Tech: the nature documentary

I feel slightly like the theatrical version of David Attenborough at this moment:

Here I am, sitting in the darkness of Smock Alley Theatre’s Boys School; metres away from the stage, as companies complete the final tech rehearsals of Collaborations 2013 (Woohoo!).

Earlier this evening, the native creatures of Smock Alley (tech staff and festival team) cleared away the detritus left by foreign specimens (businessmen) and prepared for the ritual known as technical rehearsal … The first visitors to this carefully prepared space were Come As Soon As You Hear with their show ‘Whelp‘: a coming of age story about whether we have in fact, come of age; which will burst onto the stage as a ‘work in progress’ tomorrow (Tuesday), Wednesday and Thursday at 6pm … who knows what will happen!

This whirlwind of peacocking (sorry I can’t think of any other suitable nature words) continued with the alpha-male of ‘The Park‘ (written by Rex Ryan) smoking and sparring across the stage; then moving swiftly into the laughter and tears of ‘Awkward‘ by Camille Ross. Completing the block: ‘Pondling‘ by Genevieve Hulme-Beaman with its beautifully simple staging and gorgeous writing. You can meet them all tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday at 7.30pm … all exhibiting some truly exciting new writing.

Our final Boys School show for tomorrow is ‘Jenny is a Raver‘ … a musical of sorts, that looks and sounds amazing: you may have seen their glowsticks around the place, but they won’t be lighting up here till later. For now there is a giant map and some cowboy boots on stage, and the lights are going down for the final tech of (possibly the best title of the festival): ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gardai‘. Time to disappear back into the undergrowth so as not to scare them off.


Happy Sunday, from Collaborations

Disappearing as quickly as they’d come, we say goodbye to another week of shows in the Collaborations Festival – no more diamonds and lights; no more feather boas and porno mags; no more 7 ft crosses and bras … and I thought the opening weekend had some odd goings on! But fear not, we still have heaps of excitement coming up as we scurry into the final week of the festival.

Not wanting to take our Sunday ‘day of rest’ too literally, we have a rehearsed reading of new play Cornerstones by Bairbre Guilfoyle at 2.30pm today in the Main Space (and it’s Free!) Cornerstones started life as a novel, and began it’s transformation into theatre with the performance of a short scene in last year’s festival. Since then, Bairbre has continued to develop the play with director Claire Maguire and the cast; so we look forward to seeing how it has grown over the year!

This evening at 8pm, making use of our gorgeous Boys School space, we have 3 x Distilled: a fantastic and unique collaboration between Poets and Sound Artists, curated by Annemarie Ni Churreain. Nothing like a bit of poetry on a Sunday Evening!

…And while you’re in Smock Alley being the little culture vultures that you are, why not pop upstairs to The Banquet Hall to have a look at our Art Exhibition with Paintings, Photography, and Installations from Ste Murray, Claire Dooley, Gearoid O’Dea, Niamh Hanaford, and Glenn Keelan. It’s a gorgeous space at the best of times, but now the work on the walls can live up to the ceiling and windows!


Collaborations 2013: the week after the weekend!

Blimey! We have now completed the Opening Weekend of Collaborations 2013 … and what a weekend it was: There’s been a real buzz around the building (which someone compared to the crazy-cool atmosphere of Electric Picnic circa 2006), and our lovely shows In Rainbows, Block One (the marvellous Elephant, The Last Tirade, and Fishes),  and Starting Point(e) were greeted with sell-out shows, standing ovations, and glowing feedback. It is ridiculously exciting to see new shows get their 1st ever audience, then hear people discussing all the shows afterwards. Long may it continue …

Speaking of which, we’re plunging straight into even more high quality entertainment for you to enjoy.

The Sylvia by Philip StJohn, was first featured in Collaborations 2012 as a rehearsed reading. Since then, Liam Halligan and the team have continued to develop the play, supported by Fishamble’s ‘New Play Clinic’, and Rough Magic; and now it is ready to be released on the world as a full production! I first read the script in November 2011 and was in a few of the rehearsals and workshops over the year, so I’m ridiculously excited to see the finished product … so much so, that I haven’t let myself see any of the rehearsal with the full cast, so it can be a surprise! The Sylvia previews tonight (tickets 10 euro), opens tomorrow: Tuesday 26th, and runs until March 9th8pm, Smock Alley Main Space.

Rehearsal Shot for The Sylvia

Meanwhile in The Boys School, we’re teching away for this weeks shows: starting tomorrow we have:

Block Two (Salt on Our Skin by Lindsay Sedgwick and Portrait of the Artist as a Youngish Woman by Sarah Kinlen) at 6pm

Block Three (Self Portrait by Laurence Falconer,  Ape by Fried Egg Theatre Company, and /Portals/ by Skylarkin Theatre) at 7.30pm

and KATIE MAG by Jennifer Rogers and Roundhouse Productions at 9pm

Which all have shows on Tuesday 26th, Thursday 28th, and March 2nd.

Starting on Wednesday we have:

Block Four (Dangerous Felon by Roger Gregg, Cail by Cait Canavan, and High Five, Danny O’C brought to you by Risky Proximity Players) at 6pm

Block Five (Tongues of Fire by Manikin Theatre, and Uptimes by Margaret McAuliffe) at 7.30pm

and Absolution by Kelly McAuley at 9pm

… We also have our Art Exhibition opening officially tomorrow evening in the Banquet Hall, which includes photography, paintings, and live performance. 

So that should keep us all entertained for a while, then we have EVEN more shows in our final week! There’s more information on our website, or you can pop into Smock Alley and pick up a programme. And of course, don’t forget to book your tickets from or 01 677 0014 … Boom.

It’s Nearly Here: Collaborations ’13

The Jack Burdell Experience team have well and truly moved into Smock Alley: We’re one step away from bringing in our toothbrushes … in fact, that’s not a bad idea!

This week we have thrown ourselves (and anyone in the vicinity) deep into Technical Rehearsals for the festival. Show by show, we’re plotting those lights and finally getting to see what people have been concocting over the last weeks and months … and they all look amazing; I’m so excited!

And that’s not all! Backstage, hidden away in all the nooks and crannies of Smock Alley are the elves … our wonderful and amazing interns who are slaving away with goody bags, artist passes, special deals, media coverage, lights, sound, props, and so much more than I could possibly describe. Our production interns and our technical interns are wonderful and amazing. They’re great. If you see them around the place, give them a smile and possibly a sandwich.

So now onto what’s been cooking:

The Festival starts on Friday (not long at all!!!) with 5 shows, in 3 blocks. First up, we have the stunning In Rainbows featuring live music and aerial silks masterminded by Emily Aoibheann (of Paperdolls fame … Spirit of the Fringe Winners 2012). Since this beautiful little piece is so fleeting, you can catch it at 6pm or 6.30pm on Friday 22nd, Saturday 23rd, and Sunday 24th: and it’s only a fiver!

At 7.30pm we have our first block of the year: the blocks were one of the most popular features of last year’s festival, where you can watch 2 or 3 fantabulous shorter shows in one sitting, giving you a little taster of One Act plays, and Works in Progress. Block One consists of Elephant, The Last Tirade, and Fishes: 3 complimentary but contrasting shows that will entertain you, challenge you, and give you a darn good giggle.

And to round off the evening, the dance spectacular Starting Point(e) takes over The Main Space at 9pm on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd, exploring where things begin, and where it takes them from there … it’s on for two nights only, and is not to be missed!

I’ll bring you more updates from inside the bat cave soon; but in the meantime, why not drop in and pick up a programme from Smock Alley (Lower Exchange Street) or look at it online; then get booking those tickets from or … since you’ll want to see lots of the shows, why not use our pick & mix deal and get 3 shows for 27euro!

See you all soon!

Wise Words

I always knew that the theatre was where I felt safe and strong – where I could say what my heart yearned to express. I still feel this … and am steely in my conviction that the theatre is a place for all, from all backgrounds and circumstances. Theatre should not be the property of the elite or those in the know – it should not be analysed by academia to the point of utter deconstruction. It should be available to all, speak to all, mirror all.

– From the Preface to the script for Silent and Forgotten by Pat Kinevane.

Some of the best plays leave you gushing to everyone about how wonderful they were, and some leave you with a stunned silence. The best often do both; like Silent by Pat Kinevane, which was on in Smock Alley recently and which is currently on tour along with another of his plays Forgotten. 

If you haven’t seen them yet, do!


Introducing the Hedgehog:

Last year, I told you the story of our 2012 mascot/Oracle/silent partner/glamorous assistant/poster boy Aloysius the Whale. Aloysius was a great help to us last year, as we launched our website and held our inaugural festival Collaborations 2012. Without him, maybe the festival would not have been the success that it was.

After the festival, Aloysius made the difficult decision to leave Dublin, and return to the open water for a while. He promised to return if we needed him, and handed over the festival to this year’s guest member of The Jack Burdell Experience: Harry Jeremy Hedgehog. After the official handover ceremony, Harry started his work promoting the festival.

The hedgehog’s message is simple … find something you Love, you’re Great at, and you Survive on. Where these 3 things overlap, you find your hedgehog. Officially ‘The Hedgehog Concept was invented by philosopher Isaiah Berlin, expanding on the ideas from  Archilochus’s ‘The Hedgehog and The Fox‘. It was also developed into a corporate leadership strategy; but Harry is more interested in the Hedgehog side than the corporate side. When The Jack Burdell Experience puts together what we Love, what we’re Great at, and what we Survive on, we get The Collaborations Festival: Collaborations is our Hedgehog, and Harry is our Hedgehog’s Hedgehog.

As our poster boy, Harry will be on the T-shirts, in the programme, and on the website. But he is SO much more than just a pretty face: Harry will also be travelling around Dublin asking people what their hedgehog is, and drumming up support for the Festival. He’ll be offering words of encouragement and wisdom to those that need it, and he’ll be asking you your thoughts about the festival, and the shows you see. 

So I thought now – a few days before Fund It and volunteer applications close, and one month before the festival starts; would be an excellent time to get to know Harry a little better.

Here are a few things that make Harry who he is:

  • His parents chose the name Harry, because they relate alliterative names to super heroes, and icons e.g Peter Parker, Clarke Kent, Marilyn Monroe, and Harry Houdini.
  • His favourite band is The Kinks
  • He is a huge fan of the theatre and film, although he sometimes has trouble with his spikes getting lodged in the seats, which can prove awkward when he stands up to leave at the end of the show.
  • Harry is a big fan of reading. His favourite authors are Beatrix Potter, Muriel Barbery, and Alison Uttley, and he just bought the play script of ‘Silent‘ (By Pat Kinevane) after seeing it in Smock Alley.
  • His favourite hobbies are curling up in a ball and rolling down hills, napping, and ‘accidentally on purpose’ poking people in the foot then looking cute so no one can get annoyed at him.

If you want to get in touch with Harry at any time, just email or write on our Facebook page. it takes Harry quite a long time to type, and there are a lot of typos cause by him having to walk across the keyboard; so he usually dictates things, and we write them down for him.