A Holy Show
I recently researched, wrote and designed the show programme for Janet Moran’s A Holy Show – a comedy based on the 1981 hijacking of an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to London by an Australian ex-Trappist monk. His weapon of choice? A bottle of holy water.
The design is drawn from the look of Aer Lingus safety leaflets of the 1980s – when flying was still relatively glamorous and smoking was allowed during taxi, takeoff and landing (and all through the flight).
To set this bizarre event in context, I made a timeline of Ireland in 1981, placing key moments along an airplane evacuation map – events including: the building of Knock Airport; the Maze Hunger Strikes; the manufacture of the first Delorean car in Belfast; and the march-out of the Irish Army’s very first women recruits. This timeline occupied the centre spread of the programme.
Bespoke show programmes are a rare treat, and I love when I get the opportunity to make one. You can see some others I’ve worked on here.
A Holy Show was written and directed by Janet Moran, performed by Catríona Ennis and Patrick Moy, and produced by Mermaid Arts Centre. It premiered as part of Dublin Fringe Festival in the Abbey Theatre (on the Peacock Stage) from 8th-15th September 2018. Janet speaks about the genesis of the show with RTÉ Culture here.
“A show that leaves nothing unconsidered. (Even its show programme, a witty continuation of the performance by Kate Heffernan, is a work of art.)”
The 4th in my series of show programmes for Theatre Lovett went into circulation this week – for the opening of They Called Her Vivaldi and its month-long run at the Abbey Theatre (if you’re reading this before December 23rd, you can book tickets here.)
For this series of special show programmes, I start by sitting down with the script and, with the production design aesthetic in mind, I imagine each world to its fullest.
From this I write a full text before designing it into a programme-sized publication (have a look at the 3 previous programmes here.)
“The Arts Council is committed to supporting emerging artists of promise. One of the ways we do this is through the Next Generation Bursary Award which supports professional artists from across Ireland at an early stage of their career.”
I am proud to have been a recipient of this award for 2017.
With the crucial financial freedom provided by the bursary, as well as the support of Mermaid Arts Centre, I have spent the year immersed in my practice, further developing and finding opportunities to produce Montague, Peat, Dolly, as well as working on the early stages of new ideas.
The award has given me the time and space to find the next stories; to create, dream, plan, test, reflect; to think strategically about the future; to find opportunities, platforms and networks for my work. It has been an incredibly rewarding and fruitful year.
As part of the bursary, I joined 12 other Next Generation artists at a week-long residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig in County Monaghan.
A residential workplace for artists, the centre was founded by the visionary theatre maker William Tyrone Guthrie who, with the advice and encouragement of his family, bequeathed his entire estate and family home to the State with the proviso that it would be used for the benefit of artists.
The bursary recipients came from a wide variety of artistic practices: visual art, music, opera, dance, traditional arts, film, circus, architecture, literature. The week was a mix of working solo on our own projects, sharing work, and a lively and invigorating mix of conversation and debate.
It is difficult to describe how inspiring our time together was. Realising the similarity of experience on our separate journeys – the, highs, lows, costs, crises, risks and rewards – was a deeply galvanising experience.
The working relationships and friendships formed in this week are not something I foresaw, but have become a hugely important part of the year gone by.
Photos by Barry Cronin. Group: pictured L-R stairs; Niamh Campbell, Kate Heffernan, Sean Daly, Tara Kennedy, Leanne McDonagh, Tom Lane, Rouzbeh Rashidi, Laura Fitzgerald, Thomas Johnston, Laura Dowdall. Pictured centre L-R: Darragh McLaughlin, Katie Watchorn, Paul Gaffney.