2016 – I had been looking for a project that was both private, poetic and political, and when it was suggested to me that I look at Lorna Shaughnessy’s poems, written around the story of Iphigenia, I was immediately drawn to them. they encapsulated this mixture of personal and epic. I was drawn by the contemporary pain of these characters involved in the sacrifice of Iphigenia which both encompassed the Trojan War and also the wars current in our troubled world.
It was first conceived as a stage piece. It was to be like a storytelling event but at the same time, a drama. It was performed onstage at the newly created ODonoghue centre in NUI Galway by only three actors (Michael Irwin, Catherine Denning and Orla Tubridy) who played the twelve characters between them; bitter soldier; god, hero; King; Priest; Queen ; Princess ; Playwright. Our presentation borrowed a lot from Greek theatre; occasional masks, percussion and the fact that our trio of actors played all the speaking characters, just as in the Greek Theatre tradition. The piece had a courtroom feel as one by one the characters sought to justify their place in the sacrifice of the young princess. It had a strongly powerful collective feel to it, which it also received in birthright as a live event. The audience were taken into the characters confidence, asked to judge. This created a very powerful dynamic, not unlike the soliloquies in a Shakespeare play which pull the audience into the dilemma of the soliloquising character and make the audience somehow culpable in the character’s actions. This is not logical , it is visceral, mysterious and dynamic.
When I was asked to re-imagine this piece online, I immediately started to consider what we could realistically do given the situation we find ourselves in right now. I took the opportunity to invite another seven actors to take part to increase its sense of epic charge (Kate Murray, Eilish McCarthy, John Rice, Conor Geogeghan, Sarah O’Toole, Sam o Fearraigh and Patrick O’Malley) . The actors rehearsed with me on Zoom at first in a group as I felt it was important we got a sense of the ‘Feeling of The Whole’ even though the pieces were monologues. Then we rehearsed separately. Then, separately, they filmed themselves. The instructions for filming were strict but it was important that there was as much uniformity in atmosphere and style as we could get. The sense of atmosphere was paramount to me. This was of course down to the actors creating the atmosphere as much as it was the lighting and the sensitive soundscapes created by Barra Convery which help to evoke much of the world of the piece.
The piece lasts 48 minutes and is available Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8-10.30. You need to get tickets from Eventbrite but they are FREE.
The Sacrificial Wind was first produced by NUI Galway’s Arts in Action programme in conjunction with Chekhov Training and Performance Ireland
Here is the trailer for The Sacrificial Wind by Lorna Shaughnessy online performance video.Director Max Hafler
tickets Free. March 19-21st between 8 pm – 10.30pm GMT book through Eventbrite
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. Video link