Tag Archives: Grace Dyas

The Peacock Theatre: The Ireland Trilogy

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THEATREclub, without any doubt, is one of those theatre companies that is not afraid to create some truly thought-provoking, relevant and challenging plays that aim not only to entertain but to make people want to take action. The company takes some of the most controversial (often frowned upon by the rest) topics and makes a performance out of it. A performance that can easily be described as naturalistic and close to the real life. As a matter of fact, some of their productions are on such a thin line between the imaginary world and the reality that it becomes difficult to differentiate wether it’s all still just a game. The actors use their own names, they easily and eagerly interact with the audience and make the script come from their heart.

Having been to other productions by THEATREclub, I was somewhat prepared for the trilogy. Well, at least I thought I was. I knew well that I was going to see three pieces about possibly shocking but truthful reality, about what’s going on behind the closed doors and shut mouthes, about what is not only not being talked about but is being ignored and willingly forgotten by many. The company is famous for its thorough research process, for devising their plays inside the company and for the deep belief that a change is always possible. I was ready to be challenged. I was ready to see the real Ireland.

The Ireland Trilogy consists of three plays: The Family, Heroine and History. All of them are played by the same core ensemble of actors and directed by the company’s very own Grace Dyas.

The Family, just like the title suggests, peeks on the life of an ordinary Irish family. Here we have everything from: unrequited love to fathers and sons battles, to a relative leaving for America, to the fact that a family doesn’t exist as a family anymore, it’s just a bunch of cohabiting people who can’t or don’t want to listen, to understand and to support each other. All this is set in a freshly painted cardboard house with the romantic Andy Williams songs playing in the background. A beautifully wrapped glossy candy that is slightly rotten on the inside.

This piece strikes from the beginning as the characters acknowledge the audience’s existence straight away and even keep track of the “show time”. We become part of the play. What’s happening on stage isn’t happening to some faceless fictional “them”. It’s happening to our relatives, to our friends, to our neighbours… Sometimes, it’s even happening to us. The sound of a million voices, all shouting, screaming, whispering at the same time, makes it difficult to make out the words and sentences but impossible not to try to. All we have to do is just listen.

Heroine takes a look at the abuse of illegal drugs in Ireland for the last half of the century. A very beautifully composed piece with elements of poetry, spoken word and nostalgia for the good olden days. Heroine has a totally different feel to it as opposed to The Family. From the pink cotton candy fifties, we move to the cool, leather-jacketed, edgy seventies of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. The children of yesterday have grown up. They live in shabby apartments with their questionable friends, where they pump up hard drugs down the pulsing veins and watch trash TV programmes all day long. They don’t care about the future or the world. All those bad things happening around, they are not happening.

This piece particularly stands out because of the emotional delivery. The ensemble gives a heartbreaking performance of three broken – completely lost and drug dependent – souls.

History is the last part in The Ireland Trilogy. When one starts talking about the history of Ireland, the first thing that springs into mind is, of course, The Civil War, The Revolution, DeV and Michael Collins, the conflict between the Republic and Northern Ireland. History is indeed written by the winners. It’s also written by a selected group of the elite. People, common folks like you and me, unfortunately do not write the history. At least, not the one that will be composed into a book and studied by generations onwards.

And that’s exactly what’s on THEATREclub’s agenda: to show to the public the real history of Ireland (who deep inside is a beautiful ginger girl wearing an emerald green dress), the life of the other half, without sugarcoating or overdramatizing anything. History mainly looks on the historical importance of Richmond Barracks, where the British Army was homed during the Civil War; Goldenbridge Church that once used to be one of the infamous laundries housing unmarried and unwanted young mothers-to-be; and finally on the long tragic sixteen years of regeneration of Dublin’s St Michael’s Estate, that was built to fight the housing crisis of the 60s.

Originally built in 1969, the estate fell in to such a decay that by the end of the 80s  a survey was conducted amongst its inhabitants on what to do with the site. The absolute majority of the tenants preferred it to be completely demolished and rebuilt rather than refurbished. It will take the government sixteen long years to put an end to the inhuman living conditions of Inchicore’s council flats. The government has forgotten about these people, if it ever remembered about them in the first place. Even the statue of Virgin Mary erected on the premises felt like she had failed her devoted worshipers.

THEATREclub looks at modern Ireland through the spectacle of equality, with the broad meaning of this word. All people are equal and all of them deserve equal treatment and promise of a better – fairer – future therefore everybody’s story is important, everybody’s story is relevant and deserves to be heard. For more info about the plays and the company’s work: http://www.theatreclub.ie/our-work/

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Filed under Heroine, history, The Family, The Ireland Trilogy, The Peacock Theatre, THEATREclub, Uncategorized

Project Arts Center: The Game (Dublin Theatre Festival 2015)

“We are here to help. We are not enjoying this but we will pretend that we do. It didn’t happen to me, it happened to somebody else.”

Would you dare to play The Game?

Don’t answer just yet. I’ll ask the same question after the review.

When a theatre company has a very specific and unique style, when it dares you to come and look into the bare boned face of the truth, when it challenges you, when it makes you uncomfortable, when it discusses big-scale problems of a small country, when it tries to find a solution, an answer, a response… then you know you are about to watch a play by the THEATREclub Company.

Another great thing about this theatre company is that it doesn’t only invite you to come a see a play, but it also allows (even needs) you to be a part of the their piece. THEATREclub works with real people and their plays are based on real life experiences. THEATREclub gives you a unique chance of experiencing something tragic and urgent without the big trauma.

The Game is a great example of such a play. It’s a devised work between Gemma Collins, Lauren Larkin (both of whom are on stage), Grace Dyas (directing) and “women currently employed as sex workers and those who have exited prostitution.” 

The play is presented as a live game show. There are five male volunteers on stage who agreed to participate. Absolutely any member of either the play or the audience can leave and come back (if they feel like it) at any point during the performance. And believe me, it’s a very comforting thought when you get to experience the process of The Game. This play does challenge in a way that no other play has ever challenged you before.

It’s important to remember that there are things that just need to be said out loud. You might not like them, you might not want to hear them, you might easily be getting overwhelmed with the information the actors are giving you, so take care of yourself. The actors on stage will guide you. But they will need you just as much as you will need them.

In their turns, each actress picks one of the volunteers and they re-enact a story that happened in real life. “It didn’t happen to them, but it did happen to somebody else.” The volunteers do not know the stories, they are being directed by the girls. Each story is different. Each story happened to a different person and had different consequences. All the stories have only one thing in common: all those girls (ex or current prostitutes) have been victims or violence, rape, ill treatment.

There are people out there who go on about their day, have families and jobs and, at the end of the day, they pull over at some dirty dark alley to get cheap sex from a desperate underaged girl. These men’s culture, background, morales would let them go ahead with the deal, but they would never even question why she is there, why she is doing what she’s doing, why nobody would stop her?

Why nobody would stop her? Why nobody cares? 

In different countries different rules apply when it comes to sex. How far can you go? How far would the law allow you to go without being punished? How far would the law go to protect the weak and the vulnerable ones? Why in one country you would be allowed to have sex with a newborn and in another country you would be a criminal by handing a sum of money to a prostitute even before anything happened?

A few weeks ago I already saw a play that touched the very same issue but in a different context. I said it then and want to repeat it now: it’s great to be able to live in a country where sex isn’t a taboo anymore. That’s why it’s so important to go and support plays like this. If we don’t want to do it for the sake of art, then we shall definitely do it for the sake of a better future where a problem can be acknowledged and dealt with, instead of being ignored and frowned upon.

So, I’m asking you one more time: Would you dare to play The Game? Remember: “you are there to help. And you are helping.” 

Catch this outstanding performance before it ends on October 11th. For more info or to book tickets: http://projectartscentre.ie/event/game/ 

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Filed under Dublin Theatre Festival 2015, Project Arts Center, The Game, THEATREclub