(u;la la)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And now, on your left... Booh!

There is a perverse pleasure to be had in scaring people. We are all given this licence around Halloween and most of us take it heartily. How thrilling and satisfying when our little pranks work! What a childish pride overcomes us when we hear “Wow! Cool costume!”

Of course Oulala Productions couldn't resist to join in the act; it all started thanks to a discussion with Noel French over lunch at the Swift Festival, back in June. An idea thrown between a spoonful of Pavlova and a dose of David Heap (as a brilliant Jonathan Swift). The rest is history.

The finale of our tour... Yes. There is a girl in there.

And that is precisely our twist on the Halloween scare prank; no matter how cheap the frights or how fake the limbs, we wanted our tour to be both fun and interesting. And we wanted the town as our playground... we wanted audience and participants alike to discover these streets and their secret past. To learn something between the screams and the jumps.

Now, I don't know if the level of perversity is measured by the scale of the “prank”, or the time it takes to set it up. Or is it by the number of accomplices? The number of victims? All I know is that it was a huge pleasure (perverse or not) to see the impact it had on our willing victims. And their feedback both during and after the tour are not doing any favours to our egoes... we even got phonecalls and messages from people who travelled from faraway kingdoms (namely Blanchardstown and Kildare), two days after the tour, to thank us for the experience. And me who thought they were calling to sue us!!

But enough with the bragging. Time to put the spiders back in their box, to put out the fire under the Witch and to become good again.

Oulala is done with the Halloween duty of frights,
Christmas is on its way, it's time to create delights!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Follow the little white ball...

Last year, Meath Tourism and Meath Economic Development & Innovation approached us to realise a short video promoting the many activities the county has to offer around the time of The Solheim Cup 2011 and all year round.

The resulting film, produced in association with Supernova Productions, follows the Meath Tourism golf ball around our stunning sites and attractions: taking off at Killeen Castle with professional player Hazel Kavannagh, the little ball bounces on to the Newgrange site were tourists happily throw it on its way to the Fairyhouse Racecourse. There, the Irish Grand National is in full swing and the ball lands in front of Meath horse Garden Market. A young stable boy picks it up and the ball flies off again, bouncing from Trim Canoe Club, to Bective where Paul from Anglers World in Navan fishes it out, to a romantic lunch Brabazon Restaurant at Tanckardstown, followed by a beach roll in front of The Cottages at Bettystown. The cheeky ball pays a visit to punters and renowned Meath musicians Emmett Vaughan, MacDara and Micheál Ó Raghallaigh in Brogan's Bar, Trim. On its way out, our little hero is given a might good shot by Rosalie McCormack, a lady who has been a member of Trim various golf clubs since 1936! Finally, it is caught in mid-air by Joe Leahy from Ballooning Ireland, who gently drops it on the green of Killeen Castle Golf Course for a last winning hit by Hazel.

The film, written & directed by Delphine Coudray and beautifully photographed by Bertrand Lassallette-Desnault, took a month to shoot on location and wouldn't haven't been possible without the precious help from the venues and groups mentioned above, including Trim Drama Group and Bernard Caldwell. Last but not least, the sensational new band Henrietta Game brought the final touch to the film with their musical soundtrack “28 Hours” from their latest album "Black Ship".

You can see the video on the Meath Tourism Website www.meath.ie/tourism/ or Youtube page www.youtube.com/user/meathtourismIreland or follow the links on www.oulalaproductions.com

Friday, September 9, 2011

Trim: what are we facing now?!

I have learnt that most Irish Houses are designed on the same model: there's the kitchen where everything happens. Then, there's a sitting-room, or the “good room” or the “front room”, which the proud Mam always keeps tidy and nice. That is where visitors are brought to first. That's where the whole family gathers for very special occasions.

Well, for me, the Town Hall is the “Good Room” of the Town. Or at least, it should be. You wouldn't gather your loved ones, including your old auntie who's got arthritis and your little nephew who's four, into the garden shed for Christmas, now, would you?

And that is probably why so many people from Trim -including me- feel so angry or worried about the closure of their “Good Room”. The thing is, they have been angry or worried for a while. Sure, wouldn't you be if your front room was leaking, a bit smelly and -let's be honest- a bit dangerous? You'd do your best to patch things up. To make things look nice for when people come over. But you'd still be on to your landlord with some pleas: “what's going on? Can you do something about this?” You've always paid rent, so you think you are entitled to. You think it's not nice when, at night, after the washing-up is done and you'd love nothing better than to put your feet up in there, with your family, to enjoy some entertainment or just to be together, your landlord just walks in and says "Sorry mate, but you won't be able to go into this room anymore. Thanks for the paint an'all, but you'll have to use the garden from now-on".

Moving away from this analogy, but not too much, I remember that Trim Town Hall was the space that really welcomed me to Trim. I had been living here for a year, but I didn't know the community I had just moved in. It's through the Drama Group and the Musical Society that I got to know people in town. Not in the pub. Not in the shops. Not in the restaurants. That came later, because by then I had a “way in”. That community space was the way in.That is what INTEGRATION was about for me. I could have joined the GAA but I can't run to save my life. I could have join the choir, but I can't sing either. What happens in a Town Hall is unique, varied, entertaining and unifying.

I remember the small village where I lived in France and the Town Hall we had there. The design and size were exactly the same than Trim's one. It held dances, discos, plays, (we don't have pantos in France!) lectures, meet-and greet, mushroom exhibitions (!), we showed films, some practiced Karate, Yoga, weaving... I could go on. It was buzzing.

I even played bingo in Trim Town Hall. I painted sets, I acted, I directed and made really, really good friends. And I laughed a lot. I also cried a bit when I saw my babies on stage for the first time, with all their little friends, in bright costumes and proud as peacocks.

A town needs a few important things to survive:

- a butcher, a baker and a grocer to take care of people's Belly.
- a clothes/shoes shop to take care of people's Skin.
- a school and library to take care of people's Brain.
- a sports field to take care of people's Blood.
- a ruin to take care of people's Memory.
- a church (of whatever denomination) to take care of people's Soul.
- a pub to take care of people's Spirits. (Pun intended)
- a town hall to take care of people's Heart.

I am always proud to say -in Dublin, Navan, Paris or Brest- that Trim has it all and more... I am saddened and -frankly- a little bit horriffied to see that this may change.

My town, my new home, my new family, is now losing its “Good Room”, one that ceased to be Good a while ago, despite the efforts of the community. I know they won't give up quite yet. And now that I am -I believe- part of them, I won't either.

Delphine Coudray
Oulala Productions

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Community Theatre – Petty Court Sessions

Dunshaughlin Harvest Festival is fast approaching but the buzz already started a couple of months ago when Oulala Productions were approached by the festival committee: they wanted to bring the old courthouse back to life and give festival-goers a taste of the Petty Sessions as they used to be, back in the 1800s.

A period piece, site-specific, in its original setting, involving research, writing, costumes and enthusiastic performers from the community... what else could we ask for?

We got to work and immersed ourselves in the dark but fascinating times of the Famine, of Meath and its colourful characters, of quirky cases, moving human stories and how the good people of Dunshaughlin may have travelled to escape the hunger. In our writing, we could not ignore the political background of the times and had to include a very well-know English gentleman who changed the fate of many Irish children. We could not leave out the (in)famous Workhouse either... which, from the staff or the inmates, caused the most shenanigans? I'll say no more! Just maybe that we are thrilled to be part of this wonderful project; how much we have learnt so far and laughed and cried... and that's before the rehearsals even started!

Is it a coincidence that our last stage production was set in a courthouse, too? Maybe the Law likes us... let's hope it will last and that the only time we will have to stand in front of a Judge again, will be to adjust his wig and help him with his lines!

See you all on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of September in Dunshaughlin's Courthouse.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

getting in on the act...

The actor has to develop his body. The actor has to work on his voice. But the most important thing the actor has to work on is his mind.
Stella Adler

Acting is a very attractive thing, a very scary, challenging and sometimes unattainable thing.

Through my Drama workshops with teenagers and through various projects and past productions, I have often met parents, adults and young adults with a strong desire to act. Some of them had been members of Drama Groups for years, some of them were thrown on stage for the needs of a community project and had never seen a script before, others always had a desire to “give it a go” but never dared, preferring to send their kids instead.

The most common recommendation I would give was to join their local Drama group if they never experienced the stage and to try to apply for a job as an extra on a film set if they were curious about the film industry.

But then I realised that there was something missing for people who didn’t necessarily want to become professionals, people who didn’t have the time or budget to attend Drama classes in Dublin institutions, people who didn’t get a part in the latest local production, people who DID get a part but wanted a little more than to learn lines and rehearse.

This is why I decided to offer these people the opportunity to discover acting without having the pressure to perform, to workshop methods and explore their own range, their own relationship with the idea of acting and using what they expect and desire from it.

I am very excited to start this project and, of course, will keep you updated about its progress!

Delphine Coudray
Oulala Productions

For more info about The Actor Within, please visit our website: workshops. or our Facebook page.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Work it, make it, do it, makes us...

Today I helped to transform Trinity college into an institute for the permanently bewildered. At first we wanted to create a prison but we felt that an asylum would be more in keeping with the air of manic holiday-making as tourists hotfooted it around the yards and green spaces in search of celtic treasures. I was taking part in the Ahead of the Game workshop organised by Make-and-Do-PlayFair . It was led by Duncan Speakman, director of Subtlemob and all round instigator of silent street events. Duncan likes invisible theatre, the kind that happens while watching people move through everyday life. He likes technology, the kind that everyone has in their pockets - mobile phones, headphones, mp3's. He showed us how to use these everyday gadgets to create cinematic soundscapes which made the brick and stone buildings of Trinity fade away in front of our eyes.

We took turns experimenting with headphone tours. The university became a playground, a puzzle or a pilgrimage, depending on how we varied the sensory layers. We could scale it up visually or bring it down to microscopic level, speed it up to panic stations or slow the pace back through the use of voice and sound effects. In the afternoon we created a walking tour of the new state of the art Trinity Centre for the Permanently Bewildered, complete with cobble-stone therapy, bicycle recreation and other progressive rehabilitation techniques.

We learned how to create ghosts using cameras. We learned how the simplest of actions can have the most unexpected and unintended of consequences. We played mobile-phone hide and seek. Even the tourists played their part, walking around in circles and stopping every now and then as they tried to figure out what exactly they were supposed to be looking at. Rules of game-playing became apparent as we experimented. There were rules and a lot of the time they were asking to be broken.

It was great to just spend the day with like minded mischief-makers. Workshops are great for that. I also loved the fact that it was quick and easy to create little worlds and to see people enter them. It was quick to see what worked and what didn't and how to change it next time so that it worked better. It was the sort of workshop where you are sitting on the bus on the way home, thinking of different scenarios and how to pan them out using different methods.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Watch this space...

Taking a stroll in Trim is one of our great luxuries; huge green spaces, flowers everywhere, a big lively river, stunning heritage buildings... and now art on walls! How exciting to see local talent Meghan Quinn & John Gray given a blank canvas to add more colour to our town! We have been marvelling at their recent murals and had the privilege to follow their progress.

Their reconstruction of the old Market street is quite spectacular, yet delivered in a naive and nostalgic style that will enchant tourists no end. As for their giant Gulliver, finished just on time for the Trim Swift Festival, it not only represents our cultural heritage and the legacy of our famous writer, but also embodies the quirkiness and resourcefulness of our artists: using disaffected buildings and turning them into something beautiful and relevant.

This is something that the Irish artists have been campaigning for in the past years* and we feel it is an important part of moving on from the damage left by the recession. Like turning wounds into well-healed scars. The support of local authorities and business owners is invaluable in this process: last year, we were allowed the use of a restaurant for the Big End Breakfast, organised by Martin Tighe. This was a perfect example of the successful collaboration between business and artists: empty premises became a lively stage for performance, community encounters and delicious food! Other community groups are currently being helped along, again not with cash but with space. Space and time are our most valuable and unattainable tools. Without them, we cannot produce, we cannot entertain, we cannot survive.

With space and time, we can offer the magic, the wonder, the beauty, the laughter, the moving and the exciting that will delight locals and make tourists say “I'll have to go to Trim and see that!”

Just like Meghan and John's murals.

* See the National Campaign for the Arts for more info: http://www.ncfa.ie/

Monday, June 27, 2011

Invading the streets...

When Solstice Arts Centre approached us to coordinate their parade in Navan for their festival, we took a deep breath and we jumped right in: we LOVE parades! They are a lot of fun to work on and you always get to meet people that you haven’t met before.

It’s always good to see a community coming together to create some energy in the town and this was no exception. We worked with Belinda and her staff in Solstice to brainstorm some ideas for the parade regarding routes, themes and general ideas.

One thing we were all agreed upon was that we wanted it to be colourful. Once we were all happy with what we came up with, we had to get in touch with all the people that we wanted to take part in the parade, from the Youthreach Progression Samba band, to the schools and community groups, to the volunteers.

The phone calls started, the emails were sent, the letters were posted. School secretaries made appointments for Delphine to visit all the teachers and she got busy making prototype hats and props that the children could make.

The hunt for volunteers began, with help from Jeanette and Stephen in Meath Volunteer Centre. The town council, the Gardai and the Civil Defence were brought on board. Road closures were arranged, local businesses were contacted and the word was spread via social media, newspaper ads and announcements at Mass.

We arranged transport for those who needed it and treats for those who wanted them. We organised an induction meeting for volunteers and teachers so they could get to know each other and go through the ins & outs of the parade.

The night before the event, we made last minute changes to our event specific risk assessment document while the council put barriers and traffic cones out on the Fair Green and stiltwalkers invaded the shopping centre.

Somewhere along the line, we had made friends with the talented Marta at Callmarta Foto and the kind people at Lord Consulting Engineers, who let her use their 3rd floor office window. But we still hadn’t sorted out the weather! The Irish rain was pelting down for days, but by Thursday morning, the sky was blue and the sun came out to play as the children arrived to their pre-arranged positions to meet their stewards.

After that, it was just a case of making sure that the kids were enjoying themselves and that wasn’t hard, with the Navan Samba band beating out their infectious rhythms. With the sun as our grand marshall, the townsfolk came out to wave us on our merry way as we walked the route. Shopkeepers stood outside their windows to take it all in while Marta ran up and down the street capturing it all. After that it was just a case of cleaning up, and going home to get ready for the Fidget Feet show that night...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Joust for Fun

Jousting in the 12th century in Trim involved broken bones, cracked skulls, knights in shining armour and the ring of steel echoing off the castle walls. It was no fun. Oulala is more into having a bit of craic so we decided to do our own take on medieval jousting. It still involves beautiful maids and knights charging about the place trying to win mock battles but it's a lot less dangerous. Unless, of course, you fear your pride being hurt.
We spent the day down at the Trim Haymaking Festival overlooking the Norman castle. Names were made in the Porchfield as the local Lords and Ladies (Aidan Mitchell from Trim Drama Group and his lovely wife Angela) knighted those who survived the tournament.

We even had a fair maid from Cavan (Lady Russell) who threw her veil down and picked up the gauntlet. Strange times indeed!

For more pictures Click here

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Are you free in the next 2 weeks?

We are organising a BIG - COLOURFUL - UNFORGETTABLE parade in Navan for the Solstice Festival: more than 800 people will take part, forming a river of colours through the streets!

We invite PHOTOGRAPHERS and VIDEOGRAPHERS to seize the opportunity and come and shoot to their heart's content; get in touch with us and we'll organise access and the best spots for you to capture this vivid event.

We are also urgently appealing to VOLUNTEERS to come and help us on the day: all you will need to do is to welcome participants onto the Fairgreen in Navan and walk the Parade with them, making sure they don't walk too fast!

We will need you this Wednesday 8th June from 11am to 12pm for an induction meeting and on the day of the parade, Thursday 23rd June from 9.30am to 12.30pm.
We will take care of you as regards refreshments, a special nice thing just for you, etc.

If you are available and interested, please contact Delphine on 087 9747682. If you are not, please pass this message on to people who might be!

Thanks for your support!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Spaghetti Brains!

I was eating spaghetti bolognese in Bristol at the weekend. I needed to stock up on carbs because I was about to run in 2.8 Hours Later , the zombie game that happens as part of Igfest in Bristol every year. The city centre was full of grown adults all playing very strange games with each other and having fun.

The spaghetti might be my last proper meal I figured, and I knew that I had a long run ahead of me. We queued up with over 200 other people to play this game on a Saturday night in this bustling city centre. After receiving a quick briefing, we were let loose with a map and told to make our way to the zombie resistance HQ. In order to find the HQ we had to run through zombie infested areas, find clues and try and stick together. The latter proved impossible as we were picked off by brain-hungry zombies in alleyways, underpasses, parks and shopping centres. Zombies are not as stupid as you think. They wait for food to come along and then they run after it. The hungrier they are, the quicker they run. The nearer we got to the HQ, the quicker the zombies seemed to become. They must have been olympic sprinters before they got infected. You never knew when or where a zombie would appear so the body and mind was on full alert, adrenaline flowing and the blood pumping getting ready to scarper if they appeared around the next corner. We got lost, got frightened and made new friends along the way. Survival was the name of the game and us humans tend to last longer when we work together. Very few made it to the HQ without being infected. They were just too fast for a lot of us in the end. As a game, it is well designed. It combines the sensation of genuine fear with running like mad while grinning like a ten year old, and we all remember what that feels like. Inside you were screened for infection and if you were given the all-clear you could go and have your picture taken as a zombie survivor. Those of us who got infected were not so lucky.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Arts Journal

The red carpet was out in Kielys Bar in Trim last night and the popcorn was piled up in bowls along the counter. Film-maker, Noel Farrell, was having a local showing for his latest piece entitled "The Arts Journal". Noel directed and co-produced the piece which was written by Rita- Marie Lawlor. The Arts Journal is a pilot that will be sent out to national film and TV production companies in the hope that they will show an interest in developing it further. It shows a lot of promise.
The concept is a great source of comedic episodes as it follows the adventures of a frustrated presenter and cameramen whose job it is to travel around Ireland interviewing artistic types and ego-maniacs for a low-budget community TV show. The nearest thing they get to glamour is when they don't get abused by the people they are trying to help.
Rita-Marie plays the main character herself and Noel has gathered together another strong cast who are comfortable in front of the camera. Johnny Elliott is so comfortable that he should be arrested for pulling focus and Noel continues to work with local talent by persuading band on the rise, Youth Mass, to take care of music duties for the closing credits.
Noel is already working on getting ready for his next production, a web series based on his novel, Booker's World.
More popcorn on the way!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Kids are Alright

The excitement is building for the CDP drama group who are busy getting ready for their showcase in the next few weeks. These young people have been meeting every Saturday morning for the past year to explore drama and writing with the support of Meath Arts Office . Last year we had a look at character development and play structure. They enjoyed that so much that they decided that they wanted to learn how to create their own characters and write their own short skits. The results will be put on stage for their families and friends to see on June 11th in Claremount Stadium, Navan.

The group are made up of local kids aged 10 - 14. The majority of them have never acted before and despite the age differences they have all collaborated on their projects. It has been fantastic to see the progress that they have made since they first met as a group of strangers. The pieces reflect the individual interests of the performers, ranging from quirky characters, farcial slapstick and dark dramas. What has been most surprising about the work with this group is the ease with which they slip into the most surreal storylines that they can dream up. They even created a mad movement piece with very little words and abstract set-up!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Long Day

Midsummer is fast approaching and this has traditionally been marked in Ireland in different ways. These events have ranged from the pagan to the religious to the just plain weird. There is usually something for everyone to do to mark the day.

This year we are busy organising a colourful parade for Solstice Arts Centre. This event will see more than 500 children and adults, part of schools and groups in Navan, take to the streets on Thursday 23 June at 11am. All week, the festival will offer an array of cultural activities to celebrate the summer solstice, whether it is drama, film or music, so there will be plenty to see and do.

We are particularly excited about seeing the amazing Fidget Feet while the kids are looking forward to watching the Secret of Kells.

Should be fun!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hey Mr Cromwell, can we have our ball back?

We were up in the Porchiefields in Trim the other evening, watching Meath footballers try to kick a ball through the open window of St Mary's Abbey. The fact that the window was about 100ft up did not deter the lads from aiming potshots like Cromwells' cannonballs skywards. Photographers ran about the field snapping with their high powered lens while trying to avoid getting a ball on the head. Once the Meath lads found the measure of the Yellow Steeple (as it is known in the town), it wasn't too long before the balls started to sail through the window and out the other side.
The footballers were there to publicise the Trim Haymaking Festival which kicks off on the weekend of June 18th. This year there will be a High Kick contest with a cash prize going to the GAA club of the winner. There will also be the Toss-the-sheaf, the roll-in-the-hay, and us. Yes, Oulala Productions will be in the field.
We were there to talk to the organisers about our latest idea. They were delighted with what we had planned and gave us the go ahead. So we will see you all in the Porchiefield in Trim that weekend. Keep an eye out for us.
Roll on the 18th!