What a shame

Written by Tania Carlisle and presented by Stephen Beggs

Hello, my name is Stephen Beggs and I have very, very kindly offered to present on behalf of Tania Carlisle who unfortunately couldn’t be here today (she’s told me to say that). 

This is a call to action.

Autism is a significant and complex life-long condition.

Generally speaking autistic people experience difficulties mostly with social interaction, social communication and social imagination. These key areas are the foundations of the performing arts – they are what we do. Drama and theatre have much to offer individuals with autism, no surprise to us I’m sure, however there is still much we can do to improve access for those with this invisible disability.

Tania’s Masters dissertation looked at Drama and Theatre Activity in NI for Children with ASD and it highlighted 8 key areas that beg further attention.  But one stood out as the immediate, ‘go to first’ area: Raising awareness and understanding within the sector.  Us learning about autism and reflecting on what we do here.

So, maybe we could look at how our approaches best meet the needs of Audience Members with autism and their families, like:

What makes a good relaxed performance?

How can we make theatre performances, and theatre-going more autism friendly?

What is working elsewhere that we can adopt?

Also - let’s spend time looking at how we can better meet the needs of people with autism who want to Participate, whether because its for fun, or for personal development, or because they want to develop a professional career in the arts. What are other people trying in these areas?

The call to action is this:

Can we have a day – just one day - to learn together, to share experiences, to showcase the excellent work that is already happening, and to try and make best practice not just common practice, but standard practice?

If you’re interested, please, get in touch.

Contact: tania.carlisle1@virginmedia.com 

Shining Light

Written and presented by Saoirse Anton

Imagine we are all sitting in Heuston Station and everyone starts to laugh at something, probably a pigeon doing something ridiculous, since the pigeons are, after all one of the most amusing things in Heuston, second only to the people who, Supermacs balanced in one hand, luggage in the other and ticket between their teeth are confronted by the ticket barriers and have to decide which item the are willing to relinquish their hold on to get through, resulting in the ridiculous chips? bag? chips? ticket? dance as a queue builds behind them. Yes, I have been that person.  

Anyway, this seems off topic, but just imagine that: we are all in the station laughing together. It’s these moments, the people dancing with buskers, the airports applauding proposals, that we see shared on Facebook describing how that made someone’s day, restored their faith in humanity, how everyone should watch to share in the happiness of the people in the video. 

Now think of my moment of Heuston station pantomime, or the last time you went to a comedy, musical, stand up gig, improvathon or whatever. Think about the glances to people next to you to share in the joke together. Where else in life can you regularly have dozens to hundreds or thousands of people in a room, forging a connection, united by their collective laughter?

Now don’t get me wrong, tragic and serious works are important too. Some of the pieces that have stayed with me most have been utterly heartbreaking and hard-hitting pieces. These pieces can inspire people to go out and make a difference; can change their perspective on an issue. For example, last summer as part of Palfest, there was a production of Caryll Churchill’s “Seven Jewish Children” at the Abbey, followed by a Noble Call by Dr. Mads Gilbert. Now I’ve done bucket collections before, and normally you’d be happy to get a handful of loose change, but on their way out of that auditorium, people were giving 10,20,50 euro notes, giving in every currency, anything they could from €1 to $100 to fund medical aid for Palestine.

But the light-hearted and seemingly frivolous has a place too, and is as powerful in its own way. That collective guffaw can be a, wait for it...shining light, a beacon of hope as a hundred people forget their differences for an evening and just laugh together.

I was recently reading a book in which the writer, Allan Rodway, spoke of work of value and entertaining work as mutually exclusive and, while he later makes great points about the importance of comedy and its relation to tragedy, this false dichotomy really gets on my wick.  You see, entertainment is valuable. 

Sometimes just making someone laugh is a powerful enough act in itself, whether it is with a biting political satire or simply someone throwing a custard pie at someone else. When writing about the spirit of play and playfulness in theatre, Eric Weitz asks the vital question about laughter and fun in theatre, is it “the crowning bonus or the most important feature of all?” And I think that in a lot of situations it is the most important feature of all. 

Laughter has been proven to strengthen relationships, improve teamwork, release pain relieving endorphins, boost your immune system and even lower your risk of heart disease, as do other activities like singing and dancing. The positive energy that fills a room when a group of people are rolling in the aisles or clapping along to a big show-stopping musical number is immense. To see a room light up with collective enjoyment is a true manifestation of the magic of the arts. When we look at tragedy it is generally about one protagonist’s flaw and what they face as a result of that, they tend to be written as characters we can empathise with and learn from, but characters in comedies are often characters that we learn with. Comedies, musicals, pop-concerts and so forth are powerfully communal forms of entertainment. And I find this exciting. If we can unite a few hundred people in collective laughter simply by the exclamation of “A handbag?” or a small red hair puppet chirping “Where’d I putit?” then I think we can do anything. Every time we make an audience laugh, or share a smile with a fellow audience member, we are the roman candles that burn in the night, the force making a connection that Ash sings about. Every laugh, every jaunty major chord, every mischievous glance between audience and performer adds to that positivity, makes someone’s life a little better. Entertainment for entertainment’s sake lights up our lives, and that happiness is contagious. Even when we leave the theatre or walk away from the acrobat on Grafton Street, we hold on to some of that brightness, that positivity and we share it, even unconsciously, we pass that light on to other people. 

As Victor Borge put it, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” 

Contact: antons@tcd.ie  

Last of the Independents

Written and presented by Louise White 

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Louise White and I am a theatre and performance maker. I am a sole artist who collaborates with different artists on a project to project basis. 

This is dedicated to anyone in a theatre company. . . 

You people. . .

With your teams and your parties and sharing of loads
Group emails and spreadsheets and company goals
Dividing the labour and sharing the love
You’re like the full outfit, I’m only the glove

Let’s go do this next thing, no maybe we shouldn’t
Cos he said, and I heard, that’s those funders wouldn’t
Ok then let’s solve this, together, en masse,
Let’s group think, let’s council, let’s break up the task

Hey guys, did you hear this? I learned a new skill
Amazing! Exciting! I’ve ordered that drill.
Did you speak with that guy about the asbestos?
I sure did my pal, no poison can get us!

I’ve got an idea, and this time it’s big
The collective will ambish an ambitious gig
And all of this ambish will take us so far
Cos together we’re stronger and stronger by far

Oh palzo, my team friend, this is the dream project
A modernish feel but still nodding to old Brecht
Let’s collective the shit out of all our ideas
Then mish mash the fuck out of whatever the theme is

Looks like we’ll have done it again and once more
(Achieved what the guidelines are all looking for)
We’ve triumphed, we’ve shared things, we’ve gone back and forth
We’ll do this forever and ever henceforth

Distribute the burden, the highs and the lows
Be there for each other in hardships and woes

Hey guys, who is that? she is staring right over
Maybe we can group-block if we just duck for cover

Eh lads, I can see you, you’re emitting a glow
Cross-discipline hew, a collaborative flow
I can sense you’re alerted by my single presence
Could I run something by you, like really, in essence, 

Do you think of the others? The lonely? The few?
With no one to bounce off, to assert what to do.
Do you care about us? Out standing alone?
All desk and no office? All cable, no phone. 

Do you ask about me at my Christmas party?
No candle, warm Bulmers and one single Smartie?
Staring at the bar and its varnish and lacquer
Struggling to snap my Dealz Christmas cracker

Do you think of my crises? When the shit hits the fan?
There’s no one to talk to, except for my Mam.
What of the advices for fuck ups I’ve done
There’s no pals, no compadres, no pootsies, no huns

When I start with a concept that just needs to grow
It’s solo-fight shitfest to secure any dough
There’s no other buddy to go over apps
Or tell me the last bit was really quite crap

When I swim and am outcast in my darkest hour,
At sea, all afloat in a gak gaffa tower.
Are you asking how tough it must be to survive?
With no cushion, no padding, no mate to low five

And then when I’m flying and things going well
I’m stuck in a sort of alternative hell
I’m cheersing myself, not sure what to do
Like, I’m popping the cork and then catching it too

So I’m standing and looking and assessing your game
And wondering if I could, would I like the same?
The group thing, the ethos, the thought of a board?
Art soulmates with structure: would that strike a chord?

Wait . . . 

But then when they bug you, you still have to give
Compromise, listen, and live and let live
When I make decisions I don’t have to share
So I laugh from the seat of my reclaimed swivel chair

In comes an idea, I don’t have to check
It’s a meeting for one then it’s all hand on deck
I don’t have to outline, consult and conspire
Shit, I think I’ll put my next work on top of the spire

So. . .
I’m thinking right now, that I’ve fought for this lot
And for better or worse, it’s all that I’ve got
I’m determined and streamlined on this one intention
That I’m solo ‘cos YOLO, and that’s my contention. 


Contact: louisecwhite@gmail.com 

What you know

Written by Sarah FitzGibbon and Johanne Webb and presented by Johanne Webb
On behalf of Mothers Artists Makers

What you know
That she was a theatre artist
That she was good at what she did
That she had trained, is experienced and delivered
That she was pregnant.

What ever happened to her?

What you don’t know
That she is still a theatre artist
That she is still good at what she does,
That she has trained, is experienced and has delivered.
She now has a whole new set of skills to offer.
She is a lot more organized and her time management is incredible.

What ever happened to her?

She has a child, or two, or three…

You’ve known it the whole time
You don’t think of her for work, because ‘she has a family now.’
You don’t think she would be able to perform in that ...’she' s a single mother now'
You don’t think she’d be up for that … ‘she has a family now.’
The invitations stop, and with them gone and the price of the babysitter… she no longer goes to shows.
An event, opening or a launch happens, but with inaccessible venues or them happening at bedtime, she disappears altogether

Whatever happened to her?

She is still there, at the school gate

And you can say it’s what you know
But you’ve known it the whole time.
Yeah! You’ve known it the whole time
That once a woman has a baby,
she can say good bye…
She can disappear…

What’s she thinking in this new world of hers?
Maybe next year, I’ll have more time
To let people know that I am still here

Maybe next year, I’ll have more time
To sit down and create
To be myself
To be an artist once again.

And I can taste it, it’s my beginning…again

Maybe next year I will have more time,
To be the one to stop the dousing of myself and my sisters dreams,
To ask for child care
To ask for help
To ask for what is rightfully mine as I create a new generation of theatre goers.

And maybe next you’ll not ask ‘what ever happened to?’ 
You’ll look for her, ask her, consider her, consider her work, consider her practice.
She is still there.
We don’t want to be alone
We now are not alone.

I speak for Mothers Artists Makers 

We are a group of feminist mothers, with a background in theatre, who are now meeting once a week and talking regularly online. We also have some members who practise other Arts disciplines that contribute to theatre . We hope that FAMs (Fathers Artists Makers) is coming soon! All of us are mothers who believe our theatre careers have in some way been adversely affected by becoming parents. WTF energized us as women but we felt, however, that the one missing voice in this feminist revolution, was the voice of Irish mothers in theatre.

Mothers are the ultimate creators!
Mothers make amazing theatre.
Mothers are skilled, talented and masters at multi-tasking
Yeah! You’ve know it the whole time.

We don’t want to be alone
Now we are not alone.

Contact: Find Mothers Artists Makers on Facebook or follow on Twitter @MAMIreland 

Total eclipse of the heart

Written by Mona Considine and performed by the impromptu APAC16 Venue Managers Choir:

Mona Considine, Backstage Theatre, Longford
Louise Donlon, Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick
Fergal Mc Grath, Town Hall Theatre, Galway
Patricia Mc Bride, An Grianan, Letterkenny
Marie O Byrne, Hawkswell Theatre, Sligo
Maeve Mc Grath, Hawkswell Theatre, Sligo
Niamh Ni Chonchubhair, Axis, Ballymun
Niamh O Donnelll, Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray
Catriona Fallon, Siamsa Tire, Tralee
Linda Geraghty, Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge
Michelle De Forge, Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise


Irish Artists that bring work to our stage
Yeah, you are a shining light
You light a torch on our empty stage
Yeah, you are a shining light
Yeah, you light up our lives

You may not always have funds on your side
But to us you're a shining light
You survive, you act, you dance and you write
Yeah, you are a shining light
Yeah, you light up our lives

You make a production
Your play provokes a great reaction
Wrought by hard work and some great direction
Yeah, you are a shining light
Sound, light, costume we’ve seen
In venues all around the country
Great artistry you bring, and stagecraft
Yeah, you are a shining light

You are a force, you are a constant source
Yeah, you are a shining light
Incandescent in the darkest night
Yeah, you are a shining light
Yeah, you are a shining light
Yeah, you are a shining light……….1.45

Turnaround / every now and then we get a little bit of money and a tour can come round
Turnaround / every now and then we get a little support and an artist is employed
Turnaround / every now and then we get a little bit nervous that the last of all the grants have gone by
Turnaround / every now and then we get a little bit scared
And then we see the work you create
Turnaround bright stars / every now and then we make great art
Turnaround bright stars / every now and then we make great art

And we need you now to fight
And we need you all together
And if they only hear our plight
We'll be going hell for leather
And we'll only be making it right 
'Cause we'll always be strong
Together we can take it to that Enda, the Swine!
Our work is worth a ministry all of the time 
We do know what to do and we’ll all begin the call
We're working in a vacuum but we’re giving them stars 

We really need you to fight
The sector’s gonna start to fight
The sector’s gonna start to … 

Once upon a time we were making good work
But now we’re always chasing a grant
And there's nothing we can do
A total eclipse of the Arts

Once upon a time it was all about art
But now there's also rural affairs
Nothing more to say
A total eclipse of the Arts 

In pursuit of happiness

Written and presented by Jen Coppinger

Hi I am Jen Coppinger.

I have a new idea and I need your help. 

I have been working as an Independent Producer for many years now. I have the very great pleasure, indeed the great honour, of working with a variety of award-winning and critically acclaimed artists and companies such as HotForTheatre with Amy Conroy; TheEmergencyRoom with Olwen Fouéré; United Fall with Emma Martin as well as with independent artists such as Kevin Barry, Paul Curley, Kellie Hughes, Seán Mac Erlaine, Gina Moxley, Jody O’Neill, Shane O’Reilly, Raymond Scannell and Dylan Tighe. 

At present there are very few Independent Producers in Ireland and even fewer full time Independent Producers. In 2015 I worked on 10 different projects, in 2014 the number was similar. The hours I put in are many, 60 a week ususally, 80 at peak times, but to be fair, I do love what I do so I am happy with the work and it does give me huge fulfillment. However the long hours, the huge responsibility, the large teams that need to be managed and, above all, the artists that need to be minded, guided, facilitated and championed needs lorry loads of energy. 

Since the death of many independent companies in the South in 2010  - when we went from 29 companies who received Arts Council funding for at least 2 years in a row to our current amount of 7 independent companies – a chasm has arisen. This is unsuprisingly between regularly funded organisations and companies funded through project awards. How can artists survive without support? How can independent producers function without an infrastructure?  

Frequently companies find themselves without a manager or a producer or, very often, working with a new producer with each new production. This lack of continuity brings with it many problems and I want to research ideas around finding a solution. 

There are also now very few general managers/producers in the south. The expertise and working knowlegde of best practice is shrinking. Young producers are being thrown into the deep end and some are finding it hard to swim. Many of us more experienced producers do what we can to help. Theatre Forum has set up a mentorship programme.  Personally I meet with folk all the time to try and help in any way I can but there are only so many cups of tea in Simon’s Place that one can have and I can only commit small amounts of time. 

Since 2009, many meetings & discussions have occured about the concept of what a Production Hub is, though as yet one has not been created.  I have had a nerd like obession with this idea for some time and feel that Artsadmin UK is a production model we all need to aspire to.  Artsadmin was set up because its founders became increasingly aware of the lack of producing and administrative support for independent artists and companies.  Artsadmin was set up to try to do something about it & has been of great support to numerous artists in the UK including Mark Storor speaking here at Theatre Forum.   

We NEED an Irish Artsadmin. 

Earlier this year I received a bursary from the Arts Council to enable time & space to research and develop the idea of an Irish Artsadmin. 

I want to gather necessary expertise to create an innovative producing organisation that can develop, support, produce, market & administrate artists' work. I want to set up an organisation that embraces legacy. I want to create a flexible organisation that can produce multiple shows simultaneously, which responds to the specific needs of each artist it produces. I basically want to clone myself and set up an organisation that has artists needs at the centre. 

In order to create the ideal structure I will shadow organisations and individuals who have unique expertise or have successfully created similar producing models internationally, namely: 

* Judith Knight from Artsadmin UK 

* Jackie Wylie from Glasgow Life 

* Pádraig Cusack from Wales Millenium Centre and the National Theatre of Great Britain 

* Rachael Azzopardi from Sydney Theatre Company

* Peter Daly, Dub.in based actor and account 

I will then write up my research into a business plan which I intend to put into action in 2017.  

The dream, the pursuit of hapiness is to create an organistion that has several producers working together to create a sustainable, creative, inspiring partnership with artists that can only benefit all of us who love theatre, who love dance, who love art. My email address is on the contact list so please get in touch to let me know what you think is currently missing, what you think we need to think about when setting up such a company. I will endeavour to look at bridging this chasm and by creating an enviroment where we do not burn out but instead we develop, we sustane and we embrace a better future. 

Contact: jencoppinger@gmail.com 

Rat trap

Written and presented by Mark O’Brien

The final text was unavailable but this is a summary of Mark’s proposal in light of the restructuring of the Irish Government Departments and the #ArtsDeptNow campaign in the weeks prior to the conference.

So the arts have been strategically aligned with rural affairs and regional development but it feels more like they've been buried in a field?

The future needs to start now

We need to take responsibility for this. 

We need to shift the argument and develop a wider constituency. 

If people in the arts are the only people campaigning for the arts then we are failing. 

The public need to be the advocates but I'm afraid we're just not speaking their language.

Do we really want to engage?


Wherefore creativity? 

I'm in the mood for dancing

Presentation with live demonstrations by Lucy Medlycott of Irish Street Arts & Carnival Network & performers from Galway Community Circus

We are the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network formed to create an umbrella body representing these collective art forms and a united voice and we are in the Mood for Dancing. 

There are over 70 diverse members of ISACS making work in public spaces - in rivers, carparks, treetops, on buildings, rooftops and off cranes. We claim back our space and invite communities to join us. We have large intergenerational, multicultural, socially diverse audiences who through our creations join together for a collective experience creating shared memory, celebration and mutual respect.  

Our work involves all art forms- dance, visual arts, theatre, comedy, music, science and more...

if you can imagine it, it can happen....and we are exploding!!!

Contact:  info@isacs.ie