Galway has a lot to offer European theatre


Galway Theatre Festival’s Galway 2020 project, Interaction, took it’s first public step with the Make a Move programme this week. With the aim of building capacity of local artists to work with digital technologies in theatre, Make a Move is the perfect opportunity for Galway practitioners to meet and work with their European peers, says Galway Theatre Festival’s Máiréad Chróinín.

Can you tell us why you decided to take part in Make a Move?

I am a big Europhile – I did an Erasmus year in the Czech Republic, and even went and worked in the European Commission for six months after I graduated from university.  I’ve always appreciated those opportunities and the chance it gave me to meet so many people from Europe and beyond, and while I was Festival Director of Galway Theatre Festival, I thought it would be a good idea to try to foster those types of opportunities for young Galway artists.  Luckily, the Creative Europe desk of the Arts Council sent out a ‘partner request’ from an organisation in Rijeka (Croatia) who were putting together a Creative Europe application.  I read the proposal and it sounded like something that would be right up GTF’s street – its focus was bringing together a group of mid-career independent theatre artists from around Europe and allowing them time to create together and learn new skills.  So, we applied and were invited to join the consortium of four partners – ourselves, the project leaders from Croatia, a partner from Spain and a partner from Romania.  Make a Move ended up being the first step in the overall InterAction project – it will allow InterAction to build the capacity of local artists to work with digital technologies in theatre, as well as giving them a great opportunity to meet and work with their European peers.  


What you hope to achieve through taking part, and how you would like it to impact on the Galway theatre community?

I am involved with Make a Move as the Galway Project Manager, on behalf of Galway Theatre Festival.  Our main activity as part of Make a Move will be the ‘Digital Practices’ creative lab, which we’ll be hosting in Galway from 24 April 4 May this year.  We’re hosting nine artists from Europe and 11 artists from Galway and around Ireland, and they’ll all be working in Galway City and out in Áras Éanna on Inis Oirr for 10 days.  We have workshops in mobile journalism, blogging, and online audience development; digital mapping, interactive technologies, and 360 filming; and fundraising, sponsorship and self-producing.  We hope the artists will come away with a lot of new skills, and, most importantly, with new creative connections, and go on to use these skills and connections to create exciting new works of theatre that will engage the Galway community. 

“Galway has a lot to offer European theatre – we have a very particular aesthetic and approach to theatre making, and it’s great that that might be made more visible around Europe as part of Galway 2020.” 

How will the Galway arts community benefit from working on a European stage, in your opinion?

One of the exciting things about working in theatre in Galway is the amount of people living and working here from around Europe.  There are people working in theatre in Galway from Romania, Croatia, Germany, Spain, France and many other countries.  So, in that sense, I feel like theatre in Galway is already quite ‘European’ in a way.  At the same time, it is very exciting to have the opportunity to forge new connections, particularly with like-minded organisations in Europe.  The theatre in Europe is often responding to issues that we haven’t quite started addressing in theatre in Ireland in general – questions around inter-culturalism, climate change, neoliberal economics, etc. – and so it’s great to be challenged and inspired by what is currently being created in Europe.  And, I think Galway has a lot to offer European theatre – we have a very particular aesthetic and approach to theatre making, and it’s great that that might be made more visible around Europe as part of Galway 2020. 


What would you like to see happening for theatre in Galway throughout and beyond 2020?

I would like to see theatre becoming valued by everyone in Galway City and County for the incredible experiences and opportunities it offers.  It would be wonderful if everyone in Galway – of whatever age – had a powerful and lasting experience of great theatre as part of 2020.  It’s important too that those experiences are not just associated with artists / companies who are brought in from abroad – Galway has huge theatrical talent of its own and it’s vital that the people of Galway get to experience that talent and feel proud of it, and want to support it into the future.  On a practical level, into the future, it’s hugely important that physical infrastructure is put in place to sustain theatre-making in the city and county.  There are no dedicated spaces for theatre-making in the city, and this is a major limitation to the development and sustainability of theatre here.  Beyond 2020, I would love to see theatre in Galway becoming a well-resourced, valued part of Galway life that enriches and inspires everyone in the city and county, connects us to each other and to Europe, and puts Galway on the world map as a place of new ideas, creative ambition and social integrity. 

About Máiréad

Máiréad is from Galway where she established Moonfish Theatre, with her sister Ionia, in 2006. The company has created work in English and Irish and has toured its work nationally and presented it at festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe, Galway Theatre Festival, Galway International Arts Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival and the Dublin Fringe. Most recently, she worked with Moonfish on its devised adaptation of Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea, and with the company on Moonfish Pop-Up Worlds: Memory Paths, a project commissioned by Riverbank Arts Centre and Kildare Library Services.  Moonfish’s production Redemption Falls, based on Joseph O’Connor’s follow-up novel to ‘Star of the Sea’, will premier in Galway in July 2019. 

Máiréad was Festival Director of Galway Theatre Festival from 2014 – 18.  She holds a PhD in theatre and mobile technology and has created a number of works related to this area, including the gaming/theatre experience ‘Just In Time’ for the Dublin Fringe 2012, and an augmented reality application ‘Medieval Ghost Hunt’ for the Galway Early Music Festival 2014.  

About Make A Move

The Make a Move project will execute and test an innovative Art Incubator program, designed particularly for non-institutionalised theatre practitioners and small independent cultural operators primarily from the field of contemporary movement-based theatre with the first group of 10 full-time participants and 30 auditing participants from at least 5 European countries who will have the opportunity to develop their artistic and professional skills and grow their production proposals through co-creation processes in collaboration with the international group of artists.