work you only discovered a few weeks ago, whose work you only discovered when you sat and listened to them today in the barn, about whom you were WRONG all along…, the hilarity of barbecuing an Irish fry-up breakfast in the bucketing rain, the utter joy of watching Sam Shepard serenely singing and playing with lads you drink with in Drogheda, the reminder that Aaron Monaghan is the exceptional actor of his generation… the inimitable
Gombeens, the dyke with the bike (what a poem!), the disco phone box (Tom Canning apparently preserved in aspic since I last saw him c.1979).  If you want to understand Cavan/Monaghan, or the impossible concept of a local, down-home, rustic culture that survives globalisation by riding it, gliding on it, staying one step ahead of it by borrowing brazenly from it, book now for next year’s Flat Lake…