Sisters set the stage for creativity in Cork

Sisters Rosa and Maija Makela are set to take on two different Cork stages this week, writes Jane McNamara
Sisters set the stage for creativity in Cork
Rosa Makela, whose directs a play, called A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, at the Granary Theatre, Wednesday to Saturday, February 6 to 9.

WITH two and a half years between them, Rosa and Maija Makela shared a creative childhood in a thatched cottage in rural Galway. Their mother, Selma Makela, is a painter, while their father, Marcus Molloy, is a musician.

Rosa, 21, who is now studying drama and theatre in UCC, first got into theatre as a teenager.

She says: “When I was 16 I got a part in the play, The Pillowman with Galway theatre company Decadent Theatre, and we did two tours around Ireland. It was because of The Pillowman that I first came to Cork. We performed in The Everyman and I fell in love with the city. There is so much theatre here.

“The experience really cemented in my mind that I wanted to do theatre after school.

“When I got to UCC, I thought I wanted to act. It didn’t even really occur to me that I might want to direct. But eventually, I grew frustrated with acting and bored of bland one-dimensional roles.”

This week, Rosa directs A Girl is a Half-formed Thing at the Granary Theatre, showing from tonight, Wednesday, to Saturday, February 6 to 9.

“Well-written and interesting female roles are quite rare which is why I am so excited to be directing A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, “ said Rosa.

“It is an adaptation of a novel which my sister, Maija, first recommended to me. She has always been a really big influence in terms of books and music. Whenever I’m stuck for something to read or listen to, I ask her!

“The play was first put on by Corn Exchange theatre company as part of the Dublin theatre festival in 2014. It follows the experience of one girl from inside the womb up until she is 20.

“It deals with her relationship with her sick brother as well as an oppressive Catholic upbringing.

“Rehearsing has been really exciting but also challenging. The story deals with a lot of really heavy topics like rape and abuse and the scenes get quite intense and unrelenting at times. But the language in the play is really beautiful, and the girls’ voice is so powerful.

“We will be collecting money for the Cork Sexual Violence Centre each night the play is on. They are such an important organisation and do such amazing work in Cork.”

Maija Sofia, who is performing original music at The Roundy on Saturday night, as part of Quarter Block Party. Picture: Nancy Wilde
Maija Sofia, who is performing original music at The Roundy on Saturday night, as part of Quarter Block Party. Picture: Nancy Wilde

It is also a big week for Rosa’s sister. Maija Sofia, 23, is performing original music at The Roundy on Saturday night, as part of the Quarter Block Party.

Maija is based in Dublin and has performed at Other Voices, Electric Picnic and the London Antifolk festival. This will be her second time performing in Cork.

“The last time I was in Cork I supported John Smith in the Triskel. It was one of my absolute favourite gigs, the venue is amazing,” she said.

“Cork seems to have such a great music scene and is always very warm and welcoming. Katie Kimm and Radie Peat from Lankum covered a song of mine when they were doing the Quiet Lights show here in September, which really helped me get booked. They have been so helpful and kind. It is great when artists support other artists.”

Maija gigs frequently across Ireland and the UK and she is currently recording her first full-length release.

“My songs are very much driven by the lyrics. I am interested in storytelling and setting up interesting narratives.

“Aspects of my songs can be quite political and people often point out the feminist slate but that is not something I sit down to intentionally include in my music.

“In terms of production style, the LP which is currently in the mixing phase will be very low fi and raw. When people describe my style they generally compare me to artists like PJ Harvey, Cat Power and Angel Olson.”

Now studying English in Trinity, Maija moved to London for two years after school.

“I didn’t want to be in college right after school. I wanted to travel and live my life. The music scene in London felt very disparate, there didn’t seem to be one tangible scene. You found your group but I moved between different groups. It was a very formative time for me. I basically spent two years playing open mics and random gigs. The time away was great and I think I came to college with greater knowledge than had I not moved away.

“My sister, Rosa, plays music as well but, so far, we have not really collaborated. The plan is that she will write a one-woman play and I will do the sound for it. That is definitely something we want to do in the future but it might be ten years from now!”

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing at the Granary Theatre showing Wednesday to Saturday, February 6 to 9, at 8pm. Tickets €10. Book tickets on https://granary.ie

Maija Sofia is performing original music at 8.30pm, in The Roundy on Saturday night, as part of Quarter Block Party. See http://quarterblockparty.com

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