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Kaite O'Reilly is an award-winning playwright and a recipient of two Cultural Olympiad Commissions. She blogs about writing and the process of writing with a focus on four forthcoming productions, which revolve around disability issues.

Kaite O'Reilly reports on the final week of rehearsals for 'In Water I’m Weightless' with National Theatre Wales

21 July 2012

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photo of actor mat fraser wearing a red t-shirt as he records audio-desciption for In Water I'm Weightless

It is, I think, a most peculiar way to make a living. No two days are the same and my working life at the moment is of such a surreal quality, normally loquacious taxi drivers are silent as I outline the activity…. ‘Today at work I’m observing slow motion filming of water being poured onto various parts of various actors’ bodies…’ Still, that’s probably nothing compared to what Jacob probably said when he got home for tea that night (‘Well, I...

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New Welsh Review 96: Kaite O’Reilly on the Cultural Olympiad

11 June 2012

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front cover of magazine

Kaite O’Reilly on the Cultural Olympiad. An extract from ‘Rich Text’ NWR 96: It’s 1995 and I’m lying in front of the wheels of a bus in Wood Street, Cardiff. The bus is ticking over, the driver occasionally revving the engine to try and scare me and so dislodge my body from beneath his bumper. As he does so, a thrilling reverberation is sent through the fat rubber of the wheel and into my waist. I am exhilarated and equally terrified. I haven’t been in an...

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Olympic Questions: Further responses to LeanerFasterStronger

2 June 2012

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photo of actress with long hair holding out her hands holding a glass

We are approaching the end of the run of LeanerFasterStronger at Sheffield Crucible, and have had a fantastic response to the work in the regional press, on twitter, and via the Guardian and Sheffield theatres’ website. This is the start of a period of reflection for me – what lessons might be learnt? How much of my initial ambitions and intentions have I achieved? When I was approached by Chol Theatre with this commission, I had no interest  in sport outside...

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Opening up the rehearsal process. Guest blog by LeanerFasterStronger director Andrew Loretto

15 May 2012

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image of a sportsman in motion, against a black background

And here we are at the end of week 2 of rehearsals for the Sheffield Theatres/Chol Theatre co-production of the world premiere of LeanerFasterStronger by Kaite O’Reilly. Time has flown by in the rehearsal room, but so much has been achieved – including a rough stagger run on day 9. The project has been an extraordinary two-year journey of collaborative research and discovery – and my aim now as director is to condense and continue this journey in rehearsals whilst also doing...

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Rosaleen McDonagh discusses her new play Mainstream and the challenges of casting and performance

14 March 2012

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Photo of Rosaleen McDonagh smiling at the camera

My friend and mentee the playwright Rosaleen McDonagh sent me this link to her article in this month's Irish Theatre Magazine, which I have put on my blog. She talks about "cripping-up" and quotes me, giving some insight into the Irish context, which I think is fascinating (especially as I edited Face On: Disability Arts in Ireland and Beyond' - featuring Rosaleen - some years ago). -- Rosaleen McDonagh discusses her new play 'Mainstream' and the challenges of casting...

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In praise of disability poet Jim Ferris: a call for opportunities to hear him read!

27 February 2012

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book cover showing a ghostly white figure balancing on a rope with an umbrella

The acclaimed American crip poet Jim Ferris is coming to Wales in mid-March to work with Disability Arts Cymru. He's doing a workshop and a reading - I've arranged for two other readings in Wales  - and have been trying to get some further interest and support from other disability cultural organisations, to seize the opportunity of showcasing his work, getting readings, etc, whilst he is in the UK. Sadly, I've not had any response to date, so am trying again. He will be in...

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That was the year that was. Has anything changed? (continued)

2 January 2012

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photo of six disabled performers during rehearsals

Kaite O'Reilly continues her run-down of events in 2011. Cardiff, November 2011: I'm in a studio with a group of outstanding performers, some internationally renowned, others forging reputations as 'people to watch'. Also present is John McGrath, artistic director of National Theatre Wales, choreographer/movement director Nigel Charnock, designer Paul Clay, and emerging director Sara Beer. We're here to develop In Water I'm Weightless and I can't quite believe it's happening. The project is a...

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That was the year that was. Has anything changed?

28 December 2011

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I began this blog back in August 2011 after I realised that 2012 would bring an embarrassment of riches production-wise. As the forthcoming work is diverse in aesthetic, process and content, I felt much might be learnt, and writing a blog might help externalise my learning, publicise the work and document the processes of devising, playwriting, co-creating, collaborative montaging. I'm excited by what 2012 will bring, and the diversity both of the work and the creative approaches I'll be...

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Further news of 'In Water I’m Weightless'

5 December 2011

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front cover of the london 2012 festival programme

I am delighted to see 'In Water I’m Weightless', my Unlimited Commission to be produced by National Theatre Wales in 2012, was included in the preview guide to London 2012. ‘Britain’s biggest ever cultural festival’ over the weekend. I quote from a story within the festival supplement, titled 'Stories that Come to Life' A character hears sound for the first time, while the audience reads sign language in back-projected subtitles in a powerful experimental work that...

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In Water I’m Weightless: in development...

21 November 2011

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photo of the back of a wheelchair-user turning around to look at the camera. A woman of short stature tands close by

Many text-based productions are straight-forward in content and form: they are interpretations of existing scripts. So what's the process for a ensemble piece using music, design, movement and selected monologues, with a newly-formed company who have never all met, never mind collaborated before? This has been the challenge to National Theatre Wales this week, in development with In Water I'm Weightless, my commission from Unlimited, part of the Cultural Olympiad. We have a sterling cast of...

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Preparations for Unlimited with the 'Cymru Crips'

9 November 2011

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photo of a group of disabled performers

When I received the Arts Council Wales Creative Wales Major Award back in 2008, I spent a year exploring the form of the dramatic monologue, seeing solo work in Europe and the US, meeting and being mentored by experts of the form, like Sara Zatz and Ping Chong Company in New York. I shadowed part of Ping Chong’s 'Undesirable Elements' series, watching testimonial theatre in various school halls and community centres in Brooklyn, the participants/performers using their own autobiographies...

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‘Cripping up is the twenty first century answer to blacking up.’ Peeling and The ‘d’ Monologues

9 November 2011

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photo of two actresses

Some years ago I received a Creative Wales Major Award from Arts Council Wales, to begin a project I called The ‘d’ Monologues – short dramatic solos written specifically for Deaf and disabled performers. There is a dearth of plays with disabled characters, and when these are produced, the parts are invariably played by non-disabled or hearing actors. Those who know me and my play 'peeling' will know I’m not a fan of this kind of casting. As...

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LeanerFasterStronger: blurbs, images, publicity

28 October 2011

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digital image of a figure

I have a love-hate relationship with publicity materials and the PR machine. I know production images, blurb and press releases are essential for the successful publicising of a production, but that still doesn’t lessen the pain of trying to create material that bears some relation to the content of the show, whilst also keeping artistic integrity, and not giving the game away…. I know it’s a personal predilection, but I dislike publicity material which tells me too much....

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LeanerFasterStronger: Bodies in motion, extraordinary moves

13 October 2011

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I'm in Canada, revising the next draft of LeanerFasterStronger, the Cultural Olympiad commission from Chol Theatre in a co-production with Sheffield Theatres. The project is part of Extraordinary Moves, a major strand of the imove programme, which celebrates and challenges the relationship between people and their moving bodies through a series of arts projects across Yorkshire. One of the processes I use when redrafting is to go back and revisit all the source material I've found that when...

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Kaite researches a Cultural Olympiad commission: LeanerStrongerFaster

22 September 2011

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book cover of 'face on'collection edited by Kaite O'Reilly

I get an email from Andrew Loretto, creative producer of Sheffield Theatres. It is short, focused, almost telegraphed, as is the nature of missives from scarily busy individuals. How about if the title is presented as a continuous energy as follows: 'LeanerFasterStronger' he asks enigmatically, except I know what he is referring to, and it’s a great suggestion. Andrew will direct one of my commissions next year, a co-production between Chol Theatre in Huddersfield and Sheffield Crucible,...

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