Posts in Research

The Hickey Family

November 15th, 2016 Posted by Research 0 comments on “The Hickey Family”

Emma O’Kane

My research for These Rooms focused on the Hickey family, in particular Teresa Hickey, wife of Thomas and mother of Christopher. Both were killed in the North King Street massacre. Call it a coincidence, a sign or the power and might of live performance, but unbeknown to me I came face to face with the Grandniece of Thomas Hickey in performance.

I shared a one-on-one moment with this woman, showing her a memorial card in memory of Thomas and Christopher Hickey. Not knowing at the time that I was actually showing her a photograph of her relatives. This was a defining moment for me where the space of 100 years and the lives of the inhabitants of North King Street did not seem so distant or unfamiliar. The story of These Rooms is universal and the reality of working on a show that deals with actual events means that its effects are still felt presently and reverberate globally. Sadly atrocities happen to human beings every day. People get caught in the crossfire. Not every citizen has the same agenda as those handling the arms.

Working on These Rooms has made me understand the importance of remaining impartial when creating work around real life testimonies. The testimonies are very harrowing and it is hard not to have an opinion about the perpetrators. But whom does that serve? Does an audience really need to see my blame played out in front of them? Blame keeps us stuck in the past.

This way of seeing has taken me a while to fully implement in my process and the work that I have created from directly relating to the testimonies in These Rooms. But I believe it is richer for it. Essentially I believe the role of the artist is to raise questions but not necessarily to answer them. Doing so robs the audience of their experience and the opportunity for them to formulate their own opinions.

As an artist responding to the testimonies one hundred years since the North King Street massacre, the single most important element of this creation for me is that the voices of the testimonies are heard and their stories are told. It is my job to do this with an impartiality that allows the audience to see these people as people and not just victims of a crime, without that human connection they just fade back into the past and we never get to hear their voices.

In hearing their voices one hopes that history does not repeat itself.

Development Workshop

July 18th, 2016 Posted by Research 0 comments on “Development Workshop”

David Bolger, Louise Lowe and Owen Boss held a series of creative development workshops during the autumn of 2015, culminating in a three day session in December with a number of performers.  Here are a series of images to give an idea of this work in embryonic form.

The Imperial War Museum and 14-18 NOW

July 18th, 2016 Posted by Research 0 comments on “The Imperial War Museum and 14-18 NOW”

In early to mid January myself, Louise Lowe and Owen Boss from ANU and David Bolger and Bridget Webster from CoisCeim traversed the Irish sea in simpler pre-Brexit times to take a visit to the beautiful Imperial War Museum where 14-18NOW have their headquarters to continue conversations in relation to THESE ROOMS.

14-18NOW is an arts commissioning body commemorating the centenary of the Great War. Looking up their programme in advance I felt that I could not remember seeing a more innovative, ambitious or appropriate centenary programme which seemed to span all sides, points of view and sensibilities when dealing with such an incredibly complex and confounding event such as the First World War. Some of 14-18NOW had come to see Pals: The Irish at Gallipoli by ANU in 2015 and had had a great response to the work when we met for coffee in the Collins Barracks cafe after. After that, the Arts Council of Ireland had already started some clever talks with them on how they could link in with some of the ART:2016 commissions as part of Ireland 2016. This trip to the Imperial War Museum seemed inevitable!

We arrived at the museum a bit in advance to check it out. There are five Imperial War Museums in the UK and considering they’re purely showing you a glimpse into the past and things and people that no longer exist, the minute you walk into the field there is a very surprising buzz and life to the building and its environs. From the way the two giant cannons (from the HMS Ramillies and the HMS Roberts) seem to leap out at you from in front of the building to the sheer amount of people bustling in and out of the main foyer.

The museum’s remit is to record the civil and military war effort and conflicts that Britain or the commonwealth have been involved in since 1914 so there is plenty to see. The museum’s collections include archives of personal and official documents, photographs, film and video material, and oral history recordings; an extensive library, a large art collection, and examples of military vehicles and aircraft, equipment and other artefacts. the five of us sprinted around the museum, splitting up to cover more ground and devour as much of the experience as we could. A highlight for me was when I ended up in a artificial trench from WW1 and realised I had a new found claustrophobia. I don’t know how well I’d have done in the war.

After recovery from my trench trauma and sprinting around the museum trying to see as much as possible before sitting down with 14-18NOW to discuss THESE ROOMS, how we envisage it at the Dublin Theatre Festival this September and how it could be reimagined for a British context in 2018. We left the meeting feeling energised having encountered a commissioning body totally open to new perspectives and they clearly felt the same about the ANU / CoisCéim collaboration as they since came on board as co-commissioners. We’re looking forward to the next step when they come and see the work in October and see how the discussion continues from there.

Listen to a testimony

July 18th, 2016 Posted by Research 0 comments on “Listen to a testimony”

Listen to an extract of one of the testimonies from one of the 38 female witnesses as recorded by cast member Emma O’Kane.