JUST ADDED to the line-up of the Galway Theatre Festival, in the director’s choice slot, is Louise White and Kate Nic Chonaonaigh’s All Things Considered It’s A Nice Place to Start, fresh from its acclaimed run at Dublin’s Absolut Fringe Festival.
“I really admired the honesty and the simplicity of this show, which has a very sweet sentiment at its heart,” notes Galway Theatre Festival director Róisín Stack. “The performers are reaching out to people in communities and exploring Irish society through individuals rather than as one political or social group, so it’s not just a sweet piece of theatre, it’s interesting and intelligent as well.”
The creative process behind the show is quite intriguing. White and Nic Chonaonaigh sent out cards to 300 strangers all over Ireland thanking them for little acts of ordinary kindness, or just for being let skip the queue that time, for being bright.
From the myriad replies and responses they subsequently received, the duo then put together the show, which Irish Theatre Magazine described as an “engrossing piece of theatre [where] White and Nic Chonaonaigh give beautiful performances, sometimes fierce, and other times fragile.”
“We wanted to make a positive, hopeful piece of theatre,” White explains. “We were sick of all the doom and gloom in the country. I was reading this self-help book which described an experiment in which researchers send Christmas cards to strangers and that idea resonated with me and it started from there.
“A lot of work went into the show. We sent out a letter a day to each of the 32 counties and spent a lot of time thinking about who we would write to. We wanted to cover as wide a range of people as possible so, for instance, on Tuesday we would write to teachers, on Wednesday it would be town mayors, another day it would be service providers, and so on. We also sent 25 personal letters to friends or people who had influenced us in one way or another. It was a very lengthy process.”
White candidly admits the letters prompted a variety of responses.
“Some people responded very positively to the cards but others were suspicious, they thought it might be some identity-theft scam or something like that,” she says. “One woman rang us who was very upset as she felt it was an invasion of privacy.
“On the other hand, I had this man who drove all the way up from Naas to my house and arrived at my door with the card and we ended up having a great chat together. We did seem to get a lot of the positive replies arriving all together toward the end of the process.
“We’ve included the full spectrum of responses within the show. We’ve included some replies exactly as we received them and others we edited down a bit, and we only used replies we were given permission to use within the show. It’s fast paced piece and there’s a nice sense of humour running through it.”
All Things Considered… sees White and Nic Chonaonaigh make their Galway debut after three years presenting work at Absolut Fringe where they enjoyed sell-out successes with their two previous offerings, From the Heart (2010 ) – which was nominated for three Fringe Awards - and Nurse Me (2009 ).
White, from Abbeyleix, and Nic Chonaonaigh, from An Spidéal, first met while studying at Trinity and soon began working together.
“We have a good working relationship,” White explains. “We’re very good at teasing out ideas together. This is our third show so the partnership has been going well for us.”
The play runs at Town Hall Studio on Friday October 28 at 10pm and Saturday 29 at 6pm. Tickets are €12/10 and are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie