In 2018, I was appointed Theatre Artist in Residence for County Monaghan. This was a part-time posting which extended over 16 months, jointly hosted by Íontas Arts Centre, Castleblayney and the Garage Theatre, Monaghan.
The programme was ambitious, and included a children’s street theatre project; community drama workshops; a commissioned new play; some solo performing, and a street theatre spectacle involving a large group of volunteers and artists.
This page contains a set of resources which, combined, take the visitor through the various strands of the residency. The resources are laid out in 3 formats:
- A colour “brochure” – a downloadable pdf booklet with the full narrative of the residency and several fabulous photos!
- Four sample rough videos of between 2 and 11 minutes in duration. (A further professionally made film of a street arts event is available on request).
- An additional gallery of still photos of the culminating street arts event, “The Streets of JJ Clarke”
I am hoping this page may be of interest to
- other artists or agencies who might be planning a public art project or a residency built around principles of collaboration;
- students of drama (or arts policy) with a particular interest in the interplay between formal theatre and everyday community life;
- and of course the many people in County Monaghan who actually took part!
A detailed study of all the resources here including videos might take 30-40 minutes – but feel free to scan and dip in and out!
1. BOOKLET: MONAGHAN RESIDENCY – THE FULL STORY
A FULL NARRATIVE AND PICTORIAL OVERVIEW OF THE RESIDENCY IS CONTAINED IN THIS BOOKLET (left)
(Click the link under the image on the left to open the booklet in a new tab as a pdf – You can then simply select “Fit Screen” and scroll or you can download the pdf, open it and, using the VIEW menu, select Full Screen)
NOTE: Most of the URL inks within the pdf / booklet will take you back to this page and to the videos below:
2. ACCOMPANYING VIDEOS
In the “Full Story” booklet, there are references to 4 videos, each demonstrating an aspect of the residency. The videos alone do not tell the story …. (videos of performances or workshops seldom do). They are simply additional moving images to illustrate the booklet which provides the backdrop of a residency that ranged from events and workshops with community participants to experiments in my own solo practice. Each piece is introduced here, just below the YouTube still.
The first video clip is simply a 90-second capture of an improvised drama exercise undertaken by a group of adults in The Garage Theatre, as part of the ID/NOW workshop series exploring “Identity” in a modern border community. The movements reflect the group’s chosen themes of “Asylum & Refuge”; “Climate Change & Activism” and “Leadership & Courage”.
The second video is an 11-minute rough, showing some highlights of CABARET AU REVOIR, a one-off evening of song and satire in Castleblayney. I invited a few local artists to join me at short notice, to mark the intended departure of the UK from the European Union on March 31st 2019.
The third catches a moment during my pre-residency research, on April 10th 2018, the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Moved by some impulse and anxious about Brexit, I stepped alone into the empty auditorium at Íontas Arts Centre and performed adapted scenes from my first play, “Hades”. The play was written and premiered in 1998 in response to the Agreement and the challenges and opportunity it represented. (Duration 4 minutes)
The final video here is of a scene from a work in progress called “1980-Something”, an autobiographical piece I was attempting to write. It was presented at a Monaghan Arts Network showcase event in 2018. The video is courtesy of the Network and is ripped from a Facebook stream. The quality (and initial camera angle incl whiskey glass!) are beautifully imperfect! – but it captures the supportive, informal nature of the Network’s evenings where new work and old can be shared in a convivial cabaret atmosphere.
3. GALLERY OF IMAGES – THE STREETS OF JJ CLARKE
As well as these short videos, I am happy to provide on request a 25-minute film, (shot and edited by Steven Larkin), which captures the laid back joy and participatory nature of “The Streets of JJ Clarke”, the grand finale of the residency. 60 volunteers and 200 spectators wandered the streets on Culture Night 2019. to celebrate the legacy of the great Edwardian street photographer JJ Clarke , a native of Castleblayney. (to request video, use contact details here)
For now, this gallery of still images by Joske Slabbers tells the story!
ZONE 1: TIME TRAVEL
The event took place over three zones. In the first, at a car park outside the former home of Dr Clarke, revellers at the “Back to Castleblayney” country music festival were invited to travel back in time. A line dance workshop was magically transformed to recreate a Clarke photo of a line of Blayney residents returning from church past the same spot 110 years earlier!
ZONE 1: TIME TRAVEL
ZONE 2: THE CLARKES TAKE THE TRAIN
The audience was then led by costumed actors to Barney’s Green where the (now defunct) town railway station was re-created by members of Castleblayney Players who performed a short comic play inspired by a famous photo of JJ’s family leaving for holidays to Bundoran.
ZONE 3: THE CULTURE FAIR
At the end of the drama, members of the audience were invited to either board the train (built on a float) or walk along behind it, as it trundled through Muckno Park. On board was touring Edwardian opera star Signore Scoti, who led the “holiday makers” in a few popular opera songs! On arrival, they were greeted by more costumed actors who led them to the final zone, a culture fair inspired by JJ’s famous photo of the goat and sheep market at the same spot a century earlier. (As there were two separate showings of the whole promenade – or “rounds” of the town – some of the images are from the daylight event and some from the later dusk show).