I was born in Dublin in 1985. I started playing guitar at four and cello at five, because I ‘had big man-hands’. I’ve played in orchestras, bands and I’ve written two albums of original songs. These albums were also theatre shows.
I knew I would end up working in theatre, since I saw ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ by T.S. Eliot in Christchurch Cathedral Dublin when I was about 5. Me and my family were sitting in the pew, and at the interval, I realised that the tall woman with curly red hair and her companion was Nicole Kidman, with Tom Cruise. I remember the excitement of seeing these Hollywood film stars, the strangeness of being in a church to watch a play, and the shock of the red light that filled the place along with a deafening organ chord. Thinking about it now, these elements have continued to influence the work I make.
After studying theatre and music in trinity college Dublin, I moved to New York in 2008. My sister, Maud invited me to start a band with her. Maud in Cahoots became the first incarnation of our collaboration. I played cello, bass and synth in the band, Maud sang and we wrote the songs. From the beginning we focused on live shows. To date we’ve played in tiny pub venues to large scale festival arenas and venues. This is where we’ve learned about the craft of performance.
After an MFA in theatre directing in London, I moved back to Dublin in 2013 and started directing plays. From Dennis Kelly to Eugene Ionesco to Toshiki Okada, I have learned about language and form. From Richard Maxwell and Mariano Pensotti I have learned about intuition and risk taking. From Arun Rao (my cello teacher) I have learned how music works. I continue to learn from my mentors and from my own mistakes.
There is a pre-occupation emerging from the work I’ve made so far with collaborator Maud Lee. The Well Rested Terrorist was our first theatre show. It was a ‘live concept album’. The idea was to put the band, Maud in Cahoots, in a theatre and put an actor in the band. The result was an examination of context, performance and the fracturing of a relationship. With this project I felt that we found a performance language that belonged in the theatre.
Applying that language to something I wanted to express led to Recovery. This piece is an attempt at understanding family. Drawing from personal experience, the show is based on twelve songs written from different perspectives of a fractured family unit.
The through line from these shows and our current project Everything I Do can be found in the approach to the audience. With a focus on vulnerability, feeling and humility, the performers are attempting to create an open channel of communication with the audience. This begins with seeing and being seen.