PERFORMANCE POET Kate Tempest has been one of the most exciting and acclaimed new voices to emerge in Britain over the past decade, and Galway’s NoRopes Theatre Company is about to present the Irish premiere of her high-octane play, Wasted, directed by Mairéad Folan.
Wasted is set in the mid-1990s and presents three old friends in their mid-twenties. For Ted (Cormac Culkeen ), Danny (Adrian Lavelle ), and Charlotte (Deirdre Bhreatnach ), whose lives are in a rut, it's time to seize control and change things.
Mairéad Folan describes Wasted as “a hybrid of Skins and Peep Show.” Its theme of young people hitting disillusionment after the hedonistic freedom of adolescence makes it an ideal production for NoRopes, and will bring its audience through a rollercoaster of emotions and memories.
This is NoRope’s second full production since the company debuted in August 2015 at the Town Hall studio with Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s The Open Couple. That production met with a warm welcome and a sold out run. This led to another sold out run of the play in early 2016. Last spring, the company gave a thrilling work-in-progress staging of Wasted, utilising surround-sound, as part of Galway Theatre Festival. NoRopes now returns to Nuns Island Theatre to stage the full production of Wasted.
Over a Friday afternoon coffee, director Folan talked about NoRope’s staging of Wasted and began by telling me how she first encountered the play. “When I was doing the MA in theatre in NUIG me and this other girl, Lisa Fitzgerald, co-founded a discussion group called Performance Matters where every fortnight we’d meet and discuss a play," she says. "Lisa recommended Wasted for one discussion so I read it and immediately could hear the voices in the play all around me, which led to the idea of doing it using surround sound which is how I then did it for Galway Theatre Festival. I’d read it even before we did The Open Couple but decided straight away that this play was definitely going in our repertoire.”
She goes on to outline NoRopes’ approach to the play: “The script says the characters come on stage using microphones and I get why Kate Tempest did that because she raps and performs using a mic but for me it can be too much and I’m interested in clearly hearing the voices of every person. In the work-in-progress staging the first chorus piece was done totally in darkness, not to confuse the audience but to get them unsettled like breaking the fourth wall, and that worked well. Padraic Naughton who is ED of Arts Disability Ireland was there and he has a visual impairment and while other audience members were feeling on edge he felt really comfortable so that was interesting.”
NoRopes’ staging has other interesting deviations from the play’s original English production. “To make the play more immersive we’re going to do it ‘semi’ in the round,” Folan reveals. “Also, we’re not using film at all, which the original production did; I often find it very distracting in theatre. Our set is going to be simple ,it’s basically the light and the sound which will establish where each scene it set.
"The play is about its characters being stuck in a rut but I felt that the original production had a negative vibe in portraying that. It reminded me of how Galway has sometimes been described as the graveyard of dreams, but you don’t have to succumb to that idea, you can break out of it if you want to. We’ve changed the setting from London to Galway and that works really well because the word ‘tribes’ is mentioned a lot in the text so it’s a perfect fit.
"We didn’t set out to be different from the original, but as we went through the text changing the tone of certain scenes and characters we realised the play is more meaningful than the original production.”
I ask Folan if it was easy getting the performance rights for this Irish premiere production. “It was harder than I expected it to be!” she declares. “I thought at first we’d just have to pay a fee but it turned out I had to send Kate Tempest’s agent a NoRopes' CV, our company manifesto, my own directing CV, and exactly what I planned to do with the script before we secured the rights.”
Clearly Tempest and her people approved of NoRopes’ artistic credentials and intentions. The creative team includes Matt Burke (lighting ); Bryan Rabbitte (sound ); Clarissa Finnerty (costume ) and Siobhra Ní Chianain (stage manager ).
Wasted will be staged in Nuns Island Theatre on Friday January 20 and Saturday 21 at 8pm. Tickets are €12/10 via www.galwayartscentre.ie or at the door. This production is not suitable for under 18s.