by Lilas Bailey
I spent the week of the 7-11th of February at Fishamble, a theatre company located on Great Denmark Street that focuses on promoting and developing new plays. While I was there I read some previous and upcoming plays that Fishamble were putting on, sat in on table reads and performances and also learnt how the marketing and business side of Fishamble works.
On Monday and Tuesday, I sat in on a read through of a new play called “Whistling against the Wind”, written by Sarah McKenna Dunne. It follows five characters, of different ages, who live in a small village in rural Ireland. It focuses on the secrets and incidents that they cover up for fear of disrupting the social hierarchy in their village. Five actors came in to read for the roles and I had a fantastic time hearing the words on the page come to life, as well as meeting new and interesting people.
On Wednesday and Thursday, I listened to a table read of another play, “untitled elegy play”, written by Andrea Stolowitz. This play was very different to “Whistling in the Wind” in the sense that instead of it being written as conversational dialogue, it was a series of interviews.
These interviews were conducted by students in America who asked people in their lives how they have spent the last two years of living through a pandemic in addition to more philosophical questions about life and death.
It is made so that there five actors, but 14 roles, so that each actor plays 2-3 roles. This was a very interesting concept to me because I had never seen it done before. The interviews from each character were divided up so that one character might speak for a page, then another character played by a different actor would speak.
The actors were lovely and I really enjoyed talking to them about their experiences in the acting industry. It was great to be able to get advice and ask questions that will help me in the future if I pursue a career in acting and theatre.
On Thursday this play was performed at Fishamble for an audience of about 8 or 9 people, including myself. I enjoyed seeing the play put together and preformed all the way through with no stops like there had been during the read through and rehearsal.
On Friday, I read two upcoming plays, “Outrage” by Deirdre Kinahan and “Heaven” by Eugene O’Brien.
“Outrage” was about the Irish Civil War and the affects it had on Irish Citizens. I liked the fact there were only three roles and that they told their story rather than acted it out.
“Heaven” was about a middle-aged couple navigating through their marriage. This play was also written uniquely. There were only two characters and they took turns speaking in monologues, there was no dialogue. It was an unusual way to write a play and I am intrigued to see how it would be staged.
I was also shown a new side of Fishamble, how marketing and business works for them. I learnt how preparations and promotion for a new production usually take place and how posters, flyers, videos, social media and their monthly newsletters are created. It was informative to see how things we have learnt about running businesses in school is put into practice in the real world.
I also read two of their previous plays, “The Treaty” by Colin Murphy and “Duck Duck Goose” by Catríona Daly.
“The Treaty”, as the name suggests, is about the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. I enjoyed it because it gave me a different insight and perspective on the signing of the Treaty and made the characters that we read about in school come to life. I wish we read plays like this in school because I feel that the way Irish History is taught makes it seem boring when in actuality it can be fascinating.
“Duck Duck Goose” is about sexual assault allegations and how this affects a friend group, who do you trust and who do you believe? This play broached the serious and important topic of consent and I think this is another play that could possibly be read in schools.
Overall, this week I read plays that had been previously produced by Fishamble as well as upcoming plays. I sat in on table reads and learnt about what rehearsals are like for actors. I spoke to the actors themselves and found out how they have gotten to where they are now and where they went to college, as well as previous productions, TV series and movies they had been in. Finally, I saw how marketing and things that I have learnt in business class in school are put into practice in real life. I really enjoyed my week here.
I would highly recommend this as work experience to people who are creative and interested in a future career in acting or theatre. Because I was more interested in the performance side of things, I was mainly involved in table reads and rehearsals, but if you are more interested in how the business and marketing side of things works, I'm sure here would also be an excellent place for work experience.
Fishamble: The New Play Company is supported by