Collaborations Festival – 2012 participant interviews II

 As I hope you’ll have seen, applications and full details of how to apply for our 2013 COLLABORATIONS Festival are now on our website. And to tell you more about the experience of the 2012 Festival, here’s our interview with the lovely Mary Cate Smith who created ‘Fragmented’:

How did you hear about the Collaborations festival?
 I heard about the Collaborations festival from Clara and John who I did the City Electric with in March 2011. How I got involved with that was I used to go to one on one sessions with John for acting coaching, and I knew him from attending the Gaiety Advanced Performance Year in Acting in 2008-2009.
What role did you play in your show?
 I played the role of archetypes of woman, including the virgin Mary, a woman getting ready to go to work in her bedroom, a woman at work in a dating agency.
Did you put in your own application or work on someone else’s show?
 I put in my own application.
How did the idea come about and how did it develop?
The idea came about from my own desire to create a piece of theatre that would explore the idea of body image. I then contacted a performer I had met at a Barabbas clown workshop, called Emma Meehan. We researched the idea and workshopped a lot of different ideas for a year. Then I heard about the festival and decided I wanted to make a piece, based on some of that research. I contacted Emma, who didn’t want to create a piece for theatre, but she agreed to attend some of the rehearsals. Then I was put in touch with a director, recommended to me by John Delaney: Antoinette Duffy. Antoinette looked at some movement pieces we had worked on and reworked the research to make a small piece of theatre.
How long was your piece?
 The piece was 20 minutes approx.
Did you see it as a work in progress or a fully formed piece?
I saw it as a work in progress.
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
 The biggest challenge I faced was presumed ‘ownership’ of the piece. I initially approached Emma about the piece, however, after months of working together we realised that the very original and fundamental premise of our work was greatly different. Emma wanted to research something academically for a few years, and I wanted to create something dynamic that would play to an audience. Emma wanted to go through the process without having an audience in mind, she wanted to make work for herself, that she would be proud of and I wanted to make work that would connect with an audience. If something was to be presented, Emma wanted that to be a piece of performance art, or a non narrative piece of abstract movement, without any linear cohesiveness. I wanted the piece to be cut and dry theatre. So taking some of the images we had worked together was tricky as we both felt a certain ownership and connection to those images that were created in a rehearsal room. When Antoinette joined the process, she again had her own views on what we had created thus far, and she felt all our research seemed far too academic and seemed as if we were compiling an argument about women for a thesis or a book.
I feel that the piece wasn’t what I personally really wanted to present, but that was ok too, because it was a work in progress and I enjoyed the process, coming across challenges and how to face them, and I enjoyed being part of a team and being able to debate those issues with others.
What were the greatest moments or breakthroughs?
Greatest moments or breakthroughs were presenting the piece to an audience.
What would you do differently?
In the initial process, I wouldn’t research so much aimlessly, so I didn’t have so much information it was impossible to know what to concentrate on. I wouldn’t work with one other performer in a room without a director again. I would have a director present from the get go. I think that that is so important. On the other hand, if I felt really strongly about the piece and it wasn’t devised yet, I would direct myself.
What were your favourite moments of the festival both in performance, and watching other people’s work?
I loved Andy Crowe’s show and I loved Genevieve’s show as well, even though it was static and so simple, the text and the performance stuck out so well in my mind. I also really enjoyed Clara’s as I felt that I got to know her more as a person and that’s always really beautiful when you know someone in professional manner, and then you get to see a little piece of them. Andy’s show obviously had so much work put into it, and it had so many lovely moments, my favourite one being her dancing on her own to the music. It was really 80s and reminded me of all those Brat Pack movies that I used to love.
What have you been working on since?
Since then I’ve worked on Carpet Theatre’s evening of Grand Guignol, two short plays that ran back to back at the Dublin Fringe Festival. The Trick and Burning Love. Both were physical theatre in a very specific style of imagistic melodrama. I have also been writing a lot. I performed one of Mark Cantan’s scripts in Theatre Upstairs in Lanigan’s, directed by Aoife Courtney. I performed Riders to the Sea in UCD, directed by Mary Ellen Conlon.
What words of wisdom would you like to impart to someone considering taking part?
Words of wisdom. Create for an audience. Think of who your audience is; why are you making this piece, and why now? Has it been done before , and if so, what can I say that’s new about the subject? Am I extremely clear about what my objectives are and do I share the same ethos as my collaborators? Know your limitations within the space. How can I use the space as creatively as I can.
Any other thoughts?
 Just do it. Present, present, present.
Thanks Mary Cate, more interviews and feedback from our 2012 participants will follow shortly, so keep an eye out!

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