Branar bringing 1916 to life for young audience

Zita Monahan, Jonathan Gunning and Miquel Barcelo in Maloney's Dream. PHOTO LEON FARRELL/PHOTOCALL IRELAND.
Zita Monahan, Jonathan Gunning and Miquel Barcelo in Maloney's Dream. PHOTO LEON FARRELL/PHOTOCALL IRELAND.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Galway’s Branar Theatre is renowned at home and abroad for its high-quality bilingual children’s theatre, so expectations are high for Maloney’s Dream/Brionglóid Maloney, which will receive its Irish premiere at the city’s Town Hall Theatre on April 6.

This is Branar’s contribution to the 1916 commemorations and will use live music, physical theatre and puppetry to give audiences an insight into what life was like for ordinary people in Dublin at that time.

Maloney’s Dream is geared at a young audiences aged eight and upwards, and “a lot of work has gone into it,” says the Artistic Director of Branar, Marc MacLochlainn who is directing the production.

Marc started developing Maloney’s Dream about three years ago, while working on other projects.

“I wanted to create a show that could be performed in 2016; not something that was just based the Rising but one that was set in the time – to create characters that would give a sense of what life was like for ordinary people in Dublin.”

The play’s central character Thaddeus Maloney dreams of opening a hotel on Sackville Street – now O’Connell Street – on Easter Monday.  But other people also have a dream that’s running parallel to Thaddesus’s – theirs is to have revolution with the GPO as its headquarters.

These two worlds collide at Easter 1916 and that’s where the drama happens.

The play is being performed by six well-known Galway actors, several of whom are acrobats and all of whom are accomplished musicians. And the design team have recreated a hotel as it would have been in 1916.

Marc wrote the show based on documents and diaries from the period, sharing the research with the cast and other team members.

They “found anecdotes and stories that were relevant to us but weren’t just 1916-related”.

These allowed them to explore the human impact of the Rising on the residents of Dublin.

The volume of material meant that a lot of pruning was required, “but once we had our frame and the lens through which we were looking through, that sorted it”, Marc observes.

The ‘frame’ is the hotel, its owner and staff.

“It’s on the top of O’Connell Street and the Rising happens to them, like it happened to most people,” he says.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.