I’m all out of bubblegum! – Pat Hynes on Belltable:Connect

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

I’ve been into writing since I was a tot. Myself and my pal Pony were always half-trying to outdo each other with tales of derring-do, entertaining ourselves by putting a spin on the dreary “English Composition” exercises we were doled out in National School (i.e. My Dream, or My First DOT DOT DOT). We eventually started to write daft stories without the aid of a prompt, creating whole worlds for our own entertainment. Our stories were peppered with grisly scenes of bloody death, like Rambo on steroids (I suppose it’s no surprise as we both saw First Blood when we were 7). Often the protagonist was alone and found themselves in the midst of a jungle, or a dense forest with jeeploads of sweaty, grimy men emerging from the undergrowth on all sides, bearing ill-will against our hero, mostly just for existing. There was no need to reveal anything about these guys’ inner turmoil; to provide a back-story or explain further would be to obfuscate, we just wanted to get straight into the action. We didn’t get bogged down in the detail, we took our joy in seeing them get bogged down in the muck and jungle.

Flash-forward three decades, and I’m still at it: still producing short stories, but mostly plays and screenplays. They mightn’t be as bloody as the first, but there are still liberal doses of horror and violence to be found in there. As well as telling stories, I’m selling them – flogging books in our bookshop, Scéal Eile Books in Ennis by day, but by night (and on weekends!) I’m writing away.

One of my plays was short-listed for the Eamonn Keane Playwriting Award (Listowel Writers’ Week) earlier this year, and others made the short-list for RTÉ’s PJ O’Connor Award, and the Bruntwood Playwriting Award. I’ve been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival twice in the last decade, once with a company play, and the last time with my own offering Sparks; a one-man show with Darren Killeen, brought over by our own Scéal Eile Productions, set-up by myself and my wife Éibhleann. We very much follow the ethos “Keep on keeping on”. I’m enjoying being part of the Belltable:Connect /Fishamble Mentoring Programme. The best part about this mentorship so far is being given prompts by Gavin Kostick (which are very useful and in stark contrast to my past experience of writing prompts and workshop environments), and being led creatively towards the production of new ideas.

It’s very easy to become lost in a world of ideas when you are working alone outside a group, and sometimes you just need a kick up the arse and someone to tell you to just write the fecking thing and stop procrastinating! Gavin hasn’t given anyone a kick in the arse yet but once he’s over his tennis injury… well let’s hope he’s not out of bubblegum! I’m working on a new play, which will develop throughout this next year as part of the mentorship, aided by the finest selection of biscuits to be found in any theatre, anywhere. Thanks, Belltable!

Theatre Makers 2017 Mentor – Lynne Parker

Lynne Parker
Lynne Parker

Director Lynne Parker is one of the main mentors working with the Theatre Makers 2017 creative ensemble, January to July 2017.

Lynne is Artistic Director and co-founder of Rough Magic. Productions for Rough Magic include: Northern Star, The House Keeper (Irish Times Best New Play 2012), The Critic, Travesties, Peer Gynt, Phaedra, Don Carlos (Irish Times Best Production 2007), The Taming of the Shrew (Best Production 2006), Improbable Frequency (Best Production, Best Director, 2004), Copenhagen (Best Production 2002), Sodome, my love, Three days of Rain, The Sugar Wife, Spokesong, Pentecost, Hidden Charges, Down Onto Blue, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Digging for Fire, Love and a Bottle (Bank of Ireland/Arts Show Award), Danti-Dan, New Morning, I Can’t Get Started, The Way of the World, The Country Wife, Decadence, Top Girls. Most recently the world premieres of Hilary Fannin’s Famished Castle and The Train by Arthur Riordan and Bill Whelan.

Other Theatre includes – Heavenly Bodies (Best Director, 2004), The Sanctuary Lamp, Down the Line, The Trojan Women, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Tartuffe, The Shape of Metal (Abbey Theatre); The Drawer Boy (Galway Arts Festival); Lovers (Druid); Bernard Alba, Me and My Friend (Charabanc); Catchpenny Twist (Tinderbox); Bold Girls (7:84 Scotland); The Shadow of a Gunman (Gate Theatre); The Clearing (Bush Theatre); Playboy of the Western World, Silver Tassie (Almeida Theatre); Playhouse Creatures (Old Vic); Importance of Being Earnest (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Love Me?! (Corn Exchange); Comedy of Errors (RSC); Olga, Shimmer (Traverse Theatre); Only the Lonely (Birmingham Rep); La Voix Humaine (Opera Theatre Company); A Streetcar Named Desire (Opera Ireland); The Drunkard, Benefactors (B*spoke); The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly (The Ark/Theatre Lovett); Macbeth (Lyric Theatre Belfast); The Cunning Little Vixen, Albert Herring (RIAM). Most recently, Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf (Tron Theatre, Glasgow) Stewart Parker’s Northern Star and The Provoked Wife by John Vanbrugh (The Lir Academy).

She was an Associate Artist of Charabanc Theatre Company. Lynne was awarded the Irish Times Special Tribute Award in 2008 and an Honorary Doctorate by Trinity College Dublin in 2010.

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.