Tag Archives: sue healy

COW – A Sold-Out Success!!!

 

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Phenomenal response to COW! SOLD OUT!! Full house and heartfelt curtain calls. We’re now mulling its further life. Many thanks to all involved and to those who came. COW will be back!

Play:

When a mysterious and beautiful Hungarian woman arrives in Glenmore, Co. Kilkenny to work as a mushroom picker, the Clearys’ strained, childless marriage comes under further threat…

An entertaining light comedy that also mulls contemporary issues including immigration, perceptions of women and infertility – and there’s ongoing consternation about hurling, camogie and Irish weather! The play is directed by Catríona Clancy. COW also features acclaimed Irish actor Michael Quinlan as Damien Cleary, Firetrap Theatre’s Geraldine Crowley as Marie Cleary and Emma Lyndon-Stanford as Ági Kovács. 


2017 Claremorris Fringe Award!

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Mayo magic: The Dog in the Treehouse wins the 2017 Claremorris Fringe Award

What could top two weeks at the Heinrich Boll cottage on Achill Island? Very little, but picking up the 2017 Claremorris Fringe Award for my short play “The Dog in the Treehouse” on the day of my departure comes close.

Not only does this win supply prestige and very welcome prize money, but I also was presented with an excellent staged version of my play, and treated with royal hospitality by the event organisers and theatre lovers from every corner of Ireland. What a March you’ve provided Mayo!


In Boll’s Retreat on Achill Island

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An inspiring Irish speciality, a seaweed bath

Two weeks at the Heinrich Boll cottage in Achill, two whole weeks of wonderful industry and contemplation on Ireland’s wild Atlantic shores, in one of Mayo’s most scenic corners in the home of one of the 20th century’s most famous authors. That is how lucky I am. And yes, it was very fruitful. Nothing compares to time spent on a writers’ residency.

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Achill Island

I’ve had residencies at four institutions. They’ve all been great and interesting and why wouldn’t they be, providing time and distance from routine to concentrate on your art alone or in the company of other creatives. Each institution has provided something unique, whether it be conversation with the other artists, inspiration from the environment, tuition or the calm and stillness that lends itself so well to the creative process. For all these reasons, I’d also recommend the following: Tyrone Guthrie Centre (Ireland), Aras Eanna (Ireland), The Hurst (UK) and last year Ginestrelle, (Italy). I’ve also rented friends’ holiday homes in low season, which is a way artists can enjoy a focused way to write, without breaking the bank.

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Castle of Graunuaile (the pirate Queen of Connaught), on Achill Island.

I’m going to reblog below, a list of residencies/retreats I drew up some years ago. I haven’t had time recently to check, expand or prune this list, but please feel free to add your own comments/suggestions. And apologies if some of the links are out of date.

Do note that America is where the writers’ colony was born, hence its dominance of the list. The U.S. still provides the best, the most prestigious and the most difficult colonies to get into. Yes, “get into”. Therein lies the difference between a “residency” and a “retreat”  (which I explain below):

Residencies are institutions to which you must apply and demonstrate your professionalism as an artist via a portfolio, and perhaps references and a CV that shows you are considered by your peers to be a practicing artist. Residencies are often funded by an arts and/or educational body and can mean you must also provide a service such as creative writing classes in the locality. Residencies can last from two weeks to a year.  In Ireland, prestigious residencies include The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Cill Rialaig and the Heinrich Boll Cottage. Even if accepted, you may have to pay for your stay. However, attending one of these establishments is an impressive addition to your C.V. Moreover, you may meet artists of international renown.

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Then you get Retreats. These are institutions that sometimes offer courses – the UK’s ‘Arvon Foundation’ is a good example which has three properties around England and holds intensive writing courses throughout the year. Other retreats might just offer room and board to writers for a fee, somewhat like a hotel but with an emphasis on creativity and productivity during your stay. Anam Cara and the Molly Keane house are Irish examples. They’re not as prestigious residencies, although such places tend not to attract those at the peak of their career, you might still meet some interesting creative, supportive people and the surrounds are usually very picturesque and perhaps inspiring. Retreats are good for novice or emerging writers who are not yet at the stage in their career where they might gain acceptance on a “residency”, or if you simply want to try the set up out for a week or so, but can’t commit to a residency.

Finally, if all you want is some peace and quiet, why not rent some respite, a holiday cottage in the wilds of Connemara in autumn, or stay in a B&B on Dartmoor or a shack in the Catskills – you may be able to get a ‘low season deal’ and it may provide the inspiration you seek.

 

A sample (and by no means exhaustive) list:

Ireland

Residencies:

http://www.araseanna.ie/
http://heinrichboellcottage.com/
http://emergingwriter.blogspot.com/2009/04/cill-rialaig-residency.html
http://www.dlrcoco.ie/arts/Call_For_Writer_2015.htm

http://www.tyroneguthrie.ie/

Retreats:

http://www.anamcararetreat.com/

http://www.mollykeanewritersretreats.com/

France

Residencies:

http://www.chateau-lanapoule.com/residencies/index.html

http://www.centreculturelirlandais.com/modules/movie/scenes/home/index.php?fuseAction=residences

http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2015/09/10/brown-foundation-fellows-program/

Retreats:

http://www.lamuseinn.com/

UK

Residencies:

http://www.writersservices.com/agent/bur/Hawthornden_Castle.htm

http://covepark.org/apply-or-book

Retreats

http://www.arvonfoundation.org/p1.html

urbanwritersretreat.co.uk

Italy

Retreats:

https://artestudioginestrelle.wordpress.com/

USA

Residencies:

www.andersoncenter.org

www.atlanticcenterforthearts.org

www.calderaarts.org

www.coloradoartranch.org

www.saltonstall.org

www.djerassi.org

www.dorlandartscolony.org

http://www.exeter.edu/about_us/about_us_537.aspx

www.albeefoundation.org

www.hambidge.org

www.headlands.org

www.hedgebrook.org

www.jentelarts.org

kerouacproject.org/application-page

www.khncenterforthearts.org

www.artomi.org

www.montanaartistsrefuge.org

http://www.macdowellcolony.org/

http://www.millaycolony.org/

springcreek.oregonstate.edu

http://www.kfw.org/grants.html

www.kulcher.org

http://www.lynchburg.edu/thornton.xml

www.nmwcolony.org

http://montalvoarts.org/programs/residency/

www.onewritersplace.com

http://www.radcliffe.edu/fellowships/apply.aspx

www.red-cinder.com

www.soapstone.org

http://www.stanford.edu/group/creativewriting/stegner.html

www.poetrycenter.arizona.edu

www.vcca.com

http://www.ucrossfoundation.org/residency_program/

http://www.vermontstudiocenter.org/

www.writersdojo.org/residency

http://www.woodstockguild.org/artist_in_residence/index.html

http://www.wurlitzerfoundation.org/

http://www.yaddo.org

Retreats:

http://www.myretreat.net/

http://thompsonpeakretreat.com/

http://wildacres.org/about/residency.html

http://www.creativeledgestudio.com/

http://espyfoundation.org/

http://www.astudiointhewoods.org/sitw/?page_id=72

http://artcroft.org/eligibility.htm

http://www.montanaartistsrefuge.org/residencies.html

http://www.nisda.org/air.htm

http://www.ragdale.org/residency

http://www.nps.gov/romo/supportyourpark/artist_in_residence.htm

http://www.ozarkcreativewriters.org/

Canada

http://www.skwriter.com/?s=skwritercolonies&p=colonyguidelines

Australia

http://www.tasmanianwriters.org/self-funded-residencies

If you know of more, please feel free to post!


It’s How I Roll, baby

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I’m at my professional best when I’m stressed, with a to-do list in hand and no time to take a break.

We all work in different ways. Some writers need planning and easy, soft pacing. My approach is broad stroke, manic, if slightly anarchic – but I get stuff done. Likewise, we all perform better at different times of the day. Many writers keep their notepad by their beds and make sure that the very first thing they do when they open their eyes each morning, is write, hoping the dream state will have left a creative legacy. The resultant notes are called “morning pages”. Morning pages might contain what a writer remembers of their dreams or perhaps the writer will simply jot down the very first words that come to mind that day. There are writers who say that this exercise helps them ‘slip’ more easily into what writers’ call the “rapture” when a writer feels ideas are pouring into their mind from elsewhere.

Just as the waking moments are a bridge from the sleeping state into sober reality – the hour before you go to bed is often a creative time with the brain slipping into that semi conscious state.  Hence there are plenty of writers who write late at night.

And to show that there are no rules, there are other writers who find their most productive hours are in the middle of the day when all of life’s busyness is in full swing (the Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling is a good example. She wrote her first book in a busy Edinburgh café).

What is important is that you write and that you find your ideal writing time. Experiment. Find what works for you and then set an hour aside each day at that time and write. Likewise, writers have very personal tastes regarding an environment conducive to writing. There are those who like music or TV buzz in the background and those who can only write in silence. Manic or meditative, find whatever works for you.


Girls’ Night Out

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The inaugural Fizzy Sherbet evening of new writing by women, features my 12 minute play “Lakukuku”. The seven rehearsed readings will be presented at the Hackney Attic on January 24th – if you’re up that way, do come along!


1916 Remembered

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Podcast available here

On this Armistice Day, I’m re-posting my KCLR 96fm BAI-funded play CAKE. This 45-minute play, set in Waterford 1915-1920, focuses on a local family challenged by opposing allegiances: Lance Corporal Joseph Bohan-O’Shea is fighting at the Somme whilst his Northern Protestant wife May raises their four children down south in Waterford City. However, Joseph’s staunchly Nationalist mother is angry with her son for taking the ‘Saxon shilling’ and betraying the family by joining the British Army. Her gender barring her from taking up arms herself, Mother persuades Joseph’s poet twin, Michael, to fight for Irish freedom, but Michael’s true passion is his unrequited love for his sister-in-law, May…. This story is a fictionalisation of my great-grandparents’ own story.

CAKE is directed by Jim Nolan, and stars Michael Power (winner of the Portsmouth International Film Festival’s 2014 Best Actor Award), Madeleine Brolly and Jenni Ledwell. CAKE also features a special recording of Waterford anthem In Happy Moments by William Vincent Wallace, performed here by Matthew Sprange, fresh from his Olivier Award winning performance in English Touring Opera’s Paul Bunyon.


The Blue King of Trafadden – Oct. 30th

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An action/adventure radio drama in 45 mins, in English and Irish.

Scéal eachtraíochta, ar raidió, in nGaeilge agus i mBéarla. 

The Blue King of Trafadden is my 9th radio play and concerns a troubled Afro-Caribbean dentist, Henry Ryan, who returns to the birthplace of his ancestors, Trafadden Island, Co. Waterford, with the intention of burying his grandmother’s ashes. Henry lodges with the ferryman Seamus, his partner Eimear and her son, little Óg. Secretly, Henry also hopes to exorcise the curse he is convinced his abandoned grandmother has put on him, a curse he believes has driven him to drug addiction and robbed him of his marriage and career.

Henry is not the only one on the island with a secret. Ferryman Seamus, afraid he is losing Eimear, is determined to make his fortune by developing a plot of land  of historical significance and is worried that the authorities are going to slap a protection order on it. Seamus comes up with  an illegal solution… Meanwhile, nine year old Óg, finds a skull, which he decides must be the head of his father. Eimear  spends her time in earnest, secret Skype conversation with her sister….

The Blue King of Trafadden is funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the television licence fee.


Finalist for Nick Darke Award

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When I’m holed up at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig,  Co. Monaghan,I don’t like to check in with the outside world too much. However, I’m glad I did yesterday as t’Internet brought me some welcome sunny news. My latest stage play, ‘Palimpsest’ is one of seven finalists for the 2016 Nick Darke Award. Submissions topped a thousand, so I’m proud of the achievement. The Award ceremony will take place at the National Theatre, London on November 9th. Excited!

More information and the full shortlist here:

 


A Little Rejection Tale

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A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t give up. If you keep going you improve and you’ll break through eventually, but you must keep going.

Some years ago I had a room-mate, lets call him Robert, who was an exceedingly talented writer and a super bright individual. Robert had come from a north of England working class family and had won a scholarship to a top college at Oxford to study law, and then proceeded to get a 1st. In a class ridden society such as England is, this is quite a feat. He then went on to barrister pupilage in London. So far, so successful. He struggled in London however, his working class roots a subtle bar from invitation to the glossiest circles, and he let it get to him. Robert decided to jack the law trade in and devote his time to his hobby, writing prose.

Robert was blessed with a wondrous poetic use of language and could craft very beautiful, visual prose. He also had an instinct for story. Within a year, a short story by Robert, had won a prestigious national prize. The way seemed set for a glittering career as a writer. Robert sent out his first novel manuscript to an agent of his choosing. It was rejected. Robert was speechless and sunk into a depression for a few months. Eventually he rallied round, spent another six months moving commas around pages and plucked up the courage to send it out again. And again it was rejected. This process was repeated a third time, after which Robert hit bottom and decided to never write again – and I learned a valuable lesson by proxy.

Robert’s book was slow-paced and poetic and not to everyone’s taste, but there’s no doubt it was good. It may have even eventually have been published had he persevered and found the right agent/publisher. However, Robert’s issue was that he could not take rejection. Following a lifetime of over-achievement, he had unreal expectations and a sense of privilege and entitlement that often accompanies high success at a young age – yes, even for those from working class backgrounds. If Robert had had the skills to roll with the blows, he would have no doubt become a barrister and a published and acclaimed author – but he did not know how to handle rejection, so he gave up. Dealing with the turn-downs is the most important skill a writer needs.

Robert had three rejections and then stopped writing. It’s July, I’ve had 33 rejection letters since January this year alone, and I’ll have the same number again by December (I’ve had 10 acceptances thus far this year, however, just to give you an idea of the percentages). If you are not willing to take the hits, you need to get out of the writing game. The upside is that if you keep going, keep sending those ships out, keep improving and keep rolling with the punches, you absolutely will break through… eventually.

 

 

 


May Pay Day

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The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Monaghan.

Well now, that was a month! You struggle and scrimp and study and scribble for ever and a day and you’re on the cusp of giving up… when, it happens.

May happened for me. Yes, this month I had my first stage production (without decor) in a leading London studio theatre (The King’s Head) which was funded by Arts Council England and played to full houses with very positive feedback. The same play is now a finalist for the 2016 Eamon Keane Full Length Play Award (winner announced next week). Then, yesterday, I was granted the Waterford Council Annaghmakerrig Award for a two week stay at the famed artists’ residency,  the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Co. Monaghan. And just before the clock says goodbye to May, I receive an email to say my play ‘TreeHouse’ has shortlisted for the Little Pieces of Gold showcase at the Southwark Playhouse. Yes, if you wait around long enough, it happens…

So, keep on writing … there are months like these!