Theatre Makers 2017 Mentor – Deirdre Kinahan

Playwright, writer and actor Deirdre Kinahan. Photo: Barry Cronin
Photo: Barry Cronin

Theatre Makers 2017 will have two main mentors, working with the creative ensemble January to July 2017, playwright Deirdre Kinahan and director Lynne Parker.

Deirdre is actively involved in the Irish Theatre Sector both as Playwright and Producer.  She is a member of Aosdána and currently sits on the Abbey Board (Ireland’s National Theatre) and on the Stewart Parker Trust advisory committee whose mission is to encourage new writing for the stage. Her work is translated into many languages and produced regularly both in Ireland and on the International stage.  2016 saw productions of Deirdre’s plays in Chicago, New York, Washington, London, Warsaw and Ireland.  Deirdre is published by Nick Hern Books.

Deirdre’s latest play Wild Sky, commissioned by Meath County Council Arts Office  is written in commemoration of events  leading up to the 1916 Irish Rising and premiered in Spring 2016 at various venues Ireland and the US.

Deirdre is currently under commission to The Old Vic Theatre (London), Manhattan Theatre Club (New York), Fishamble: The New Play Company (Ireland), with numerous other theatre projects in development.

Deirdre has written for The Royal Court and Bush Theatre London, Fishamble: The New Play Company, Abbey Theatre, Civic Theatre, Project Arts Centre, Tall Tales and Livin Dred in Ireland. Her plays include: Wild Sky, Spinning, Halcyon Days, Bogboy, Moment, Hue & Cry, Melody,  Maisy Daly’s Rainbow. For Radio, she has written: Bogboy (RTE) and A Bag on Ballyfinch Place (BBC).

Deirdre has won numerous playwriting awards most notably The Scotsman’s Fringe First for Halcyon Days in 2013 and the Tony Doyle Bursary with BBC Northern Ireland in 2009.  She is the recipient of the Jim McNaughton Tilestyle Bursary 2013,  A Peggy Ramsay Award 2014 and Arts Council of Ireland Commission Award 2015. She is represented by Curtis Brown London and The Gersh Agency, New York.

First Playwright Session of Mentoring Programme

BelltableConnect Fishamble Mentoring Programme, photo by Ken Coleman
BelltableConnect Fishamble Mentoring Programme, photo by Ken Coleman

Niall Carmody is a playwright originally from Limerick who now lives and works in Galway. He is a recent graduate of NUIG and is currently working on a set of original plays. Here he writes about the first session of Belltable:Connect Fishamble Mentoring Programme for Playwrights and Directors:

‘The first session of our Belltable:Connect programme filled me with the same nervous excitement of the first day of school. Arriving at the Belltable in Limerick City I met the other participants. Over tea and coffee we introduced ourselves and talked about expectations and hopes for the programme. An overview of the history of the Belltable:Connect programme was given to the group by Marketa Dowling, the Belltable Programme Manager. We were introduced to Gavin Kostick and Jim Culleton of Fishamble and split into our appropriate groups; Directors with Jim, Playwrights with Gavin. We made our way to the playwrights room and immediately got down to business. Gavin explained each session would be composed of three parts. Firstly we would discuss the plays we would be given to read for each session. Secondly we would discuss our task to be submitted to Gavin for the upcoming month (covering themes surrounding the plays discussed in the class). Thirdly each week four writers would present an idea they have to the group for feedback. These ideas could come in the shape of a script or presentation or simply a brain storming session.

For our first session we discussed the plays Woman and the Scarecrow by Marina Carr and Swing by Steve Blount, Peter Daly, Gavin Kostick and Janet Moran. The two plays chosen contrast greatly as Swing is a devised piece full of movement and dance whereas Woman and the Scarecrow is a stiller play with emphasis on dialogue and conversation. The two plays highlighted contrasting styles of writing and theatre making as one play is a solo work while the other is devised by four different artists. Next we examined the opening of Antigone which highlights the epic elements of Greek Tragedy. The contrast between the opening of Antigone and Swing lead to our first task for the next session. We are each to write an opening to a play and send them to Gavin of discussion in our next session. Four members of the group also put themselves forward to present an individual idea of the next session. From the first session I can see the programme being an interesting ten months full of writing, discussion, and collaboration.’

Start of Mentoring Programme for Playwrights and Directors

Belltable:Connect Fishamble Mentoring Programme-photo by Ken Coleman
Belltable:Connect Fishamble Mentoring Programme – photo by Ken Coleman

On September 24th, 2016, we welcomed Jim Culleton and Gavin Kostick of Fishamble: The New Play Company to Belltable:Connect. Jim and Gavin lead the 10-month Mentoring Programme for Playwrights and Directors. Limerick-based director Ann Blake here shares her experience of the first session:

‘At the early time of 10am on Saturday September 24th, the Belltable foyer was unusually abuzz. Mentee directors and playwrights gathered, were furnished with coffee and pastries – quite welcome to those who had to be up early to travel I’d imagine – and got ready to start the mentorship venture, Belltable:Connect in association with Fishamble Theatre Company. Having been welcomed by Marketa Dowling of the Belltable, we split into our respective disciplines, directors with Jim Culleton and playwrights with Gavin Kostick and headed upstairs to the Arts Hub.

In the directors’ room I saw faces I recognised amongst the many I didn’t. It became clear, as each person was introduced, that this was a diverse group of directors of varying ages, backgrounds and hometowns. We got to know each other, explored ideas of what a play actually was and soon found ourselves at our coffee break. That funny ‘first day at school’ feeling where you want to get to know the people you don’t know took hold. Being Ireland and the very small community that is Irish theatre, it wasn’t surprising to find I had friends in common with a quite a few of the participants.

By the end of the day some of us had had an opportunity to share concerns about projects we were working on and tap into the hive mind available to us as well as offer our thoughts on work others were looking for ideas and/or support around. As I’m starting directing a show this week, this was good timing for me and particularly helpful.

In a lovely turn of events I went online yesterday and saw that one of the projects discussed, Halflight, won the First Fortnight Award in The Tiger Dublin Fringe – congrats Molly!’

Ann is a theatre director and lives and works in Limerick. Her most recent work is The Crucible with BA in Contemporary Applied Theatre in Mary Immaculate College, she is currently working on Cars Production with UL Drama Society.

Welcome to Belltable:Connect

Hello and welcome to our website. Here you can find out all about Belltable:Connect, about what happens in the Belltable Arts Hub on 69 O’Connell Street, Limerick City. We will be posting images and news from the varied events and programmes going on in the building.