WestWorks Theatre hits ground running

Aoife Delaney Reid and Anna Doyle. PHOTO: BACK TONGUE VISUAL MEDIA.
Aoife Delaney Reid and Anna Doyle. PHOTO: BACK TONGUE VISUAL MEDIA.

It’s 20 years since Sarah Kane’s controversial play 4.48 Psychosis was staged in London, offering an unparalleled insight into clinical depression and tackling taboos around mental health.

Kane took her own life shortly afterwards, aged 29, which gave the play an even greater poignancy and relevance.

Now, a new Galway company, WestWorks Theatre Company, is staging a fresh production of the work which it hopes will stimulate conversation about mental health and how the language we use around it has changed in the past 20 years.

“Unconventional, fierce and tragic”, is how Féilim Ó hAoláin of WestWorks describes 4.48 Psychosis. The Furbo man is one of four people involved in the new company which will stage the site-specific piece in Galway City’s Gallery 126 from next Monday, April 16, to Saturday, April 21.

“We wanted a company that would create the kind of work we wanted to see but that wasn’t being done already, work that would spark conversation and discussion,” says Féilim about WestWorks.

Co-founder Kieron Smith is directing this play. Formerly of Cavan Theatre Festival, he and Féilim first encountered each other when they worked with Galway Theatre Festival a couple of years ago. Féilim moved to Minneapolis in November 2016, and when he returned late last year, they reignited the idea. While in the USA, where he worked arts fundraising, Féilim was involved with a company called Mixed Blood, which has a social and political (with a small p) remit.

“It’s in a small ghetto and people will tell you not to go there, but it’s a brilliant company,” says Féilim, outlining how Mixed Blood brings marginalised groups to the centre, in terms of taking part in and attending shows.

These are the aspirations Féilim and Kieron, with co-founders Marciana Negrea and Conor Geoghegan have for WestWorks Theatre.

“Kieron had been thinking of doing 4.48 Psychosis and we all thought it was an interesting choice because we’ve had our own meetings with mental health issues through other people,” says Féilim. “It tackles mental health head on and we’d see it as a way to discuss these issues.”

He believes theatre should challenge our views of life and create a platform for discussions.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.