They talk about a woman’s sphere as though it had a limit,
there’s not a place in earth or heaven,
there’s not a task to mankind given,
without a woman in it.
Kate Field (1838-1896)
This was the quote that inspired A Woman’s Sphere coming to fruition. In September of 2005 individual women and women’s groups from across Kilkenny county were invited to participate in a unique project by, for and about women living in Kilkenny. With guaranteed confidentiality, over 100 women belonging to 11 diverse groups, including a community of nuns, from across County Kilkenny responded to our initial call. Those who chose to join the project participated in a series of discussions and drama workshops over a period of 7 months. They explored the question ‘What does it mean to be a woman in Kilkenny today?’
Staying true to the reality of the lives of the women participating in the project, A Woman’s Sphere attempted to capture the essence of how these groups of women define their daily experience of being a woman living in Kilkenny.
Stage 1 – Workshops
Workshops were held in September 2005 and February 2006 with each of eleven pre-existing women’s groups. Facilitated by writer Maeve Ingoldsby and Outreach Officer Rebecca Moran, the workshops used drama, writing and discussion to explore the women’s experiences. This process culminated in a single monologue piece from each group.
These were then coalesced into a single theatre piece comprising 8 monologues, adding theatrical elements of rhythm, percussion, movement, chant and song.
Stage 2 – Auditions
Open auditions to perform in the final piece were held in March & April, and were open to any woman living in Kilkenny – regardless of whether or not she had participated in the process up to that point.
Stage 3 – Performance
The final theatre piece was scripted by Maeve Ingoldsby and Rebecca Moran (who also directed) and was presented in June 2006 by 9 local women, most of whom were performing in public for the first time.
A Woman’s Sphere was performed in a sphere configuration; the audience sat in the centre, facing podiums on points outside the audience.
There were two performance nights; Fri 9th June at The Barn Theatre, and Sat 10th June at The Brewery Club, Parliament Street.
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Strolling players – travelling theatre groups in the Tudor period in England, who toured the country delivering theatrical performances.
In 1998 Barnstorm, supported by Kilkenny Arts Festival and in partnership with ten local communities, presented Strollers,
an outdoor theatre spectacle involving EVERYONE. The show toured the county visiting town squares and greens, and involved both the talent of the company and those of the communities that hosted this unusual presentation. Performers, musicians, singers, jugglers, men, women children, horses, dogs….you name it. All were involved in Strollers – as the company said at the time “EVERYBODY IS A ‘BEGINNER’ ON THIS PROJECT, SO DON’T BE SHY, COME AND HAVE A LAUGH THIS SUMMER”
Strollers consisted of an open air performance of The Selfish Giant, a fairy tale by Oscar Wilde, preceded by a grand entrance parade and followed by a grand exit!
Strollers took place in Graiguenamanagh, Callan, Inistioge, Castlecomer, Ballyraggett, Freshford, at Kilkenny Castle, Kells, Gowran and in Jenkinstown Wood. Each hosting community used the opportunity to create a ‘celebration day’ for locals with a range of events (stalls, music, dancing, markets etc) to complement the Barnstorm event which was directed by Veronica McGuire and Helen Walsh.
Oh Yea Oh Yea, come one and all
Be still and hearken to my call
The mighty Strollers show’s now o’er
And weekends are our own once more
But before this moment ‘s passed away
A word of thanks we’d like to say
To all the players and designers too
To the office staff and the valiant crew
To organisers one and all
And to our hosts at [local] hall
But most of all our thanks is due
To Veronica and Helen too
Whose tireless work and artistic eye
Brought joy to child and passer by
Nothing ask they for their cause
But let us now give our Wilde applause.