INTERVIEW: Ailís Ní Ríain talks to John O'Donaghue about Brief-Blue-Electric-Bloom
Tell us about Brief-Blue-Electric-Bloom?
Brief-Blue-Electric-Bloom was originally commissioned by Cornerhouse Manchester and Abandon Normal Devices Festival and premiered as a concert piece in late 2010. My ambition is to develop it further into an immersive music-theatre piece.
You said you want to 'enable disabled audiences and disable enabled audiences'. Could you expand?
In 2005 I started to lose my hearing and have found it an isolating and frustrating experience. It is not possible to present a BSL version of poetry? Poetry is full of inference, metaphor and sub-text. For me, BSL is too blunt a tool to express what I want to say. The signers are drawing on their experience as actors and professional BSL signers to create a physical language which, for me, is more representative of my writing – evoking, inferring, provoking and engaging. The creative essence of Brief-Blue-Electric-Bloom is to experiment with the idea of embedding interpretive signing within a work combining poetry, animation and contemporary music. My aim here is to enable a deaf audience and disable a hearing audience in the hope that we ‘receive’ the work equally.
Could you tell us about your background?
I am an Irish, female classical composer and writer. I studied composition at York and Manchester Universities and the Royal Northern College of Music. I aim to produce work which challenges, provokes and engages and I'm particularly interested in cross-artform collaboration, public sound art, chamber opera, music-theatre and presenting contemporary music in diverse spaces. My music has been performed throughout Europe, in the USA (Carnegie Hall), commissioned and performed on BBC Radio 3 and RTE.
What part does disability play in your practice?
My disability has informed my practice in a number of ways, primarily in respect of how I interpret the concept of communication. This was something that always interested me; however, now it’s taken on a new dimension. As a trained classical composer I rely on my hearing for everything I do. This provoked me into exploring the use of interpretive signing within my work both as an artform and a means of communication.
Many thanks and good luck with Brief-Blue-Electric-Bloom.