So far, my work as a director has taken
many forms. I’ve directed adaptations from contemporary European literature (novellas, short stories and poetry), I’ve devised shows from original verbatim material, I’ve worked with new writers, I’ve created dance-theatre and have directed Shakespeare with actors in training. My work ranges from intimate solo shows to casts of seventeen. It has incorporated the latest in video technology as well as original sound scores and live interactive sound engineering. I’m currently involved in several different projects: I just directed Night just before the Forests for the Macau Arts Festival in China, in English and Cantonese; in association with Scribbled Thought production company, I developed a show as part of Choreodrome 2017 about weight and loads for touring, Loaded, which originally performed at Jacksons Lane and received research and development funding from Arts Council in 2015 and 2017. A new dance show, Concert, that I directed with Colin Dunne and composer Mel Mercier, performed at CND Paris and Dublin Dance Festival 2017 and is preparing for touring in 2019. My book on the Michael Chekhov acting technique (Bloomsbury, Methuen 2019) has just come out. I continue to explore broader ideas around practice, training and the interface between dance, design and theatre, some of which I presented in talks at Lillian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells and Pushkin House in London and Whitstable Biennale.
My work combines two approaches: the first is a detailed attention to text and character, the second is movement or choreography. This comes, in part, from the other pathway in my work – that of actor training. For many years I’ve studied two unusual and relatively unknown Russian methods for actors: Biomechanics and the Michael Chekhov technique. I teach both of these at Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Biomechanics, created by Russian director Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940), is a rigorous physical training based on the premise that in order to be imaginatively free the actor must by physically free. It trains the actor’s physical dexterity, elasticity and responsiveness. The Michael Chekhov technique privileges the imagination as the actor’s primary source of inspiration. Michael Chekhov (1891-1955) – one of Stanislavsky’s most brilliant pupils and actors and nephew of Anton Chekhov – believed that the actor need not rely on personal experience or emotional memory to transform. He favoured an imaginative, objective approach. So you might say that Biomechanics looks after the actor’s body and the Michael Chekhov technique connects the body to the mind, the inner life and the voice. I feel my work in rehearsal is borne out of these methodologies which I first encountered in Paris. Part of my project is also to make these valuable tools accessible to actors and directors.
I trained in Dublin, Paris and London and my work straddles these three cities. I’m Irish, I live in London, I work on Russian techniques and I remain connected to Paris through my touring productions and my co-translations into French (with Sarah Hirschmuller, published by Editions Théâtrales) of several Howard Barker plays which are regularly performed there. I’d like to continue to forge connections between these different cities that are important to me, and beyond.
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