Blog: Mary Nunan on New Work Commission 2020 – The Hood

Reflective blog written by Mary Nunan about her experience researching The Hood collaboratively with Jo Slade in Belltable Hub as part of the New Work Commission 2020.

Throughout 2019 Jo Slade (poet/visual artist) and I (dance artist) began exploring some ideas (for performance) based on a text that Jo was working on comprising a series of poems, in draft form. The poems use the contemporary ‘hoodie’ as a metaphor to explore such issues as: identity/ anonymity, centre/ periphery, body/not body. As part of our research we were looking at how we could use text and movement improvisations to disrupt fixed meanings attaching to these terms.

The process was long and slow. Because of the complexity of the themes we were exploring we did not want to take any short cuts. Belltable Hub provided a perfect environment for us: a warm, clean, light-filled space with a really reasonable rent. The latter was important because it, literally, afforded us the opportunity to take the time necessary to incubate our ideas. Interestingly, as time went on the room itself (dimensions/sparseness/atmosphere) became a source of inspiration for the work!

In 2020, with support from Limerick City and County Arts Office and a research commission from Belltable we were able to further develop our ideas with support from a mentor.

At the end of August we presented our Research-in-Progress (4 sessions presented over 4 days to an invited audience). The presentations took place in Studio 1. We received really positive and helpful feedback from our audience. So we must go on!

For the next phase, we want to continue to explore our core themes and deepen our research into the content and structure of the emerging work. And we also want to explore some ideas about possible (innovative) performances contexts. We are looking forward to doing this should our application, to the Arts Council, for bursary funding be successful.

Special thanks to Marketa and all the Belltable staff for their support throughout and especially for the care they took with all the Covid protocols. It was a very safe house to be in (poetically and practically) at all times!

Belltable:Connect Commission for SHAM – Paul Meade

Belltable:Connect has been a fantastic experience for me.  Firstly, the commission gave me permission to write the play that I wanted to write.  It was important to be trusted as a playwright in this way.  Secondly, the play was a departure from my previous work and I got the chance to experiment with a more poetic mode.  I feel my writing has really improved through this experiment and Belltable:Connect gave me the time and space to be able to do that.  Thirdly, Belltable:Connect gave me the resources to work with actors on the text for a couple of days.  This resource was invaluable and I learnt a lot about the play from that experience and from the audience that came to see the works in progress.  I would highly recommend this programme with its simple, trusting and well resourced schedule.