Joy here again!
My MFA program has been very busy, yet incredibly fulfilling. We have just started Term 2 and the transition has been very helpful. In Term 1, we spent a lot of time focusing on text. We started with directing scenes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Prior to this program, I had spent a lot of time directing Shakespeare plays without spending much time with the iambic pentameter or exploring why the imagery is necessary in characters’ speech. Through my experience, I’ve learned how to better use the rhythmic qualities of Shakespearean language to my directorial advantage. I’m most proud of my direction of the scene between Portia and Brutus in the style of The Dick Van Dyke Show. By using the rhythm and intentions of each line in the scene, I was able to turn Julius Caesar into a conventional retro sitcom.
Now that we are in Term 2, our focus will be on making visual choices that deepen the drama of a theatrical piece. We’re currently working a lot on exploring innovative approaches to blocking as well as props. We will also be creating devised theatrical performances by the end of May, in which each director and a group of actors will work together to create a completely new piece of theatre that speaks to our personal experiences. I’m super excited to get started on that!
I also had my directorial debut in Dublin in February. My classmate, Maku Sisakova, and I co-directed a new play called Canonical for the 2022 Scene + Heard Festival at the historic Smock Alley Theatre. Canonical was written by Scout Black about the victims of Jack the Ripper. This feminist piece was especially timely and poignant in light of the senseless murder of Ashling Murphy. The proceeds from this production went towards the Dublin Rape Crises Center, and it ended up being especially fulfilling to create work that explored the societal indicators that perpetuate violence against women.
Aside from my academic and theatrical work, I have been able to explore Ireland a little further during my weekends. In January, some of my friends and I were able to attend Saint Anne’s Park between Raheny and Clontarf. We were able to explore a weekend market and buy some new Irish cheeses! I really loved this park and will definitely be going back as soon as possible.
In February, alongside the other Mitchell scholars, my trip to Belfast was especially eye opening. I had never been to the North of Ireland and was really surprised by the difference in dialogue around identity in Belfast as compared to Dublin. I am very interested in the idea that Irish identity in Dublin is currently in the process of evolving to reflect the histories of the Troubles while also forging a new identity. By comparison, I felt that Belfast was still in the process of dealing with the Troubles as a main part of Belfast identity. I would really like to explore this further and return to Belfast to see how this affects Northern Irish art and theatre.
Early this month, I was able to visit Cork for the first time, which was probably my favorite trip I’ve had in Ireland. Cork is a city filled with character, and just by walking around the city, I was enamored with the go-with-the-flow attitude as well as the very different accent. I will certainly be returning to Cork as soon as I can to explore the arts scene further and get some good vibes again.
Finally, I was able to celebrate my first St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin! What a rush! I was able to go to the parade and celebrate with a proper Guinness. There were so many people out and I even got to listen to some trad music and do a little bit of dancing in celebration.
Excited to see what my spring and summer in Ireland looks like!
Sending positive energy to all!