HISTORY – Project Arts Centre – Interview with Gerard Kelly

historyTHEATREClub have never been afraid to tackle the big subjects. Now following on from the award winning Heroin, and The Family; they bring us the final part in the trilogy about Ireland: History. History looks at the site of the St. Michaels Estate in Inchicore, and the symbols left there of Ireland’s social history over the last hundred years. It is a site that housed 1916 revolutionaries; that holds the remains of social housing campaigner W. T. Cosgrave; and that still fights for the regeneration it has been promised 4 times in the last 15 years. I caught up with performer Gerard Kelly, to find out more:

So can you tell me a bit about the show, and your role in it?

Well the show is huge. It’s 100 years of history on 14 acres of land. We go from the proclamation in 1916 to the injustices of the present day and talk about what we want for the future and how we can achieve it. We are trying to present every side to every story we’re tackling and have a laugh along the way too. I play a narrator of sorts. I jump in and out of scenes to try and make things clearer for the audience: Like a Dublin Zack Morris.

You’ve worked with Theatre Club a few times before: what is it that you enjoy particularly?

It’s a collaboration. We’re all in it together. I think I heard Barry (O’Connor) answering this question once by saying there’s a great short hand; which I think is a good point. We don’t beat around the bush too much with each other. We know each other so well and are such good mates, that we can just hop into a scene or something without thinking about it. And it’s good craic because everyone is funny!

How would you describe their style of work?

Theatrically, it’s extremely detailed without looking that way. Obviously it’s very socially engaged and committed to making a positive change in society. The acting style is very improvisational most of the time, although ‘History’ is very text based because there’s a good few facts and figures that need to be heard, so we’ll see how that goes. Maybe we’ll end up ad-libbing everything, making up new dates and scenes and recreating history because we can’t learn our lines!

Does an awareness of the historical events the show is based on add pressure to how you present it?

I think we’ve done enough work to be comfortable with what we’re talking about. We’ve been researching and working on the material for two years now, and what I’ve realized is that there’s more than three sides to every story: It’s impossible to get everything right, but if you try to represent as many sides as you can, you have to be doing something right. We’re also very careful how we hand our history back to ourselves.

You’re very musical as well. Is this the first opportunity to make use of this as part of a show?

Yeah it’s the first time I’ve done that. I sang and played guitar in Druid’s production of ‘The Silver Tassie’, but the music was composed by someone else. With ‘History’ there was a lot of jamming. Barry, Seán (Millar) and I would head into a room with a load of instruments; Grace (Dyas, the director) would say what she wanted a certain part of the play to feel like, and we’d try to play that feeling. Sometimes we’d listen back to recordings and go “Jesus Christ that’s horrible!” but then there’d be a tiny moment or an accidental chord or note or something, that would suit the scene perfectly.

What’s coming up next for you: Is Confusion Boats (the piece Gerard created for Dublin Fringe 2012) returning?!

Confusion Boats is actually coming up next for me! It’s going to be up from Jan 2nd First Fortnight Festival. So I’ll be trying to beat lines into my head over the Christmas. After that I’ll be focusing a lot more on the song-writing and gigging as much as I can, then hopefully by mid 2014 I’ll have my debut EP mixed, mastered and listened to a couple of times.

History runs in the Project Arts Centre from 18 December 2013-22 December 2013 at 7.30pm (6pm on December 22nd). Tickets are available from or +353 1 8819 613. Confusion Boats is on from January 2nd – 11th in the New Theatre.

Interview by Emily Elphinstone


Categories: interview, Theatre

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