Monday, February 8, 2010

IN ROOM 116



SHAKESPEARE - SONNET 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
In Room 116, the play I went to see tonight, written by 2nd year Drama and Theatre student Emma Houlihan and directed by Mairead O'Donoghue is based on the above sonnet of Shakespeare. Mairead was making her directorial debut with this new work by Emma, who has another play running from Thursday through to Saturday in the Kat Club in Cork. Hope it goes really well for you Ema.

I had no idea what to expect as I drove along the M8 and through the toll station, but for some reason the words 'lunatic asylum' came springing to mind. (when the content of the play unfurls, I realize that perhaps I might not have been too far off the mark) Unfortunately, the Granary Theatre was not available for this production and was consequently moved to Boole 4 lecture hall on the UCC campus. Now lecture halls are certainly not condusive to theatrical performance, even taking into consideration the histrionics of some professors of English or Celtic Civilization. However, the director and cast had no other option.


The play approximately 20 minutes long, centres around two couples, 'in love'. The action moves from one couple to the other in a discussion about firstly the nature of 'true love' and whether there is, indeed, any such thing. The couple on stage left have been together for seven years, and it seems that 'getting hitched' is part of the natural progression of things, which in itself, feels a little too claustrophobic for comfort. The other couple face another kind of entrapment. He is in the middle of grieving for his recently deceased father, while his partner, a writer with an obsessive behaviour disorder, manifested by continually folding blankets, is experiencing a writer's block. She is reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which her partner describes as 'chick-lit.' He asks her whether she believes in 'true love', to which she answers... 'No!'


The male character with the dead father needs to project his voice more, but I think this was all due to nerves. This was his very first acting role and first time on stage, and I think he was acutely aware of the audience, since the house lights in the lecture hall could not be turned off. However, that said, it was very evident that Mairead had done some really good work with the dynamics between both couples, and at no time did I feel awkward or uncomfortable. Performances were very well-observed and realized. Computer problems meant that Mairead's photographs of the couples did not come up onto the screen throughout the action as planned, but she did manage to show her images to the audience at the end.


I met Jane, Roisin and Sophie, and nabbing Mairead, we toddled into the Main Restaurant for tea and coffee to catch up on what is happening in each others' lives etc.. Sophie is back from France, while Jane and Roisin are back from the U.S. Laughing and hugging, we promise to work on a project together in May, as we bid each other farewell. I gave Mairead a lift home, and we chat one of our 'chats' outside her house with the engine running for almost two hours.


Mairead like Jane, Roisin and Sophie is an exceptionally creative human being. I am already in awe of her skills as an actress and musician, and judging by this evening's performance, she may also have a future in directing. It had been some time since we had had one of our 'chats' and we both said how much we had missed them. She talks me through the work she had done with her actors during rehearsals, and we re-visit the photographs she had taken, from behind bushes and trees, in an attempt to leave her actors in a freedom to find their own rhythm and harmony. We talk mostly about the nature of art, performance and life. I had forgotten how passionate she is, her indignation at the injustices of this world, her love of acting, and how she wants to use the theatre and her talents to afford change. She sat in the passenger seat... animated... charged with a joy for life that would keep the whole of Cork lit up for weeks. She remembers enthusiastically my ideas for Documentary Theatre, and that she would like to come on board. As she talks excitedly, I drift a little, and realize that I have been merely treading water for the last few months.


She asks me then, close-up and personal, whether I believe in 'true love' and what would be my definition of it's nature. There is a silence that seems to last longer than it should. I eventually answer that 'yes' I do believe in 'true love', a love that doesn't try to change the other, but supports and inspires the other to fulfil his/her potential. There should be no guilt trips or attempts to hold the other back because of one's own insecurities. She smiles. I think she also believes. We kiss and say goodbye.


I drive back to Tipperary, overjoyed, gratefully expectant about two projects that I had put on the back boiler. The usual 'debate with self' procedure continues as I soar home along almost empty roads. 'Yes' I believe in 'true love' for this universe, for our fellow man and our 'soul-mates' in this life and the next, inspite of the lunacy that sometimes accompanies it!


So too did Shakespeare, as shown by the last two lines of his sonnet!


Thank you Mairead for bringing Emma's play to life and for reminding me of what I should be at!

1 comment:

mairéad O'Donoghue said...

Hi Maureen your blogspot is excellent I must read everything and maybe set up one too! hope all's well with you. oh! I might get to be a singer in a band.

Mairéad.