SoloSIRENs - Tallaght community arts initiative comes to the civic

By Taylor Gleeson

Fresh off their 5 x 5 programme in the Abbey Theatre, SoloSIRENs are set for a homecoming in the The Civic Theatre later on this year.

SoloSIRENs is a series of theatre productions and discussions that are made up of a diverse group of women who are all either established or emerging in the theatre industry.

Jenny Macdonald in Enthroned 1

Jenny MacDonald in Enthroned

An initiative of Tallaght Community Arts, the SoloSIRENs series will kick off on November 1 with Enthroned, a solo production by Jenny MacDonald.

Jenny, the creator and director of SoloSIRENs, caught up with The Echo recently to bring us up to speed on how she got to this point in her career.

Where are you from?

I am from Toronto, Canada.

How did you get into theatre?

The first show I did was at my summer camp in northern Ontario. I was a cat called Samuel. In secondary school, I started going to a place called the Young People’s Theatre every Saturday. It was somewhere between what would be a Speech and Drama school and a Youth Theatre in Ireland. I was hooked from that point on. I was really lucky to have some great teachers and mentors along the way.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in theatre?

I am really proud of my solo show Enthroned. It is the most personal piece I have ever made and I had to slog through some tough material to make it. I also feel proud of the way that I work. A long time ago I decided I am not the kind of artist who believes that people should be sacrificed to make the work great. I try really hard to create a context of care and support in any project I create and work on.

What is your favourite part of the job?

I feel really lucky to do the work that I do. I get to travel a lot, I meet fascinating people, and my work is all about human story and connection. I love foraging around in some of the deeper layers of our feelings and experiences and seeing if I can bring a few gems of insight to the surface to share.

What do you want people to know about you and your work?

I really believe that the theatre gives us a chance to rehearse the ways we want to live and then to present those possibilities. It’s an exciting time in theatre. People are changing their approaches to it a lot. More and more people from different walks of life can make and participate in theatre and say what they need to say. I hope I am part of that change.

How long have you been working in theatre?

Working is a hard thing to define in the theatre. I guess if you mean “earning my living” that started about sixteen years ago. But if we are talking about working in theatre as in creating work for public presentation, that would be more like 25 years ago.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

There is a lot of uncertainty. I suppose there is in all of life, but in theatre the rate of change is fast and furious. You don’t always know when or where the next gig is or when or if you’ll have steady pay. Having said that, those challenges also keep it very alive. It’s kind of easy to live in the present in this work. We don’t get much choice!

Jenny Macdonald CREDIT Dixie Sheridan2 1

Jenny MacDonald

What have you been up to recently?

In June I did a week of development with an amazing collective of women as part of the Abbey Theatre’s 5 x 5 programme.

It was really exciting to work with an all-female ensemble and crew and to have the support of a national institution. We created a work in progress on the Peacock Stage.

We will be developing it to present at the Civic Theatre, Tallaght in December as part of SoloSIRENs.

Do you have any big projects coming up?

I am very excited about my upcoming programme at the Civic Theatre. SoloSIRENs is a series of works by women running November and December of 2019.

The first three pieces are solo shows. I will present my own work alongside the work of two artists I hugely admire: Nicole Rourke and Jacinta Sheerin.

The series will culminate in a work by the women’s collective who did the Abbey Theatre 5 x 5 week.

I want to create a space where we can investigate together and with our audiences what it means to be a woman today.

I am really grateful to Tallaght Community Arts and the Civic Theatre for programming the work.

SoloSIRENS will be at the Civic Theatre from Friday, Nov 1 to Saturday, Dec 14. The production starts with ‘Enthroned’ by MacDonald and runs every two weeks.

The following shows are ‘Sweet About Me’ by Jacinta Sheerin, ‘Baggage’ by Nicole Rourke and ‘Falling’ by MacDonald and the SoloSIRENs collective.

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