Arts and Cultural Diversity

Between Land and Water

Between Land and Water
Between Land and Water. Photo: Kilian Waters

Outlandish Theatre Platform and women from the Dublin 8 community

Funded by the Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme

In the Grand Canal Community of Dublin 8 Outlandish Theatre Platform invited Arabic/Muslim women through an open and active call out. In total 25 women took part in the project from inception to presentation.

With Between Land and Water, lead artist Maud Hendricks wished to make an inter-media theatre intervention (performance, sound and film) in the public arena of Dublin 8, sharing reflections of Arabic/Muslim women’s interpretations of elements of the landscape with the pedestrian public.

As a resident of Dublin 8, Maud was struck by how people of Arabic/Muslim descent and other residents of this area moved through the public arena like oil and water. Her opening question was “what causes this separation without apparent friction?”. Coming from the Netherlands which has third and fourth generation immigration this pattern felt alien. Maud wanted to invite herself on a daily journey with first generation Arabic/Muslim women and connect in this new way to the landscape familiar to her. Samuel Beckett’s Come and Go was the catalyst for conversation about public living experiences in Dublin 8 from a first generation migrants’ perspective.

Come and Go is a play about 3 women meeting on a bench, whose heads and eyes are covered: Costume direction: Full-length coats, buttoned high, dull violet (RU), dull red (Vi), dull yellow (Flo). Drab non-descript hats with enough brim to shade faces. Apart from colour differentiation three figures as alike as possible. Light shoes with rubber soles. Hands made up to be as visible as possible. No rings apparent.

Outlandish Theatre Platform’s projects start with qualitative conversations with a newly formed group of individuals. Maud and Bernie O’Reilly, assistant director, resist working with existing groups as they feel the group dynamic overpowers the specifics of each individual’s narrative. This process of finding participants is time consuming, as individual connections have to be made and trust gained. After a month a group of fifteen diverse Muslim women from eight diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds was formed.

With mentor Sarah Jane Scaife, a Beckett specialist and theatre director, four Research and Development Come and Go workshops were held at the Lantern Centre in Synge Street, Dublin 8 with a total of 15 participants.

During the research and development, the women decided that Come and Go was “like a prayer, in a world without a God”. They were fascinated with the man Samuel Beckett and wondered if Beckett was Godless or God fearing and why he wrote the way he did.

After the successful research and development phase was over and the long-term project had started, approximately ten participants chose not to continue the project due to precarious living circumstances for some, and religious beliefs preventing taking part in a public performance for others. The five participants now left were of Irish, Syrian/Palestinian, Algerian, Pakistani and British descent.

The project’s challenges were to marry the vision of the project, to make a public intervention, with the participants’ requests for anonymity and their apprehensions in performing publicly. Creating a rehearsal schedule that matched the chaotic logistics of the participants’ lives and a rehearsal room friendly to participants’ children was challenging. Some of the interview and writing sessions were held in participants’ houses as a result. In addition, organising an outdoor public screening of Between Land and Water proved difficult.

This was a pioneering project resulting in a theatre documentary led by the participants’ – diverse first generation migrants – boundaries in presentation of self on screen and in public. The film, a theatre documentary, connects the visual landscape of Dublin 8 to the women’s aural and physical explorations, anonymously.

Between Land and Water was presented at Create’s National Networking Day, IMMA. December 2014, as well as at Dis/placed Festival, Shoreditch Townhall, London, in collaboration with performance artist Natasha Davis and Counterpoints Arts London, in June 2015. A screening of Between Land and Water was held at the Celebration of Muslim Cultures event at Liberty Hall, January 2016.

Continued collaboration with one of the participants led to the writing and producing of a new play, Megalomaniac: a war play written from a migrant’s perspective in Ireland, which premiered at the Dublin Fringe Festival to a mixed audience of non-traditional and traditional theatre go-ers.

About the Artist

Maud Hendricks is artistic director and writer director of Outlandish Theatre Platform. As a theatre maker and collaborator her background in human geography and her experience as a performer informs her. She exercises a theatre of enquiry into physical and social places and environments in Dublin and responds through new theatre work. Her practice depends on quality engagements with community participants.

In her work she creates alternative narratives to the perceived dominant social dynamics, by exploring what it means to live in Ireland in 2018. OT Platform is theatre company in residence at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital in Dublin 8, where there is no theatre. Here we enjoy the use of space and technical support in the development and presentation of new work in conversation with the hospital and its patients from all over Ireland. We form a link between the national hospital and the area it’s positioned in and are committed to the making of new work for new audiences.

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Artist in the Community Scheme