Straymaker and The Abbey Theater in association with Extended Mirrors and Once Off Productions present ‘Elsewhere’, a new opera by Michael Gallen.
Elsewhere ‘premieres at the Abbey Theater on November 15 with performances November 15-20.
“Elsewhere” is based on the true story of the radical “Monaghan Asylum Soviet” from 1919.
Addressing the themes of freedom, care and mental illness, Ailleurs explores the imagined future of a forgotten past.
In 1919, the staff of the Monaghan asylum barricaded the doors of the hospital and declared itself an independent Soviet commune. Their strike brought asylum workers and patients together in collective action, presenting a revolutionary vision of what a care-centric society could look like.
The Soviet moment is in constellation with ours, which occurred during the influenza pandemic of 1918, and at a time when social and geographic boundaries were redrawing. Marked by death and misery, the strikers overcame sectarian divisions to demand humane conditions and equal pay for women and men.
In “Elsewhere”, these events unfold through the visions of Céline, a patient who, decades later, remains “locked” in the Soviet era, believing herself to be at her head. Through his interactions with the charismatic “Inspector of Lunatics”, we cross the lines between fantasy and incarceration.
Drawing on the buzz of whispered rosaries, the eccentric cadence of the border dialect and the faulty ornamentation of Oriel sean nós’ song, Elsewhere’s score mixes a delicate and introspective complexity with the hoarse energy of revolt.
The libretto is co-written by Michael Gallen with poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin and playwright Dylan Coburn Gray, and the production brings together a team of renowned Irish artists and rising international stars led by director Tom Creed and conductor Fiona Monbet orchestra. Singers and instrumentalists perform various characters, from patients and strikers to Marx and Jehovah, changing shape between work routines, football matches, negotiations, dances – in a dynamic that is both playful and eerie. Over time, we discover how Celine’s fate and that of the Soviet are linked.
Concept / Composer: Michael Gallen l Libretto: Michael Gallen, Annemarie Ní Churreáin, Dylan Coburn Gray l Director: Tom Creed l Direction: Fiona Monbet l Vocal director Romain Louveau
Scenography and costumes: Katie Davenport l Lighting designer: Sinead McKenna l AV designer: Luca Trufarelli l Choreographer: Shawn Ahern l Producer: Maura O’Keeffe
Singers: Aaron O’Hare, Amy Ní Fhearraigh, Adrian Dwyer, Aoife Miskelly Daire Halpin, Fearghal Curtis, Sinéad O’Kelly
Extended Mirrors: Aurélie Martin, Constant Madon, Cyprien Noisette, Elsa Moatti, Joséphine Besançon, Julia Macarez, Michèle Pierre, Sarah Van der Vlist, Romain Louveau
Location: The Abbey Theater
Dates: November 15 – 20
Hours: 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: 26 € – 40 € / Conc. 15 € – 27 €
FINANCED BY THE ARTS COUNCIL, CREATIVE MONAGHAN, FRENCH INSTITUTE
Supported by Monaghan Arts Office, Center Culturel Irlandais Paris and Íontas Arts Center Castleblayney
Straymaker is a new opera and musical theater company headed by Irish composer Michael Gallen. Founded in 2019, the company works with leading Irish and international artists to create innovative, genre-appropriate performance works for live and digital platforms. Straymaker’s production team is headed by Maura O’Keeffe and its film production is coordinated by Roisín Geraghty.
Rooted in the Irish border region, Straymaker’s manifesto is that of finding new ideas at the margins of disciplines, places and identities. The company is driven by the desire to find the threads of contemporary creation and performance that can be drawn from the rich musical and narrative traditions that flourished outside the great halls of imperial prosperity. His goal is to bring to a large and diverse audience an “opera” that they can recognize as theirs, and this is all the more innovative for him.
In November 2021, Michael Gallen’s new opera Elsewhere will premiere at the Abbey Theater. Based on the story of the Monaghan Asylum Soviet in 1919, Elsewhere was shortlisted for the European Fedora Prize for Opera and will tour internationally in 2023. The opera is co-produced by Straymaker with the Abbey, Once Off Productions and the French ensemble Miroirs Extendus.
Other Straymaker projects in development include Ways of Disappearing, a large-scale feature film project that offers a creative narrative of the myth of Orpheus in the context of the Troubles and The Curing Line, a new multidisciplinary collaboration with the famous poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin and Oscar nominated animation director Ross Stewart.
Straymaker is supported by Arts Council Ireland and Creative Monaghan.