For the month of September I'm doing an artist residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in County Monaghan, Ireland. The 450 acres and buildings are stunningly beautiful.
Tyrone Guthrie (1900-1971) was an acclaimed English theatre director who also wrote plays for radio, including one series that he wrote in Montreal on Canadian history for the Canadian National Railways Radio, which eventually became the CBC.
In 1953, he was invited to help launch the Stratford Festival of Canada. Intrigued with the idea of starting a Shakespeare theatre in a remote Canadian location, he enlisted actors Alec Guinness and Irene Worth to star in the inaugural production of Richard III. All performances in the first seasons took place in a large tent on the banks of the Avon River. He remained as Artistic Director for three seasons, and his work at Stratford had a strong influence in the development of Canadian theatre.
I'm staying in one of the self-catering cottages, pictured above.
The sitting room of my cottage.
The walking path along the lake in front of the Centre.
Horses in the field at the end of the lake.
My artist friend from Wisconsin, Rebecca Crowell is here at the same time as me. We've been here three days now and I'm beginning to settle down from all the newness and excitement. As he was showing us around on the first day, Paddy-the "go-to" person here-said that this place is the 'centre of loveliness'. What a positive way to begin our residency here.
We went for dinner in the big house last night and met the artists who are residents at the moment..it changes constantly. Twelve artists were at the table for dinner last night. Some people come for a month or six weeks, others come for one week. Many are from Ireland and many are writers or poets or multi-discipline artists. Most have been here numerous times. One of the musicians is leaving tomorrow and so someone suggested that we have a 'session' in the music room. The music room is an enormous open space, with a wide-planked wooden floor covered with a thick blue carpet. Tall windows open up to the courtyard below. A huge, ornate chandelier hangs from the 15' ceiling and a grand piano sits ready to play. One slim, intense man from Switzerland plays electric guitar. A small slender blonde woman from Germany improvised with him. She plays viola and does voice improv along with her own playing. She used every sound imaginable with her voice, nose and throat (although not a beat box kind of sound)...and was accompanied by the guitarist...it was absolutely incredible. When I closed my eyes her voice became another instrument playing every range of sound and emotion. Then, another man in the group, who is an Irish-born poet, spoke one of his poems to the voice/guitar sounds while another women artist did some improv chanting. The performance made me cry it was so haunting and lovely. The poet/voice/guitar group improvised three pieces together, and another woman read a story she'd written, then sang A cappella.
If I get nothing else out of this residency, this one evening would be enough.