Music

Q&A with Alma Kelliher – Wake – Dublin Fringe Festival

Q&A with Alma Kelliher – Wake – Dublin Fringe Festival

WAKE premieres at the National Stadium, as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival, Sep 8 – 17

We got the chance to put some questions to Alma Kelliher, the Music Director of Thisispopbaby about their new production, WAKE, which will run at the Dublin Fringe Festival. you can see the results below.

Find out more about Alma Kelliher here.

You seem to work in many musical ventures, including being a member of folk trio The Evertides and your solo act Lux Alma. Does it keep your work interesting to have so many different strands? 

It really does keep it interesting. I get to work with so many different people and learn so much, whether as a session player, a solo artist/band member, a sound designer or working with sound and music for film. All the different disciplines inform each other in a really interesting way and the sensibilities of one can really enrich the other; whether bringing a sense of theatricality to a music gig, for example, or the rigour and detail of session playing to music for theatre.

You have worked in a lot of theatre productions. How did this come about? Have you always had an interest in the area? 

I’ve been working in theatre for more than 10 years but to be honest I kind of fell into it. I studied sound design but more for live art/film. A friend who is a director needed a sound designer for a play and I blagged a bit and said I could do it (how hard could it be?!). I learned A LOT on that show and I really enjoyed it because in theatre there’s a real sense of shared creative endeavour. Everything is meticulously worked through and you all strive together to create a feeling and an atmosphere. The camaraderie is brilliant and you’re pushed beyond your own creative limits towards a shared goal.

You worked with THISISPOPBABY previously on ‘Riot’. Were you surprised by its success? It just seemed to run and run. 

I’ll never forget the first preview we ever did of RIOT. We had created this show in the rehearsal room, and it was super fun and we worked incredibly hard at it, but you just never know until it’s in front of an audience how it’s going to go. The intensity of the audience reaction was such that I was on stage, crying my eyes out as we sang the last number. It was incredible. THISISPOPBABY are really, really good at understanding what burns in the heart of their audience at any given time. And for RIOT it was a time of civic and social uprising with REPEAL and Marriage Equality. The show was a call to arms and a party all in one and it was exactly what Ireland (and it turns out, Australia, America and Canada) needed. WAKE taps into a different thing, but it also shows a deep sensitivity to what currently makes us tick; what we need to hear, what we need to share together and the catharsis that can come from it. It’s special, and the Pop Babies are special people. I’m so grateful to be in their creative family.

How do you create the music for a production such as this? Are you involved throughout the rehearsal period of the show? 

For WAKE, I am the composer, musical director, sound designer and performer. So I’m involved in a very big way throughout the rehearsal! We’ve been creating this show through various development periods since 2018 and I’ve been involved since then. It starts with offers of ideas on paper, then some demos of tracks that I just create in my studio, then bringing together musicians to bring those tracks into a live musical context. And finally, in the rehearsal period over the last five weeks, developing and tweaking those pieces to fit with what’s going on on stage, be that aerial performance, spoken word, dance etc. It’s still developing and improving and will continue to do so until opening night. There’s always room to make it a little better!

Can you tell our readers what to expect from this show? 

Expect a brilliantly fun night out with a wild journey through beauty, hilarity, heartfelt sentiment, incredible skill and about 75kg of glitter. Expect some incredible live music from some of Ireland’s best traditional musicians, aerial magic that will make your jaw drop, and most importantly, a truly shared experience of grieving for all that we’ve been through in the last few years.

Will you go to many other Dublin Fringe Festival productions this year and if so, what?

Unfortunately, we’re performing throughout the whole festival so I won’t get to see any other shows but if I had time I’d be going to Accents by Emmet Kirwan at Project Arts Centre, I’d go to Growler at Dublin Castle and Absent the Wrong by Dylan Coburn Gray who wrote the brilliant text for WAKE.

Thisispopbaby’s latest stage extravaganza, WAKE premieres at the National Stadium, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival, Sep 8 – 17 https://www.fringefest.com/festival/whats-on/wake

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