Limerick Fringe, we hardly knew ye…

There’s a hole in the Limerick arts scene. A hole in the shape of an international arts festival that attracted talent from far and wide. It’s been three years since the last Limerick Fringe and as an emerging theatre group in based in Limerick we certainly feel the lack. I had the privilege of taking part in all three renditions of the festival in some capacity or another. Through this I got to experience some fantastic shows and I thought the best way to celebrate the short life of Limerick Fringe would be to share these memories with you. Bear in mind I saw these shows actual years ago so some of the details might be a bit sketchy. One final warning. This blog, while written as a celebration of what was, may make you feel sad about what now is. But friends do not be sad because it’s over, be glad because it happened.

Pericles all at Sea – Limerick Fringe 2017

All the way from the North Devon, we have Multi-Story Theatre. I think I’m right in saying that they are the only company to perform at every Limerick Fringe and I saw them every year. Honestly, this entirely blog could be about Multi-Story theatre and their theatrical re-imaginings of classic plays. Pericles all at Sea is based on the play Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare and is the story of a father and daughter separated at birth and the wild adventures and coincidences that they must endure so they can reunite. I won’t dwell too much on the story because for me, the real magic was in how they conveyed character. In 2017, I was a cherub faced 24 year old with a bald spot that “probably won’t get any bigger if I just switch shampoos” and I hadn’t seen nearly enough theatre. So, when I saw the simple techniques Multi-Story employed to play a wide variety of characters on this madcap adventure through the Mediterranean it blew my tiny bald mind. Small, distinctive actions, the way a scarf is worn, colour schemes for the different locations. In a story with so many characters and so many settings, clarity was vital. Not only was it always clear who was speaking, but where the action was taking place. And all it took was a scarf There was a tremendous sense of fun about the piece. I will always remember a King and his daughter observing a jousting competition conveyed by multi-coloured balloons and a needle because not only was it hilarious, but it was also genuinely tense. Absolute magic! And a show I’m confident I would never have gotten to see were it not for Limerick Fringe.

Play on Words – Limerick Fringe 2018

But Limerick Fringe also did a great job of promoting Limerick based talent. Tiger’s Eye Theatre are a real gem of a theatre company (tee-hee) and above all, are just a lovely bunch. Written by Niall Carmody and directed by Shane Hickey O’Mara, with a cast lead by Eleanor and Johanna O’Brien, the Mary Immaculate Dramatic Arts Society was well represented here. Before they formed Tiger’s Eye, they were tearing the Halla down in Mary Immaculate with raw performances of Disco Pigs and Closer, both of which I had the privilege of seeing. As you can imagine I had high hopes for Play on Words, and they did not disappoint. The action takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in which many words were lost. Two women are locked in a cellar/dungeon(?) forced to toil in dark rediscovering/inventing new words for the dictionary. A powerful mix of the dark and playful, the two leads bounced off each other so fluidly, it was almost like they grew up in the same house (tee-hee). I believe it won the Limerick Fringe Emerging Artist award and there would have been a strong case for it to be the best show of the Fringe that year after it’s sold out run in Chez le Fab. If the play is ever revived, I highly recommend you go see it. In the meantime, you could go see their new play Always the Quiet Ones written by Niall Carmody, directed by Shane Hickey O’Mara and lead by Eleanor and Johanna O’Brien. It will be performed on Sat 22nd October in the Teach, Cloverfield, Limerick and on the 28th and 29th October in Glórach Theatre in Abbeyfeale, Limerick.  A must see show from some fabulous Limerick artists.

Hello My Name is Single – Limerick Fringe 2019

So, this one is a bit cheeky. For those who are not aware, I was the director for this wonderful show, written and performed by Lauren McNamara, produced by Treasa O’Rorke and with special thanks going to Aisling White. A marriage of theatre and spoken word poetry, as one reviewer said the play would have you slapping your thighs one minute and drying your eyes the next. It’s the story of life in the dating scene for the terminally single and an interfering granny who knows her way around Tinder and wants some bloody grandchildren. I don’t want to talk too much about the staging of the play because that way masturbation lies. But it did have a sold out run in Narrative 4 and won the Spirit of the Fringe Award 2019 so we must have been doing something right. I do however wish to express my sincere thanks to Lauren McNamara for asking me to be a part of it and to Limerick Fringe. Because of them, I was able to express my creativity and passion in a supportive space and it meant the world to me. It still does. We were extremely lucky to have been invited to stage the play once more as part of the Glastonbury Festival this past June and it brought back wonderful memories of the little festival that could. I wish it could have gone on for many more years, so that other artists could have felt the way I did but it wasn’t meant to be. For now, all we can do is offer our heartfelt thanks to the entire Limerick Fringe team for all the work they put in throughout the festival’s too-short life. Hopefully one day, we’ll meet again.

By Ronan Deegan

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