The Big Chapel X (2019)

After 3 years of development, and one Arts Council Open Call Award, in association with Kilkenny Arts Festival and supported by The Abbey Theatre we created The Big Chapel X.

What happens when a town takes on the retelling of its own dark history?

THE BIG CHAPEL X was a promenade adventure into an alternate world of gods and monsters. A future-town where lies and truth are interchangeable, and public opinion is formed by dangerous rhetoric.

A place where the only hope for the future is the voice of a teenager.This could be my town, or your town… or any town.

Thomas Kilroy’s  Booker-nominated novel is a fictionalised retelling of  the real events surrounding the internationally notorious Callan Schools’ Affair. Our radical adaptation saw the people of Callan retelling their own story, using the town of Callan as its stage. 

We brought together an exceptional core team of artists makers, creaters, dreamers and doers.

Engaging people early on with a One County One Book campaign in partnership with Kilkenny County Libraries. We also created The Big Chapel Podcasts hosted by Etaoin Holahan of Fennelly’s of Callan.

We invited internationally renowned architecture practice Studio Weave to partner with us once again and to lead an Architecture Strand in association with UCD.

We held over 20 training sessions for 3 months with 42 participants in the local parish hall to build a Riot Squad. The long lead-in time meant that the group were able to develop fitness, skills and real trust.

Composer Irene Buckley created an original choral score. Creating 3 new choral works (and 1 fiendishly clever cover arrangement of the Kaiser Chiefs’ I predict a riot )  for the 56-strong inclusive Community Choir.

Over 180 people made up (what we called )our Hit Squad – for example: 2 chefs providing over 800 meals eaten at 1 table, 63 traffic stewards at 8 diversion points, 98 stewards, 2 pyro guys and 1 small army doing countless other jobs…

1 Core Cast – made up of 31 mixed professional and non professional actors.

The production took place over 9 stages across the town. 8 Sold out Performances. 1 night of torrential rain for our open dress rehearsal. Total ticketed audience 887

[not counting the 200+ per night who came out to watch the on-street action…some even bring their own deck chairs].

The production also garnered critical acclaim and 4 Irish Times, Irish Theatre Awards Nominations for Best Production, Best Ensemble, Best Lighting and a Judge’s Special Award to the town of Callan.

How we got there