It was around this time last year that I first heard about Blue Raincoat. The director of the company, Niall Henry was one of our Friday speakers in Galway. He gave an interesting talk about the early days of setting up the company and keeping it going as members grew older and started having mortgages and children. This was also the first time I heard about corporeal mime which is the performance technique that Blue Raincoat are most invested in. I don’t think it’s strictly the “Blue Raincoat style” because not everyone who they perform with is trained in this technique but the founding members are and it’s kind of their big thing. All the actors have been trained in a performance style that is very physical and on stage you can see this training come through in their precision of movement and general physicality of the performance.
I saw my first Blue Raincoat production last spring when Rhinoceros came to the Town Hall Theatre in Galway. (I wrote about it for Reviewing class but not for this site.) I liked the show a lot. I thought the free-wheeling playing style of the company fitted beautifully with Ionesco’ surreal script.
The Poor Mouth is another surreal script. It was adapted for the company by Jocelyn Clarke, but he has left Flann O’Brien’s surreal stamp on it. The narrative voice of Bónapárt Ó Cúnasa is left intact, as is the strange world of Corkadoragha, in all it’s damp misery. Bónapárt is played by Ruth Lehane and her simple storytelling style is at the heart of the piece, while the rest of cast switch between a large collection of characters, including a couple of pigs and a cow. It’s almost a collection of short stories and some of the set pieces work better than others. The skill of the cast is still enjoyable to watch and the language is both weird and wonderful. As is the set, which is a large sloped map with small houses clinging to the coastline.
Blue Raincoat are running workshops in January, in voice and mime. They will be held in their performance space in Sligo, the Factory. We went there for a weekend of workshops with college and it’s a beautiful space. We only did two sessions of corporeal mime, with is barely enough to scratch the surface. It’s a very full-on discipline. They are offering one week of mime and/or one week or voice training for €100 a week. I know a few people who did it last year and found it useful and enjoyable but also very hard work. There are more details here.