Lantern Productions and Reimagine Cork are teaming up to bring a once-off performance of an outdoor play to Skiddy’s Plaza on North Main St as part of Culture Night 2016, Friday September 16th.
‘Skiddy’s Plaza’ will tell the story of a group of friends who meet up one last time in the city before they leave for pastures new.
The historic Skiddy's Plaza will host the play as part of Culture Night 2016
The cast and crew, made up of volunteers and recent drama graduates, will devise the entire production over a four week period before the one-off performance on Culture Night.
Eoin Ó hAnnracháin, who co-wrote and directed the successful ‘Thomas Kent - 1916 Rebel’ and is the artistic director of Lantern Productions, will oversee the production of the play which is being specifically created for Culture Night.
Eoin explains how the collaboration between Lantern Productions and Reimagine Cork, a community group transforming rundown and neglected areas of the city, came about: “A friend of mine, John O’Sullivan, who is very involved with Reimagine Cork, mentioned to me that they had permission to do something with Skiddy’s Plaza and we discussed the possibility of having a performance there.”
“I thought Culture Night would be a good fit with the thinking of Reimagine Cork and the sense of community that it builds”, Eoin continues.
John O’Sullivan, a member of Reimagine Cork, hopes the event will bring people’s attention to what is a very historic part of Cork city and result in people reconnecting with the area which has suffered from dereliction and neglect in recent years.
“Despite the notion of some that Cork is the greatest city in the world, the truth is parts of it have fallen into disrepair and once bustling commercial areas have been abandoned, especially around the historic North Main Street area”, says John.
He continues: “Reimagine Cork was started to counteract this decline by painting unused buildings, putting flower boxes in unsightly areas and painting street murals. After discussing it with Eoin, we resolved that putting on a performance in Skiddy’s Plaza, which is actually owned by the Citizen’s Information Board, would be a perfect way to breathe more vigour into the area and highlight its potential for revitalisation.”
The site was formerly home to Skiddy’s Castle and was built by John Skiddy in the 15th century. In the late 17th century, the building was used as a munitions store after it came into the possession of the Crown authorities. The castle was knocked in the late 1700s but a mantelpiece from the original building was set into the wall at 13 North Main St and can still be seen today.
The play will be created in the Theatre Development Centre which operates in the Triskel Arts Centre on Tobin St. in Cork.
What drew Lantern Productions to this project was the opportunity to work on a devised piece of theatre where the script is worked out following a series of improvisation sessions involving the director Eoin and the cast.
“We use a process that borrows largely from the filmmaker Mike Leigh where he takes real life people that the actors know and uses these as source material for creating characters by talking about them and using improvisation over six months to create a character,” Eoin explains.
Eoin continued: “For our version, we have a chat about people that the actors know and then we narrow it down to three people. From there we work on combining their traits into one character and begin adding stuff on top, like asking what if that person went to university or what if they didn’t go to university, how would these decisions affect the character?”
Standing L to R: Eoin Ó hAnnracháin, Lantern Productions; John O’Sullivan, Reimagine Cork
Sitting L to R: Suzanne Vachet, Fiona Kelly and Orla Kelly-Smith, cast
Previously, Eoin has worked on other devised projects such as “Life Behind the Venue”, where, as part of the performance, the audience was taken on a back stage tour of the Everyman Theatre under the premise of them being trained as ushers.
The cast of his newest project is made up of Fiona Kelly, Orla Kelly-Smith and Suzanne Vachet, who are all recent drama graduates and, along with the crew, are volunteering their time to bring the outdoor performance to life.
The production itself will not be without its challenges. Voice projection, lighting and the lack of a backstage area all pose logistical difficulties and, as with any outdoor event, the weather is beyond the control of organisers.
But for Eoin, these challenges are achievable and the opportunity to get up close with the audience to allow them to be part of the experience is a big plus.
“A large part of the philosophy of Lantern is about making theatre a part of society and this experience speaks to that”, says Eoin.
The event will take place at 8pm on Culture Night, September 16th, and is free to attend. However, spaces are limited so It is recommended that you book in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Culture Night is a national event which celebrates culture, creativity and the arts in cities and towns across the country. For more information and to see the full programme of events visit culturenight.ie.