Upstate Theatre Project is committed to facilitating local communities in their endeavours to develop participative drama programmes and mount performances.
- Developing meaningful partnerships with local community organisations
- Jointly developing dramas for performance by non-professional local groups
- Participation in local art and community development networks
- Technical resourcing
- Placing artists / facilitators in residence
- Involvement in cross-border programmes with communities in Northern Ireland
The Drogheda History Plays
Aidan Harney has spent the best part of a year trawling through Drogheda Local Voices’ oral history archive. As a result of his findings we initiated a series of workshops inviting the community to collaborate with artists to investigate methods of bringing the oral history archive to life again. There has been an exciting response to the research workshops initiated during autumn 2010. We have been running three distinct workshops that are looking at different approaches. The lead artists are:
1. Louise Lowe
2. Feidhlim Cannon
3. Paul Hayes & Aidan Harney
1. Louise Lowe developed a physical theatre approach in response to the oral history testimonies. A group of six non-professional performers worked with Louise. The group chose the testimony of Angela Mitchell, a servant in Glenmore House, which was part of the Oldbridge estate. Oldbridge House agreed to grant one-day access to the group to further the research and investigate the potential of the site as performance space. It is anticipated that we will grow the group in the new year if the research phase continues to be successful.
2. Feidlim Cannon began his workshops by discarding the oral history testimonies for the moment and seeking out contemporary oral histories. To this end a series of workshops was organised involving people not usually involved in performance in the community. The response has been extremely positive. Feidlim gives a sense of what he hopes this approach will yield:
'The ambition would be to be involved with a large-scale live performance Project based on the local History of People from Drogheda. The workshop ideas I will look at are: create a theatrical portrait of Drogheda city through the biographies of its residents. I am collaborating with amateur performers using their stories and personalities to create a distinctive performance aesthetic.
My work seeks to explore new forms of performance that challenge traditional ideologies of text based theatre. I am committed to a collaborative process in my approach to theatre making and draw from the skills, experiences and personal histories of the collective to inform the development of the work.’
3. Paul Hayes and Aidan Harney concentrated on exploring the oral history archive as a means to creating ‘faction’ stories in collaboration with their group. The participants are a collective of former Upstate community participants, performers from the local amateur drama scene and professional actors. They met to explore the potential of a number of different oral history testimonies for recreation as a fictional account of the archive.