Between November 2016 and February 2017, Sarah Vargo, Niall Carmody and myself (Martin Kenny), all graduated from our drama Masters at NUIG, moved to Limerick, and looked into the yawning chasm that is adulthood. Theatre was the only constant for us in a swell of change, and we knew that being in the same city with relatively more time than we had previously was the perfect opportunity to really dive into our shared passion. Coming from our different backgrounds, we knew we had something unique to offer and wanted to explore a show that was something only the three of us together could make. Sarah has a former drama undergraduate from the University of Cincinnati, making her incredibly well versed in performance techniques and theatrical structure. Niall is a playwright, focussing on structuring the written word and has a particular interest in the creation of a narrative. And I am particularly interested in movement, dance and performance art – using the body as the main means of communication and focussing on what is common between an audience and the performers. So we knew what we wanted to do and we knew our strengths. But how exactly what it all going to combine?
In looking for that answer, we found the basis of what is currently becoming On Lost Ground, our work-in-progress at Galway Theatre Festival 2017. As we were all going through transitional times in our lives, we found grasping ideas for a show were few and far between. There was such an onslaught of day to day issues to face, the creative influences were being blocked out. Realising this however was the key. In her book The Director Prepares, Anne Bogart talks about the idea of resistance in creating work, and how directly facing difficulty often leads to richer, more nuanced work. We decided that stasis and uncertainty should in fact become the thing that compelled us to create work, rather than being the thing stopping us. And then, Dante came to the rescue once again. (Dante Aligheri that is)
At Galway Theatre Festival 2016, Sonar Theatre presented GHOSTS, a dance theatre piece based on the Inferno section of The Divine Comedy, Dante Aligheri’s epic poem written in the 15th century (you can see images from GHOSTS under Past Shows here on our website). It was not until we started discussing ideas of resistance and stasis that I remembered the second section of Dante’s work was in fact Purgatory. As Dante ascends the mountain of Purgatory, he encounters the seven deadly sins and must purge himself of them in order to ready himself for Heaven. Even in the space of purgatory, Dante is able to move forward due to the fact he faces the forces that have placed him there in the first place. We therefore decided to use the text as an influence on our piece of work to directly tackle the idea of resistance and stasis.
So we have; stasis, uncertainty, multi-disciplinary performance, purgatory and 15th century Italian poetry. Simple, right? These are the base tenets of On Lost Ground – somehow making your way forward when there’s no clear path. In performing the show, each of us will be on stage, re-enacting the moments in our lives that connect to these levels, or cornices, of Purgatory, to discover how they affect us in our current day-to-day lives. In exhuming these memories, we hope to find truths about ourselves or recurring traits that might help us move past, well, the past! Even though they will be individual memories to us, we hope they will resonate with a wider audience, showing our pasts to be a common one, and hopefully too our futures.
Our work-in-progress showing of On Lost Ground is on April 23rd at 3pm in the O’ Donoghue Centre in NUIG. There will be 30 minutes of a showing, followed by 30 minutes of structured feedback from the audience, so please do come along to help us develop this show further. To book your place, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and outline your interest in attending the show. Until then, check out our various social media (facebook: @sonartheatre, Twitter: @sonar_theatre, instagram: sonartheatre) and keep up to date with the development of our show! Until then, thank you from us here at Sonar and we look forward to seeing you in the audience!
Niall, Sarah and Martin