Belltable:Connect Commission for PADDY MCGRATH’S DAUGHTER – Veronica Dyas

Receiving the Belltable:Connect Commission to begin to write my new play “Paddy McGrath’s Daughter” was extremely important to me as an independent artist and one of the highlights of my working year.

This commission created the space for me to be able to write, both physically and financially, enabling me to spend an extended amount of time in Limerick City for research and development towards completing the 1st and 2nd Drafts of this new playtext.

My relationship with Belltable as an Independent Artist working freelance was cultivated through the Gap Day Initiative created by Lian Bell & Mermaid Arts Centre. Having spent two days working in the Artist’s Hub Space at Belltable, Limerick early in 2019, I was able to develop a relationship with the Artistic Director, Marketa Dowling and spend time talking though my work, interests and plans and became more familiar with the team and the physical infrastructure of the theatre. It also served to refamiliarise myself with the city of my maternal Grandfather in the context of my arts practice.  This time spent on Gap Day contributed to my artistic impetus to write “Paddy McGrath’s Daughter”.

Spending an extended amount of time writing in Limerick was crucial to the development of this new play. The Belltable:Connect Commission enabled me to be here, tune into and walk the landscape in my Grandfather’s footsteps and talk to members of our family about him.

This time in the city facilitated the beginning of new relationships with key people and organisations in further developing this work, such as The Hunt Museum and Limerick City Council. Crucial to making work about and in Limerick, was the new connections I made with the amazingly amazing Artists from the city. I can’t imagine another mechanism that would have created those relationships with artists, actors, directors, technicians as cohesively as the presentation evening of these four new plays with and about the Limerick community in November. The evening served to test the work in front of a very warm and generous audience, and provided the lead in time and space to work with two amazing actors, Ann Blake & Pat McGrath who brought this new text to life. Their expertise, as well as that of the rest of the amazing team created a safety and rigour in staging this early draft of a new work.

As an independent artist, working freelance and without regular funding, being commissioned by Belltable:Connect has had a significant impact on my practice, broadening the scope of my relationships, work and enabling me to write a new play for theatre with the physical, financial and artistic resources required to do so. I feel both privileged and grateful to have been supported in this comprehensive way. I look forward to further cultivating all the new relationships generated through this process, and continuing to work to complete “Paddy McGrath’s Daughter”

LOVE & Gratitude

Veronica Dyas

Belltable:Connect Commission for MAM & LOVE & WOO – Liam McCarthy

Belltable: Connect has been an invaluable resource to me as a playwright. The commission has allowed me the time and space (underestimated resources within Ireland’s predominantly unsustainable arts industry) to create a new piece of work. The financial remuneration has allowed me to develop the play while still making rent. As well as the privilege of being offered a commission, which is very reassuring in and of itself, Belltable: Connect has provided professional and personal support to me at all stages of the artistic process – guiding and advising through difficult moments of self-doubt and worry – through more reassuring and positive moments of discovery and learning.

Belltable:Connect commission for Red Army – Helena Close

Author, playwright Helena Close
Author, playwright Helena Close

Marie [Boylan] and I were delighted to receive a Belltable:Connect commission for our play ‘Red Army’ last June. Writers work in a void – we never know if our work will be commissioned or funded. We never know if it will make it onto a stage. Belltable:Connect managed to address both these issues in one fell swoop. We knew that the commissioned plays would be showcased to a public audience in November so we could finesse the script with that in mind. This is the best way to test a script. Prior to the showcase, we worked with the four actors and director for two long and exhausting sessions.

 If the play was a car, then this was the garage, where it went through rigorous testing, adjusting and stripping. This was a brilliant learning process and watching a director (the wonderful Jean McGlynn) at work with the actors was a lesson in itself. Words on a page take on a whole new life when spoken and acted and the script shape-shifted accordingly. Actors ask very tough questions and we needed to be on our toes with the red pen. This was invaluable to us – to have actors, a director, a studio, tech time in preparation for the reading – what an incredible resource for playwrights to have.

The night itself was a great success. It was wonderful to sit in the audience and watch the work of our Limerick peers while we waited for our piece. After the first on cue laughs from the audience, we relaxed and enjoyed our own play (Is that possible?). The audience reaction was excellent. We left the Belltable, determined that the next time we hear our own words, spoken and acted, that it would be the full play. The whole story.