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  • Chris ORourke

Dublin Theatre Festival 2018: Home Theatre (Ireland)

Mary O'Driscoll in Home Theatre (Ireland). Image by David Gannon


Multicultural Community Theatre

If communities can be hesitant about coming to theatre, then let’s bring theatre to the community. One of the simple yet profoundly effective ideas that underpin this smart and ambitious project, “Home Theatre (Ireland)” sees thirty people from Dublin 15, working with thirty of Ireland's leading theatre makers, developing thirty short form pieces which they present in their homes, with a selection then transferring to Draíocht, Blanchardstown's stage. With six new pieces being performed each night at Draíocht, Blanchardstown over four successive nights, the transition from sofa to stage on Saturday, October 13 often suggested a three hour, monologue showcase. Yet the personal snapshots that emerged created a fascinating cultural collage, one that gave voice to the diverse experiences that comprise this rich, multicultural community.

In “Home Theatre (Ireland)” community is a stable signifier for something extremely unstable and evolving. Indeed, new beginnings and fresh starts proved to be the unifying theme of all six selected monologues on Saturday, with comings, leavings, and goings featuring prominently throughout. In the joyous, life affirming Yes for Maureen Penrose by Deirdre Kinahan, superbly directed by Claire O’Reilly, a smashing Mary O’Driscoll plays Rose, a sort of Dublin Shirley Valentine, who’s been sleeping with the enemy, now dead, and suddenly finds new friends, and maybe a new lover, when she opens her front door. Chance for Zaida Fernandez, written and performed by a brilliant Clare Barrett, and superbly directed by Louise Lowe, tells of a Spanish woman, with a love of board games, finding her way back into the game of life. A delightful Yellow for Mark O’Reilly, written and performed by Jody O’Neill and beautifully directed by Louise Lowe, follows the lovable, regulated Lizzie through a simple, almost fairytale narrative as she hits the snooze button twice by mistake and finds her whole world changing. The thought provoking Make America Great Again for Donagh Corby, written by Colin Murphy, superbly performed by Gavin Fullam and sharply directed by Cathal Cleary, follows a two time loser journalist and boxer as he cynically expounds on fake news. To Us, From Us, for Natasha Estie, by Jeda de Brí, featuring a superb Ali White, directed by Claire O’Reilly, follows the journeys of a nomadic South African family as they set down roots all over the world. My Daughters, Our Mother for Haleemat Inaoliji, sensitively written and performed by a compelling Dylan Coburn Gray, directed by Annabelle Comyn, rounds out the evening by cleverly making a linguistic, mathematical, and musical argument for a multicultural society by way of a Nigerian woman and her three Irish daughters. Throughout, Coburn Gray struck a charismatic balance between the personal and the political in his touching and thought provoking address.

“Home Theatre (Ireland)” is community theatre at its creative and communal best. Created for, and with, the community, “Home Theatre (Ireland)” gives voice where often there has been none, as well as opening up theatre as a place of engagement and entertainment for all. If six shows presented back to back can make for a long night, it is a night made all the more worthwhile for revealing what is often unnoticed, taken for granted, or misunderstood, in the world we live in. So major kudos to producer, Emer McGowan, and Artistic Director, Veronica Coburn. “Home Theatre (Ireland)” is an exciting way of making exciting new theatre that should be embraced throughout the length and breadth of the country.

“Home Theatre (Ireland)” ran at Draíocht, Blanchardstown as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2018

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