Busy Week

Theatre Week has just begun at NUIG. The first day included rehearsals for two different one act plays (I’m directing one and performing in another), and a performance of The Vagina Monologues.

Yes, V-Day is also upon us again! This year I am helping to raise money for the Galway Rape Crisis Centre. My performance is done, but you can still see the show at NUIG tomorrow at 7.30pm. Tomorrow night I will be seeing Rhinoceros in the Town Hall Theatre. The One Act Play series kicks off on Wednesday and there will be performances at lunchtime and in the evening, Wednesday – Friday. And to round off the week, on Saturday, I’m going to see Carthaginans at the Town Hall. It’s going to be a busy week and I know I will be wreaked by the end of it, but I also know it’s going to be a lot of fun. And because shows are actually opening this week, I think it will be less hectic week than last week.

Last Monday I had four separate rehearsals for three different shows, and a directing workshop with Garry Hynes (which I will write about soon, promise!), and the week continued like that! By the time Saturday rolls around, I will be more than ready for it!

V-Day Retrospective

I was surprised how nervous I felt on the day of the show. I was expecting to feel excited that the day was finally here, but ready for it; maybe not tranquil but reasonably calm. Instead I felt on edge all day, my to do list constantly hoovering at the edge of consciousness and constantly worried that I’d forgotten something. It was a stressed out restlessness that made it hard to get things done.

I arrived at The Sugar Club half an hour later than I intended to after standing at a bus stop for 15 minutes feeling sick with nerves. There was so much to do and so little time and instead of running around getting things done, I had to stand still and wait for a bus!

Once I got there and the cast started arriving and we started getting things done, I relaxed a bit. That was our first day in The Sugar Club, the first time the cast had a chance to get up on stage. There were lots of last minute decisions to be made so people didn’t walk into each other and knew when to sit and stand and speak. It was the first time we got to use the mikes. There was a lot to get through.

Almost as soon as I started to feel calm, it was time to clear out of the space in anticipation of our audience! Suddenly it all felt very real! I spent 40 minutes getting people in, greeting people I knew, checking up on the cast, how many tickets were left, etc. Technically, the show was sold out but most of the tickets were waiting at the door to be collected and paid for. We had a great crowd but we probably could have squeezed a few more in.

Finally, finally, finally the show began and there really was nothing else I could do. I’d done a little bit of directing at university but this was the first time I’d sat with a paying audience, watching a show that I had put together. I was so proud of the cast and the audience really seemed to enjoy themselves, and I enjoyed the show along with them. It was wonderful. I was beaming with happiness from the first word to the last.

It was a great night, everybody I talked to enjoyed it immensely. The cast were all a bit disappointed that we had one night. We probably could have filled The Sugar Club for a second night, at least. It was a great venue and they looked after us very well.

Thanks to our fantastically generous audience we raised $280 for the V-Day project in Haiti and €1732 for Ruhama, on our one night. Thanks also to the hard work of the cast and everyone else involved on the production it was a very successful Dublin V-Day.

V-day minus one

I meant to write a lot more about The Vagina Monologues while we were putting the show together. I wanted to write about the auditions, the fundraising, the rehearsals, but I was too busy to write about it while it was all happening. Now the show is almost here days away and all the tickets are sold. Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll head down the The Sugar Club for some last minute preparations and before we know it, the big night will have arrived! I feel ready and excited and happy and tired.

I wanted to write something before the show because however things go tomorrow night, I am really glad I did this. I’m proud of my cast, who are amazing and have worked really hard, and I’m a little bit proud of myself too.

I had planned to submit an application to the Dublin Fringe Festival last month. I went along to the pre-application talks and workshops and then, about a week before the deadline I got a bad dose of The Fear. It completely paralysed me and meant I couldn’t do anything. I felt untalented and unimaginative. I couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in anything that came out of my brain. As well as doubting my creative abilities, I had no faith in my practical skills. I just didn’t believe I would be able for the work involved. I wouldn’t be able to organise a cast or crew, I wouldn’t be able to sell my show, I wouldn’t even be able to get it to the stage where it was ready to be seen by the general public. I felt I was too old to be submitting work to the festival, too old to be working in the arts at all. This idea of making new things was a young persons game – you needed to be young and optimistic and a little bit native to take that leap of faith and believe that you will be able to cope with the consequences.

Basically I let the little, doubting voice in my head convince me that submitting anything would be a colossal waste of time.

I mention this here because I had all those fears about The Vagina Monologues last January. I was really nervous signing up to do, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to look after all the different aspects involved – finding a venue, fundraising to pay for that venue, auditioning a cast, organising rehearsals and rehearsal space, organising publicity and ticket sales, etc. I wasn’t sure if I was up to it. I was afraid.

I’m not saying the last three months have been easy – they have been really hard work – but I managed to made things happen. And people were kind and supportive and helpful all along the way. I managed to surprise myself and that’s always nice. And once or twice a week, I got to hang out with an amazing group of women.

So maybe I’m not too old after all. In the future, I will ignore the doubting voice and have a little more faith in myself. It’s a lesson I needed to be reminded of, even though it’s one I know and have seen in evidence before. But it was a good reminder and one I will cling to in the future.

Tomorrow will be an exciting night and a happy night and the end of tiring three months that have made me very proud!

Things I’m doing this week

This week I am mostly:

1. Attempting to get the supporting documents for my MA application organised so I can (finally) send them off to Galway. This includes writing a personal statement. Why is it so hard to write 600 words about myself? I should have sent all this stuff off last week but I was waiting for college transcripts from the UK and avoiding my personal statement.

2. Working on this year’s V-Day production of The Vagina Monologues! This should be Number 1 because it’s much more exciting! I am currently casting the show which will be on in The Sugar Club on April 13th. We will be raising money for Ruhama and V-Day and you can expect to hear lots more about that between now and then! If you’d like to get involved, leave a comment or email VDayDublin @ gmail.com. You can also like our Facebook page.

3. Spending lots of time in Project and seeing lots of plays! The Theatre Machine Turns You On, Vol 2 starts tonight! (Project Real Deal – Four plays for €22!) I’m seeing two plays tonight and two or three more at the weekend. I’m hoping to go and see Connected before it finishes this weekend as well.

4. Looking forward to tomorrow’s text class with ATI. First class was last week and I really enjoyed it. It’s made me think a lot about monologues and I’ll try and write down some of those thought here soon!

But for now, it’s back to the dreaded personal statement!

The Vagina Monologues

Last month, I had the immense pleasure of being involved with V-Day for the second time. The first was when I was still studying at Brunel University when I organised a production of The Vagina Monologues with a couple of friends. It was incredibly hard work, especially since I was in third year and trying to do my dissertation at the same time, but we had such a wonderful response from the people who saw it and we raised money for two local women’s charities and it was a wonderful experience.

V-Day is a global movement that works to stop violence against women, by raising awareness and funds. It was set up by Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues and each year, the rights of the play are offered free to college and community theatre groups. Each group can do three nights of the show and all money raised goes to charities that help stop violence against women.

I was thinking about putting on my own Dublin production when I saw the audition notice on Crooked House last November. I was delighted when I got a part in the show. We had our first read-through last December and it was great to hear the monologues again, but so odd to hear them read by different actresses.

I love The Vagina Monologue script. Each monologues are powerful and beautifully written but as well as that, the whole show hangs together so well. When I’m sitting on stage, the whole show seems to fly by because each monologue leads fluidly into the next and before you know it, we in the last ten minutes of the show. There’s a wonderful balance of comedy and tragedy in the script.

This year’s production was not without mishap and complication. The show’s organisers had a lot of trouble finding a venue. It was supposed to happen in Ranalagh but there wasn’t any suitable venue available there, the next place that came up were looking for too much money, which we just didn’t have. Then we found somewhere perfect for the nights we needed, but they lost their theatre license and closed down a week before the show was due to open. And finally we found the Exchange in Temple Bar. They asked for a deposit and 10% of the ticket sales, and in return we got a lovely intimate space with a stage just big enough for 14 women to squeeze onto.

We filled the space on all three nights we were there, with male and female audience members (though mainly female!) and they all enjoyed the show very much. At least they seemed to be enjoying it from where I was sitting!

As well as putting on a great show, we also raised almost €1,500 for charity. Ten percent went to the V-Day spotlight charity which this year was the City of Joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the rest of the money raised went to Ruhama, a Dublin charity that supports women working in the sex industry. They are a very hands on charity.

The City of Joy is a place of refuge for the women and girls of the DCR who have been abused physically and sexually as part of the war in that part of the world. It is a horrendous conflict that has been going on for far too long. If you would like to find out more, there are lots of details on the V-Day website and here is an article from the Guardian by Eve Ensler.

All in all, it was once again a wonderful experience and I definitely plan on begin involved in some sort of V-Day event again next year.