Who is Fergus Kilpatrick?

April 16, 2010

Who is Fergus Kilpatrick? Or what? Fucked if I know and more worryingly, with regards the last question, I’ m not sure if The Company, the crew who received the Spirit of the Fringe award for this show, does either. What it is is an enigmatic, entertaining piece of theatre compiled by some charismatic personalities (particularly Brian Bennet and Tanya Wilson) who amuse as often as they confuse.

With a play within a play and a mockumentary about a documentary they combine reality theatre, heightened performances and video trickery to start, restart and start again but never actually tell us who Fergus Kilpatrick is. The show had me constantly questioning myself. Are the actors for real? Are the audience? Is there something deeper at work here or is it deliberately saying very little as loudly as possible? It left me shifting in my seat unable to relax my mind or my person, which certainly earns it a place above most of the theatre I’ve seen since January and which I gather was their intention. But like much of the theatre it left me reaching for what’s fast becoming my critical buzzword of the season-unfulfilling.

It’s ok to pose the questions and not supply the answers but when the questions themselves are hard to distinguish then it’s hard to see the point. I liked the general idea of the show, which was to play with personal perceptions and accepted truths, to lampoon the theatricality of theatre while funneling other mediums to enhance it, but it would have worked better if it were a little less self aware, a little subtler.

But subtlety and coherence seem to be the antithesis of what young Dublin theatre practitioners seems to be about these days. Willie White’s Project Arts Centre should be applauded for providing emerging artists with a stage to explore their ideas. If only their was someone on hand to help them shape them.

Then again perhaps I missed the point. Director Jose Miguel Jimenez here try’s to tell me what the show is all about.

So who is Fergus Killpatrick and why haven’t we been told about him?

It’s about all those things that we take for granted such as chapters of history, beliefs, religion, gender, social and political structures, borders, traditions and cultures. We went through a really long process of studying philosophy and reading stories and history and looking at different art forms, how each medium attempts to bind or capture reality. We wanted to do a show about the history of Ireland because we were interested in unveiling how our present has been manufactured by our past. How history is a suppressant, it’s not behind you.

You say that you wanted to create a non-theatre piece. What is that?

Traditional theatre as we conceive it is basically a narrative that you follow and there is a plot and a dramatic twist and all that. We, in our desire of analyzing the way we live, knew that this linear narrative is part of this construction we wanted to break down. So what’s not theatrical about the piece is that it never develops to one point. There is no one ending. The show has many endings and many beginnings. It starts again and the minute anything is stated it’s then questioned automatically. It’s a game. We were dealing with these really heavy concepts but we didn’t want to do a “show” about heavy concepts.

How is the piece structured?

We have loads of video footage, there is a documentary in it, there is an acted section that is like a pantomime and then you have the actors talking about themselves, trying to be themselves.

Like reality theatre?

In a way it’s questioning if it’s possible for reality theatre to exist. We see reality shows and you have to ask if that’s real …are you really yourself when cameras surround you. Is that the real you? Are you not playing yourself in a way?

What can we expect from you in the future? Do you intend on doing much more together as a company or are you more interested in working with larger companies now?

Were working on a show inspired by Ulysses.  We want to basically take the language structure of Ulysses, which is so cryptic and so difficult to open but I am interested in how the character has become the definition of Irish identity, which is the biggest question in our next production, taking the structure of Ulysses as the possibility of creating an Irish personality. We wonder who he would be now days with our current language form-hypertext.

Tell me about the company?

We were all in The BA in Trinity, the second last generation before it died. again and for good. We started talking about forming a company in college because we didn’t like what we were seeing. Traditional forms that didn’t represent us. It didn’t represent the way we spoke to one another and it didn’t represent the way we communicate with one another, how we experience being in the city. It was old, irrelevant. We wanted to work in theatre but try and push a little bit.

How are you different from other companies out there?

The tradition here in Ireland is that there is a core team that cast different actors so the continuity of the work always relies on the director for example. We wanted to work together as a team and develop our own shorthand. Your work as a company should not be judged on one show alone. Its not one piece, It’s your whole body of work. We wanted continuity. Progression. So we hope to stick together. The company is defined by the desire to work together and develop work together that has continuous themes.

Did any other company inspire you?

Its funny, theatre doesn’t inspire me as much as philosophy, music, architecture. I don’t read many plays; I have a feeling that theatre should be trying to get out of itself. When you’re stuck in theatricality and theatre you don’t really go that far. There is something about the language, there’s something about the structure, which I think if we break it, opens the possibility to what you can talk about and how. I try to get away from theatre as much as I can and the more I get away from it the more I come back.


Cube, Project Arts Centre

8.15PM, 13 – 24 APR 2010

Tickets €15/ €12


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