Part of the Abhainn Rí Festival, Callan, Co. Kilkenny 2015

An extraordinary theatre production taking over an entire street, playing out it’s past present and future.

With a community cast of 70 players, 2 pigs, a bull, 6 chickens, a civil war battalion, a submarine
and a flood…

What more could you ask?

Bridge Street Will Be … Epic.

30 JUNE – 04 JULY @ 7.30 pm (2015)

An immersive ‘choose-your-own-adventure’, re-imagining the past present and future of the entire street; the production encouraged the audience to explore freely experiencing time layered over time. 

The audience were invited into buildings long boarded up, getting a chance to see them alive once more. The cast of community volunteers, supported by theatre professionals, created a spectacle that will last in the collective memory of the town.

Click here for an in-depth radio documentary Bridge Street Will Be (50 min) on the story of Bridge Street by Monica Hayes, KCLR96fm.

“Months of experimentation lengthy rehearsals and local voluntary initiative culminated in an extraordinary public spectacle that saw an entire street transformed into a stage and unoccupied buildings restored to life.  Audiences were taken on a wondrous journey into the town’s past and offered some off-beat visions of the future in this zany, occasionally moving …always hugely entertaining production.”

Kilkenny Reporter (published 08/07/2015) 

How did we get there?

The Bridge Street Project 2013 – 2015

In 2013

We went down a magical collaborative rabbit-hole with Equinox an inclusive theatre company based in KCAT Arts Centre in Callan, to examine the small but perfectly formed Upper Bridge Street. Historically, this street was once the main route between Cork and Dublin, and was the commercial hub of Callan. Far too narrow for this purpose, the street was plagued for decades by congestion. Once bypassed, the street began a slow decline. In recent years Bridge Street, had largely fallen into disuse, disrepair and disregard. 

In 2014

in collaboration with Equinox, we opened the pop-up café Bridge Street Will Be… in the (very dilapidated) former Bradley’s Chemist shop to engage with the people of Callan and the users of Bridge Street, offering free tea or coffee and cake in exchange for stories and local lore about the street. 

This initial investigation eventually snowballed by

2015

into an inclusive, theatre & architectural engagement with the town of Callan, in partnership with Trasna Productions, Equinox, KCAT; Callan Workhouse Union, and London-based architects, Studio Weave.

The project looked at rediscovering the possibilities of Irish town centres through a collective re-imagining of Bridge Street as a public space with a civic future. 

Together, we activated empty houses, shops, the street & local people’s imaginations.

Bridge Street Paint

The aim of the architectural engagement was to provide a physical and infrastructural legacy for the community and town, to compliment the more ephemeral nature of the theatre strand of the project.

The architectural and theatrical approaches were developed in tandem. The theatrical narrative began to explore the idea of all past and future times co-existing on the street, and of cycles of change and transformation. 

In response, Studio Weave proposed to imprint each façade of the street onto its opposite side, celebrating the conversation that the two sides have been having over the years.  As all the people who have lived and worked in Bridge Street over the years have affected each other, so too the buildings along this narrow street have influenced each other. 

The street painting was open to everyone and the design of the paint scheme included differing levels of detail and complexity to cater for a range of skill and ability.

For a three week period in June, the street was closed for several hours a day to facilitate painting and rehearsals. Free of motor traffic, the street came alive each afternoon. While community cast and volunteer painters worked, children played in the street, and locals gathered to chat, admire the emerging design and to watch rehearsals in baffled bemusement.

Bridge Street Make

At the same time, Fennelly’s yard became home to daily furniture making workshops, making public furniture for the town. 

These light-weight cubes were designed as seating for the theatrical performance element. They can also be stacked and arranged in multiple configurations and are an ongoing resource for community events.