Pushing Form: Innovation and Interconnection in Contemporary European Performance, 25-26 April 2014
Round Table

Pushing Form will feature a round table of Irish theatre practitioners, whose work intersects with European networks and trends.

Joe Devlin became artistic director of Focus theatre, Dublin, in 2002. There, he drew on his background in visual arts and European theatre to push Focus beyond its naturalist traditions towards more diverse and path-breaking work. Under his directorship, Focus produced the series ‘Plays of Changing Europe’ in 2004, and presented Polish Theatre Ireland’s debut production, Radoslaw Paczocha’s Scent of Chocolate, which ran alongside the Dublin Theatre Festival’s Polish Theatre Season in 2010. Joe is project coordinator of the New European Theatre Network, which aims to produce international co-productions based on classic European actor training theories, presented in a contemporary style. He stood down from his role with Focus in November 2013 to establish a new theatre company, Directions Out. However, prior to his career move, he commissioned three books (all published in 2013) that help to chronicle the important and underexplored contribution of Focus to Irish theatre history: Breaking Boundaries: An Anthology of Collected Plays, edited by Steve Birch, Stanislavski in Ireland: Focus at 50, edited by Brian McAvera and Steve Birch, and Transformations (a photographic history of Focus based on an exhibition that Devlin curated as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2013).

Junk Ensemble was established in 2004 by identical twin sisters Megan Kennedy and Jessica Kennedy with a commitment to creating works of brave and imaginative dance theatre. Winners of Best Production Award 2011, Culture Ireland Touring Award in 2008, Excellence and Innovation Award in 2007 and listed as a Sunday Times Highlight in 2011, junk ensemble’s work continues to tour nationally and internationally. Its productions are often created in collaboration with artists from other disciplines to produce a rich mix of visual and performance styles that seeks to challenge the traditional audience performer relationship. This approach has led to productions being created in non-traditional or found spaces as well as more conventional theatre spaces. Junk Ensemble completed a residence and a commissioned work at The Tate, London in February 2012.

PaperDolls performance company comprises three central creative directors, Emily Aoibheann, Elaine McCague and Karen Anderson, an ever changing team of varying numbers, passing collaborators, committed technicians, and guest performers. Formed in early 2011, the company specializes in aerial and circus influenced performance while also exploring the thresholds of multidisciplinary art. The combination of DIY initiative, innovation and resourcefulness and the rarity of aerial in Ireland has contributed to the company’s unique approach to presenting and performing contemporary circus, which fluctuates between physical theatre, visual, sculptural and live art. PaperDolls continually push for a deeper understanding of production and creation in the live art and circus spheres. The core members are fascinated by the influence of multi-disciplinary approaches and cross-disciplinary collaboration and their work contributes significantly to new emerging genres and approaches within Irish and European contexts.

Willie White was director of Dublin’s Project Arts Centre from 2002 to 2011. There, he sought out innovative international performance, presenting companies such as Rimini Protokoll, Gob Squad, Forced Entertainment, New York City Players and Lone Twin. He initiated the international artist residency MAKE, nurtured ground-breaking Irish theatre including the work of Brokentalkers and THEATREclub and established the Project Catalyst initiative. He has been artistic director of Dublin Theatre Festival since 2011 and leads the festival’s participation in the NXTSTP initiative. This involves collaboration with seven other European venues and festivals to promote the co-production and transnational touring of new works by cutting edge European artists, with the aim of fostering artistic renewal in contemporary European performing arts. Willie is currently President of IETM, the international network for the contemporary performing arts. He is coeditor with Peter Crawley of No More Drama (2011), a book on contemporary performance, and he commissioned That Was Us (2013), a book on recent work at Dublin Theatre Festival, edited by Fintan Walsh and published by Oberon Books.