We find ourselves living in a time of great change. We know this, we see the seismic shifts happening all across society, nobody has been left untouched by the events of these last few months. The year 2020 will live long in our memory, its outcomes etched in our psyche indelibly. Yet despite this, we have endured, we have adapted, and we hope for a better tomorrow. Continue reading Belltable:Connect 10 Blog – Pius McGrath
In the late 80’s I went to Ballyferriter to Dún An Óir with my Irish class from school. It is my only experience of Irish college and a little different to the normal Gaeltacht experience as I knew my classmates. We had only one class in my school doing honours Irish, I was not in that class and was moved up so I could take honours Irish in the Leaving Cert. I was way behind and while the rest of the class was all A’s and B’s, I was a D at best. But I loved the language. I may not have been up to speed on the Módh Coinnoíollach and the Aimsir Fháistineach but I loved speaking ‘as Gaeilge’ and even though the class was a struggle for me, I did jump to a C in my Leaving Cert exam in honours Irish and I was delighted. Continue reading Belltable:Connect 10 Blog – Maeve McGrath
I’m extremely grateful to Belltable Connect for this bursary, which has allowed me the time to work on developing a one-woman show around life-threatening and life-affirming experiences I had whilst travelling eleven years ago. I collaborated with Terry O’Donovan as dramaturg on this project, building on our professional relationship which began whilst working on Bread not Profits in 2019. Continue reading Belltable:Connect 10 Blog – Georgina Miller
History is a cycle, humans do not change, we’re peasants with iPhones.
I researched a priest, Canon William Kennedy, a bible thumper by all accounts. I wanted to see if his time, 1920s Ireland, was similar to today. Between the war of independence, World War 1 and Irelands civil war, reality was frightening, though the lockdown that we’re experiencing now is luxury when compared to the fear and uncertainty of then.
I applied to this programme with an idea that I thought might be interesting- but on further deliberation, I discovered that the idea was little more than a concept. A concept is a great place to start, but if you are unable to develop your idea further then as a theatre-maker and storyteller it becomes redundant. One of the fundamental attributes of a good theatre maker is the ability to edit your own work and having realising when something isn’t going to work, so I changed my idea. Continue reading Belltable:Connect 10 Blog – Marie Boylan
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
This past September Belltable:Connect began its playwriting club in Belltable Hub, led by artist in residence Katie O’Kelly. The group consists of local Limerick playwrights who discuss work and current projects, share ideas and problems, and try to use their shared knowledge to help each other. Writer Paul McNamara shares his thoughts on participating in the playwriting club.
Being a writer can often be a bit of a lonely job at times. Having the opportunity to share with others and get ideas out of your head in the early stages of the writing process can be of great benefit. Getting to meet with other writers once or twice a month, all of whom are writing and excited about new work, makes the process more sociable and fun.
Using the wealth of experience in the room to overcome any problems is a great resource. Also, helping to solve other people’s problems or discussing different aspects of writing and theatre often inspires new ideas too.
At Belltable:Connect Playwriting Club everyone’s ideas and projects are at different stages of the process. This gives the meetings a sense of variety. One minute the group can be discussing how to fine tune a script getting ready for production, another moment we can be nurturing the seeds of a new idea. Not being stuck in one stage of development makes it all seem much more fluid and enjoyable. (This is also helped by the snacks provided)
Attendance at each meeting is always a little different as theatre people follow the lives of theatre schedules giving a constant flow of new ideas and perspectives. I have gotten the opportunity to get a lot of valuable feedback on my own new play which I am hoping to put on early next year and have gotten great advice from people on different ways to approach certain scenes and characters and ideas for staging.