GAITKRASH was formed in 2007 by performers Bernadette Cronin and Regina Crowley and sound and visual artist Mick O’Shea. Central to their work is the model of a conversation, which involves looking, listening and responding to each other in the liveness of the moment. Gaitkrash’s signature interplay between sound, performance task and vision is in keeping with Arnold Schopenhauer’s thesis that when images are accompanied by sound, “the sound seems to open up their most secret sense and meaning, and to constitute the clearest commentary on them”.
The first piece they created to explore their new mode of performance is entitled The Cabinet of Curiousities. Cronin and Crowley perform objects from behind a 10ft x 5ft wooden cabinet consisting of 12 individually lit ‘mini-stages’, complete with individual pairs of red velvet curtains. The ‘objects’ can include organic and inorganic objects, body parts, organs (from animals), words and text fragments. The sound/artist is positioned with his table of self-designed instruments so that he can dialogue in the moment with the visual images the performers offer him and the performers in turn can respond to the sound images. Some of the starting points for this ‘conversation’ were the body: the questioning of ideas of inside and outside, the body as an envelope, body parts as puppets; paintings by Francis Bacon, and 19th century dissection practices. While the performers work with individual scores in performance, the emphases are on non-narrative-based performance of objects, liveness of the conversation in the moment and the freedom of the spectator to create her/his own ‘objects’ with what emerges in performance. The company has performed various iterations of this piece, including a Genet-themed iteration in MrBradleys Bar, Barrack St.
For Gaitkrash’s second project they applied their conversation model to two pieces of new writing created for them by award-winning poet Graham Allen: Earthangeland Laketime. Cronin and Crowley perform Earthangelon a seesaw in keeping with the theme of two disparate entities, who are, however, ‘stuck’ with each other; neither can leave the seesaw. O’Shea creates sound sculptures in performance to which the actors respond and vice versa. Laketimewas performed by guest actor Mairin Prendergast. O’Shea created spectrophonic drawings in response to Prendergast’s performance. The drawings took shape in a live video projection on a screen mounted beside the performing area.
Pimping the Maids: For this radical re-imagining of the Jean Genet’s play the team of collaborators mined the textfor ideas, themes and images for the purposes of ‘pimping’ or putting it back together again in a multi-media montage with a nuanced agenda. The work blended sound art, performance, dance, puppetry and video to explore themes such as chaos and ritual, transgression and frustrated desire, religious fervour and the agony of ecstasy, nihilism and the energy of the pathological. The work-in-progress was presented in Cork Midsummer Festival 2011.
Beckett at the factory, This site-specific collaborative performance event was built around Play bySamuel Beckett. Site-specific performance - in the field of theatre - is designed for a specific location that is not itself designed for theatrical use. This is often where theatre meets fine art and moves into the realm of what we call installation. We could also argue of course that many of Beckett’s plays are very much at home in this realm. This is why GAITKRASH proposed the collaboration with TRACE and sculptor James McCann to The National Sculpture Factory. This unique space offered the artists a broad range of interesting stimuli – visual, auditory, atmospheric, tactile – to work with in creating this performance installation. The invitation to our audience was to experience the entire event as a composition: from the entrance through the factory, past the sculptors’ workshops to the seating area, the sound art intro, which works with the space and its fixtures, the sculptor’s on-going engagement with the urn-sculptures, the actors’ performance of Play, the lighting. This project re-located to the Half Moon Theatre for the Opera House’s season of Beckett events to celebrate St. Patricks weekend 2012.
This project started out in the National Sculpture factory - a site-specific multi-media event - as a collaboration between the factory and Gaitkrash theatre company (Bernadette Cronin, Regina Crowley, Mick O’Shea with Andy Crook and Caleb Cooper), Trace (Mick O’Shea and Paul Hegarty) and sculptor and performance artist James McCann. For LET’S TALK ABOUT SAM this multi-media event is being re-sited in the Halfmoon Theatre. At the centre of the event is Beckett’s short play entitled Play: three heads protrude from urn-like sculptures, a relentless spotlight shines on their faces compelling them to speak at high speed, telling their side of the love-triangle story, reflecting on their purgatorial reality. In the artists’ view, Beckett’s plays require a certain quality of listening; the spectator needs a transition from the quotidian, from the ‘real world’. The sound artists’ score, inspired by Beckett’s play and the sculptor’s performative interactions with his urn-sculptures, likewise informed by the play, take the audience on that journey to where they can better absorb Beckett’s creation. That Play should inspire a sound art score is not surprising in that its structure is musical, with a chorus for three voices, orchestration, stage directions concerning tempo, volume, and tone, and a da capo repeat of the entire action. This musical structure is also reflected on a visual level in the layering of the urn-sculptures and the sculptor’s re-visiting of his creations in performance. This performance event collapsed the boundaries between theatre, music, sound art, performance art and fine art.
This site-specific intermedial montage (theatre, video installation, sound art) took the spectator on a promenade experience from the snug in Mr Bradleys bar to the abandoned upper rooms of the building to experience Beckett’s plays Footfalls (Bernadette Cronin and Mairin Prendergast) andRockaby (MairinPrendergast and Bernadette Cronin), a video and soundart response to Film by Beckett (performance artist James McCann / Trace – Mick O’Shea and Paul Hegarty) and a performance art installation (Irene Murphy).
playing ‘the maids’ is a dynamic meta-theatrical montage of newly devised spoken text (primarily English with some Mandarin and Korean), psychophysical scores, choreography and live sound composition realized by an international ensemble of seven artists working with Kaite O’Reilly (dramaturg) and Phillip Zarrilli (director). Sound artist (Mick O’Shea) and cellist (Adrian Curtin) respond to and interact with five female performers throughout the performance: a Chinese ‘madame’ (Jing Hong Okorn-Kuo) and two sets of ‘sister-maids’ (one Irish: Bernadette Cronin/Regina Crowley; one Korean: JeungsookYoo/Sunhee Kim). This compositional piece is made in response to Jean Genet’s classic The Maids and resonates with the socio-political context of our 21st century world. Playing the Maids previewed in Cork Midsummer Festival 2014 and premiered in Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff in Wales before going on to tour to Brecon and Aberystwyth in 2015.