Interview with Gary Keegan – Brokentalkers – Blue Boy

The Blue Boy as part of 2011 Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival.

We had the chance to interview Gary Keegan of Brokentalkers ahead of the opening of The Blue Boy in the Project Arts Centre in April. You can see the results below.

The Blue Boy – Project Arts Centre – 08 Apr 2016-09 Apr 2016 – Dance/Theatre

In the past, you have used interviews with people as building block for your productions. Was it the same in this case?

Yes. We interviewed many people while making this production. It was important for us to learn as much as we could about the Industrial School system. We worked with Right of Place in Cork and the Aislinn Centre in Dublin which are organizations working with survivors of institutional child abuse. We interviewed men and women who were incarcerated as children in church-run institutions. Parts of these interviews are played in the performance.

Why did you decide to make a performance on this topic? Are you ever afraid people will be put off by the subject matter?

In one of the early interviews with a well known religious affairs journalist he talked about the public suffering from ‘compassion fatigue’ when it came to this topic of historical child abuse. We wondered if the way in which these stories were mediated was responsible for this switching off. Our challenge was to make people listen again and to recognize that history can and will repeat itself, if we as a society are not vigilant.

Gary Keegan and Feidlim Canon of Broken TalkersPic Darragh Kane

Gary Keegan and Feidlim Canon of Broken Talkers – Pic Darragh Kane

Do you ever alter productions during their run? Do you treat them as fluid or set in stone?

Nothing is set in stone. Nothing is above or beyond altering.

This was originally a part of the Theatre Festival in 2011. Has it changed much since the original production?

Yes. We have been fortunate to have had many opportunities to re-stage The Blue Boy all over the world, and each time we do, we learn something new. Each time we get back into a rehearsal room we make changes. We edit and update the show and this keeps us interested and it keeps the show fresh.

This production combines ‘choreography with live music, multimedia and film’. As you co-direct with Feidlim Cannon, do you each focus on different aspects?

I perform in The Blue Boy. My focus is very different to Feidlim’s now. I have a lot to do in the show between text, singing, playing. So he directs and I perform. We made the show together with composer Sean Millar and movement director Eddy Kay, lighting designer Sarah Jane Sheils, sound designer Jack Cawley and video designer Kilian Waters. The work is so well supported by this team.

Was it important to tour this piece, so that it could be seen all over Ireland?

It is important that Irish audiences see this piece because it is about them. As Irish citizens we are written into the narrative of The Blue Boy. It is an Irish story. And at the same time it is a global story and a local one. It is a story about abuse of power. And it serves as a reminder that we as a society need to stay vigilant the to potential abuse of the most venerable in our society.

Are there any other productions in the pipe works? When can we expect to see Brokentalkers return with a new piece?

We are currently working on a piece called Natural History of Hope which is a collaboration with artist Fiona Whelan and Rialto Youth Project. The piece is based on hundreds of testimonies from women who live and work in Rialto, Dublin. Natural History of Hope will be performed in Project Arts Centre from the 12th – 14th May.



The Blue Boy – Project Arts Centre – 08 Apr 2016-09 Apr 2016 – Dance/Theatre

Performed by Lucy Andrews, Dylan Coburn Gray, Eddie Kay, Jessica Kennedy, Megan Kennedy

Directed by Gary Keegan and Feidlim Cannon

Choreography by Eddie Kay

Original Music by Seán

Images by Daniel Keane


Blueboy BrokenTalkers

Categories: Header, interview, Theatre

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