By Writer in Residence 2018, Philip St John

Directors amaze me. Once rehearsals start, they not only attend to the needs of the cast, design team and (if he is still alive and struggling with the text) the writer, they must also respond to the evolving complexity of the overall theatrical vision. How do they do it? In Behind the Scenes, I’ll be putting this and other questions to Jim Culleton director of Maz and Bricks and the Pat Kinevan trilogy; and to Lynne Parker, director of The Train, and most recently A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In 2010, when I wrote my first play Maxine, dramaturges were still a relative novelty in Irish theatre. Maxine received a script-in-hand performance at a beautiful theatre in Bremerhaven, Germany, and every second person I met over that weekend—in coffee shops, bars, shoe-shops—seemed to be a dramaturge, and each had a different understanding of his or her role. I will be exploring the function of the dramaturge with Fishamble’s Gavin Kostick, who has worked in this capacity on many shows, including a couple of mine.

In 2016, my play, The Sylvia, was translated into Italian and made its debut in Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy. I went over to see the opening night. As I don’t speak Italian, much of my own dialogue was incomprehensible to me. What was most striking, though, was just how different the show looked and sounded compared to the equally excellent production directed by Liam Halligan in Smock Alley in 2013. Liam’s was an intimate, funny piece of muted realism. The Italians’ was a bold, sexy nightmare. Much of the difference between the productions came down to design. Seeing Sylvia in her Dublin costume and her Bologna one, you’d never believe they were the same character. In Dublin we used the electronic music of 70’s Miles Davis; in Italy, a local composer devised creepily splintered show-tunes. In Dublin, the lighting was subtle and functional, in Italy bold and self-conscious. In Behind the Scenes, I’ll be discussing such creative decisions with three of Irelands top designers—Maree Kearns (set/costume), Sinead Diskin (sound) and Sinead McKenna (lighting), who between them have worked on such acclaimed shows as Class, The Snapper, and Alice in Funderland.

In addition, the band Sinead Diskin and Friends will intersperse the conversation with live music from the play Mr Burns: A Post-Electric Nightmare.

A Farmleigh evening not to be missed by anyone with even a passing interest in theatre. And free!

8pm, Friday September 7th