Pulsating play to launch new performance hub for Limerick

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

Workshops and laughter: some of the cast of the rehearsed reading of Helena Close's Pinhead Duffy - back John A. Murphy, Norma Lowney, Ann Blake, front Myles Breen, Helena Close and Joanne Ryan. Picture: Eamonn OMahony
THE CREAM of Limerick acting talent is to come together for a theatre project that will also mark the launch of a new performance hub in the city.

THE CREAM of Limerick acting talent is to come together for a theatre project that will also mark the launch of a new performance hub in the city.

Pulse, a City of Culture legacy project, is part of a wider scheme to transform the Red Cross Hall on Cecil Street into the Limerick Theatre and Performance Hub.

The notion for the hub acting as a fledgling performance development company sprang out of a meeting of minds in the artistic community that took place last year - the Limerick Experiment.

Eamonn O’Mahony, chairman of the hub, explained that it will “offers opportunities for artists to merge visual, theatre, digital, circus, music, dance and all other forms of creative expression under one roof.”

“Many artists from different disciplines have been looking for ways to work together outside of the traditional methods where we generally work separately in our individual art form,” he said.

“When we were offered the use of Red Cross Hall for a year by Limerick City and County Council, we welcomed the opportunity.”

Previously in use as a back-up for the Belltable when it was closed for redevelopment, the space has long been a performance one in the city.

This Friday Paul Tarpey’s Making the Cut will bring legendary beat band Grannies Intentions back to a space they performed in the late 1960s. And Ceangail, a new street and spectacle company run by by Gearoid O’Halloran, using the space on a weekly basis to teach circus skills to young artists.

Later in the year, Sound Out and The Pigtown Fling, a music legacy project funded by City of Culture involving John Greenwood and Noel Hogan, will utilise the space, as will Playtime, a series of weekend workshops for children and young people taking place in September.

But up first and running for a week is Marie Boylan’s Pulse, a programme intended to inject a new energy into professional theatre in the city.

The first instalment of the programme will see some of Limerick’s most noted actors combine for a rehearsed reading of a stage adaptation of local novelist Helena Close’s Pinhead Duffy.

The author is adapting the novel, set in Limerick, herself, collaborating through workshops with Corcadorca’s Pat Kiernan and Gavin Kostick of Fishamble - as well as a series of readings with actors such as Myles Breen, Frances Healy, Norma Lowney, Gene Rooney, John Anthony Murphy, Kevin Kiely, Ann Blake and more - some 18 in total.

The initial results of the week long workshops will be presented in 69 O’Connell Street on Saturday, June 28, and a second instalment of the theatre legacy project will take place in October, by which stage Close’s play will have undergone many drafts and have had the input of the upper echelons of Limerick’s artistic community, something which is quite unique.

“It is a good mix of young and old, the more established actors with some up and coming. It is quite a young script, so the balance is good.

“I think it is incredibly unique, because for a long time in professional theatre in Limerick, it is very rare that you would have had over three people in a cast.”

The rehearsed readings form just one part of the Pulse programme, which is aimed at the wider community and prospective actors, through workshops with the Abbey’s vocal director Andrea Ainsworth, Barabbas’ Raymond Keane, who will facilitate a physical and movement workshop and David Horan from the Lir Academy who will host a special workshop for young adults who wish to

study theatre. Chrissie Poulter, one of the world’s leading facilitators in developing theatre in the community, will also facilitate a workshop for community leaders.

“Pulse is a series of workshops,” explains Marie. “We are really focussing on bringing in younger people as well and the wider community of Limerick.

“This was always on the cards. Maeve McGrath was the legacy chair (for City of Culture) and herself and Karl Wallace really got this going and it has continued on. It is a wonderful opportunity for professionals in the city to leave behind a legacy. The vision was fantastic behind all of the legacy projects.”

Pinhead Duffy takes place on Saturday, June 28 at 8pm in 69 O’Connell Street. To take part in the workshops or for more information on the performance hub, email theatrelegacyproject@gmail.com.