Tell us about yourself:
I am a theatre maker, writing and directing plays for children. I also work as a freelance set and costume designer for theatre, opera, dance and film, having designed for the Everyman, Cork Opera House, Rough Magic, Junk Ensemble and Ulysses Opera Theatre amongst others.
I am a member of BrokenCrow, an ambitious production company fuelled by the joy and possibilities of collaboration. For BrokenCrow I have created two shows for children, Miss Happiness And Miss Flower, part of the Cork Midsummer Festival in City Libraries in 2019, and The Secret Garden which started at the Everyman and went on to have a national tour in October, 2017.
Last winter, with the support of The Arts Council and in partnership with the Everyman, and Garter Lane I created The Snow Queen, a new audio drama for children with an illustrated accompanying pack.
I also teach design and performance technologies at UCC and have been guest lecturer at Mary I., WIT and IADT.
From 2017 to 2019, I spent three years as Theatre Artist in Residence in Mary I. in Limerick working with student teachers and am currently Theatre Artist in Residence in Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford, where my residency focuses on developing theatre and art for children.
Where were you born?
Where do you live?
Top of the town in Waterford. It was lovely to return to live my home town in 2019 after 18 happy years in Cork.
I live with my partner Anthony and we’re lucky to have a close and loving relationship with both our sets of parents, siblings, in-laws and our nephews and nieces. This is in addition to a strong network of wonderfully engaged aunts, uncles and cousins. I know how fortunate I am to have always been supported by this strong family net.
My best friends are Ann-Marie, who I met on the first day of secondary school, and Jacqui, who I met as a teenager in Waterford Youth Drama. We have lived together and also spent long periods apart living in various countries but we have still managed to maintain a really close friendship. This past year has been a rollercoaster for everyone but especially for my two best friends. I am in awe of their ongoing strength and resilience and grateful for their continued friendship.
Person you most admire?
Caitríona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners is a remarkable person.
Through her incredible hard work and generosity, she has managed to provide hot meals and human contact for people who really need it.
There is nothing more admirable then that.
Person who most irritates you?
People who are intentionally and knowingly unkind.
Where was your most memorable holiday?
About eight years ago, we spent three weeks in India traveling to celebrate my friends Shubhra and Tarsh’s wedding. The wedding party took incredible care of us and when we headed off on our own we received extraordinary kindness from the many strangers we met. The company, the food and the colours of India made this the most remarkable holiday and I can’t wait for an excuse to return.
Favourite TV programme?
I lived for Art Attack as a young person. Neil Buchanan introduced me to so many ideas about creativity and had a refreshingly irreverent take on art. And the giant art works he made must have introduced the ideas of scale and form to me as a young person.
Favourite radio show?
John Kelly’s Evening Train on Lyric FM on weekday evenings from 7-9pm is always on while we make dinner and potter about.
It is an education and he’s been a wonderful companion in our lockdown.
Also, Jacqui O’s Saturday morning show on Waterford radio station OpenTempo gave me a reason to get up and at ‘em at 10am on Saturdays.
Café Paradiso in Cork is a long standing favourite and, since our move to Waterford, Everett’s restaurant has become our go to special occasion place. Their Dine at Home offering has helped to celebrate both our birthdays during the lockdown.
Last book you read?
I finished Megan Nolan’s Acts of Desperation in a few days. This debut by the Waterford- reared, London-based writer excavates the pain and confused unmooring of an unsuccessful relationship. I loved it.
Best book you read?
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which we read in 4th class, made an indelible impression on me. I think of it every spring when I see the little green shoots poking up from the ground. Through the magic of caring for the secret garden, and for her cousin, by watching them grow, Mary transforms her own life and outlook too.
Last album/CD/download you bought?
I just bought a Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings record after hearing her on the radio and realising we didn’t have any physical copies of her music in the house. I saw her perform in the Opera House as part of the Jazz Festival a number of years ago and she was electric.
Impossible to say, but a top three could be: The Girl from Ipanema sung by Astrud Gilberto accompanied by Stan Getz for Sunday mornings; Spooky by Dusty Springfield for Saturday evenings when thinking about what to cook for dinner, sipping a cold drink, and Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill for ridiculous emotive interpretive dancing at any time.
Your proudest moment?
Just keeping going makes me proud, keeping my chin up and trying to make the best of things makes me proud of myself and proud of everyone else who has kept on trucking during this pandemic.
What makes you happy?
Being around people I love. Listening to brilliant music. Swimming in the sea. Taking in a load of line-dried, sun-warmed washing. Sipping ice cold rosé on the terrace in my parents’ home. Eating delicious things. Reading something transporting. Having the chats. Cooking. Seeing kindness. Creating. Smelling flowers. Snagging the snug in a favourite pub. Holding sleeping babies. Exploring new cities. Growing things… you know, the usual stuff.
What else are you up to at the moment?
I’m settling in to write a new audio drama for children, a sequel to the sell-out success that was The Snow Queen. This one tells the story of Mattie the Little Robber Girl and her adventures and will hopefully launch in the autumn, funded by an Arts Council bursary.
I’m working online with Activate Youth Theatre in Graffiti, mentoring young people on the design of their next production which we hope to bring to fruition in the summer.
And I’m in the process of designing costumes for a new Junk Ensemble dance piece for children named The Veiled Ones which we are creating over the next few weeks to hopefully premiere for audiences in September. Delighted to be busy making and creating again.