MICK Lynch was a man known to many for many reasons, during his varied four decade music career he, in one chapter, appeared on the cover of Melody Maker in 1987 with his band Stump, and then in another won the Noel Brazil Contemporary Song Competition as part of the 2012 Cork Folk Festival.
He also co-founded Dowtcha Puppets with Cliff Dolliver in 2002, which has gone on to become one of Ireland’s leading puppetry companies and feature regularly with their own float in the Cork Saint Patrick’s Day parade.
Mick’s death in December 2015 at the age of just 56 sparked many tributes in print, in concert, and on the airwaves. After many months of development a full musical theatre piece The Madrugada comes to the stage. The production grew from a few week-long residencies in the Theatre Development Centre in the Triskel Arts Centre over the last year or so. Ironically the TDC is managed by Corcadorca Theatre Company, with whom Mick performed in their legendary production of Clockwork Orange in Sir Henrys Nightclub.
The professional actor and puppeteer Dominic Moore, one of the devisers of the piece along with Mark Watkins, utilises both of his skill-sets in the production, Dominic explained how it all started: “I had a series of meetings with Mark, the composer, and The Madrugada grew from that. Mark had seen my show Mr Punch and wondered if we could base a song cycle utilising Mick’s poetry around a character, a sort of ‘Everyman Of Cork’. As time went on we realised that by bringing in additional members to the group, we could expand our base idea and broaden what we were trying to say, and to tell a story that involved a couple, and their relationship to Cork.”
This production has been in no way rushed, as they both teased out many ideas and brought other collaborators into the fold.
“Vicki Keating was invited in, as she is a fantastic vocalist, along with Ruti Lachs, who is able to play so many instruments, and quickly we found ourselves as a group proper. We grew a loyal following from our first showing at TDC, we’ve since shown how we are progressing three times, and like everyone else who uses the venue we must commend this valuable resource. The following are made up of ‘ol heads’ who would have know Mick and also a group of new ‘young wans’ who are interested in what we are doing on a theatrical level.”
The criteria for using the TDC is that you have free and complete access to the rehearsal/performance space from Monday to Friday but you must do a free public showing on the Friday and have a Q&A afterwards with the people who have came along. Dominic considers those showings as crucial to how the piece has developed, “we had great feedback from these groups, we knew we were on a right path when they were so appreciative. There have been some ‘wow’ moments that come from people who come up afterwards saying ‘F**k — that’s great!’. We really don’t have a clue because we’re making it up as we go and hoping, from our combined experience in our fields, that the show will ‘work’. At the end of the day, people pay their money to be educated and entertained. We as performers will work hard to fulfill this for you, our audience.”
An important thing for Dominic and his co-creators is that The Madrugada isn’t construed as a musical about Mick, but rather as a piece based on him and his work, “we don’t see the show as an ‘homage’ to Mick at all. We feel we have been granted a gift, to use these works to the best of our ability and to forge a new artistic sculpture with them. We hope Mick would approve. Mick’s sister Marie has been invaluable in her support. There’s a phrase that goes “tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire”. We interpreted his work in a way he would not be aware of. Having said that, we have treated the work with deep respect. We haven’t changed any of it. In essence we have let Mick’s writing do a lot of the work for us in the show.”
From all of Mick’s various songs, scripts and sketches, one has stood out to Dominic as they created Madrugada, “a standout work of his for us has been ‘The Preachain’, it describes our relationship to Cork. We are a tribe apart, we see things differently, we behave in a different way, we speak a language all of our own. You could apply this to any area of the globe but we are lucky in that we have a wordsmith like Mick to articulate it for us.”
The Madrugada: A Cork Odyssey With The Words Of Mick Lynch runs in the Stack Theatre in the CIT Cork School Of Music, Friday and Saturday (March 29/30) at 8pm. Tickets at door, €12/€10.