Interview with Liv O’Donoghue – After – Dublin Fringe Festival
We had the chance to put some questions to Liv O’Donoghue ahead of the opening of After at the Dublin Fringe Festival. You can see the results below.
“Using live-stream film, physicality and performance, we see the stages of the breakdown, the fallout, all that passed.
Investigating our very human fear of endings, AFTER will take you into the beyond, the bit after the end, when it’s already over. It’s a relief… almost.”
Preview Sep 07 @ 18:15
Dates Sep 08, 10-14 @ 18:15 – Other performance Sep 15 @ 15:30
Venue: Project Arts Centre Space Upstairs
This production is said to have been “partly created north of the Arctic Circle”. Can you explain how and where?
AFTER is a show about the end of the world, so I thought, where better to make it than at the end of the world? So I wrangled a residency at the Arctic Cultural Centre in Hammerfest, the most northerly town in the world, 600km inside the Arctic Circle. It’s an incredible place – a wild, icy and barren island off the coast of Norway – and was ideal for immersing the team in the extremes of what the end might feel like. It was November and at that time of the year the sun never comes above the horizon. It was kind of incredible because it didn’t really matter what time of the day you did stuff, so we’d find ourselves climbing a mountain at midnight or trying not to go to bed at 5pm. It became immediately clear that trying to keep to a normal working day would be futile.
When did you start work on this production? How long does it generally take for something to arrive on stage?
I’ve been planning the work for about 18 months and brought the team together for the first time just under a year ago. I like to work in stages, giving myself plenty of time to digest my thoughts and ideas in between, so we came together through various means every few months. We were lucky enough to have another residency in Pinkafeld, southern Austria, where we lived and worked in an old disused factory building. Following on from that we were back at a small cabin in a forest in Norway, again relatively cut off from the world. Taking myself out of the comforts of my normal life and throwing myself into these strange places is my way of understanding human behaviour. I look at how I react, and how the team interacts in these slightly ‘other’ scenarios. We’re now in the final stretch, spending four weeks in Dublin piecing the show together.
The production deals with a big topic, our “fears of an end to the world”. What in particular inspired it?
Politically and environmentally it feels like the world is at fever pitch right now. Trust, truth and basic ethics are in freefall and rational thinking has been usurped by ego and paranoia. There’s a mild collective panic setting in, and I was interested in tapping into that. Right now, it feels bigger than us, and so we’re not entirely sure where to begin. Instead we float between denial and fear and I guess, just hoping for the best.
In essence, I think it all relates to a very normal human fear around our own mortalities, and I guess, imagining the cruelty that under extreme circumstances, we might all go together. I believe in the finality of things and maybe I’m a pessimist, but I genuinely think the world as we know it will end. I’ve no idea how, or when, but laying it all out bare and seeing what it might really look and feel like is a way of me dealing with it.
Will there be a definite story to this production, something for the performance to be built around?
The show is built around a documentary film we made featuring two subjects, Kip and Clara. We watch and witness their descent towards the end of the world. They move through various stages, from deepest despair and fear, to denial and absolute euphoria, and we see how they cope, how they feel, and how their relationship shifts over time. The physicality of the movement comes from these places in a very naturalistic kind of way. What’s interesting to me is movement that is innately human, and so the physicality comes as an extension to how we are feeling – very simply put, we all know our bodies tighten around fear or anger, and release and open in comfort or joy. That’s how we build the choreography. It comes from the feeling or emotion that the performer is experiencing, and we build on that to create something slightly more theatrically heightened.
The production is said to “combine physicality and performance with documentary footage and live feed video”. It sounds like a highly technical production. What brief did you give to the filmmaker José Miguel Jiménez?
José and I worked very closely and collaboratively so the piece grew alongside the documentary film, with the brief shifting almost daily according to what we had done the day before. The core team of the piece are Kip, Clara, José and myself, and we have developed a way of working that bleeds into real life. We each have our roles – Kip and Clara as subjects, Jose behind the camera, and me directing or facilitating. What you will see on stage is just an extension of this. The documentary is essentially still in progress, and the live feed film is a way of showing the audience a live rendering of the process that we have been through.
This production is being staged as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival. Do you have any recommendations for other events? What do you particularly want to see?
Wow, there’s so much. I’m amazed at what Ruth has managed to put together for her first year as festival director. I’m especially excited about the shows that we’ll be sharing Project Arts Centre’s Space Upstairs with – I’m a big fan of choreographer Philip Connaughton’s work in particular. He always pushes the boundaries of the form and keeps the audience balanced on a tightrope of acerbic wit and humour and devastating pathos and poignancy. His latest show Assisted Solo sounds like it’ll be no different and I can’t wait.