Day 1 #  Artist in Residence the Courthouse Arts Centre Tinahely, Co Wicklow.

For some reason I feel like I am typing frenetically on a keyboard in a sci-fi movie and the word ‘ENGAGE’ which has been my command today has been achieved successfully. So I suppose you could say it is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

I set out to do today, as an artist, as a performer, to engage with people.

I used my tried and trusted form of creating a character from scratch and improvising around the location which was the exterior of the Courthouse( its footpath to be precise) and the character I created whom was a lady ( I called Susie) who travelled from Bray by hitchhiking to start her CE Cleaning scheme there. Props used were a sweeping brush and some coins.

Today was Pennybank day at the Courthouse, a savings facility set up by the Womens’ Network, the ICA in 1964 and now a wonderful resource for those who wish to ‘put their pennies aside’ as some said for  ‘a rainy day’, the majority were  for ‘Christmas’, one man was depositing money on behalf of someone else,a lady friend and  during our exchange communication wires got crossed and it emerged that he may have bought his lady friend on Ebay! (the joy of improvisation).

The customers of the Pennybank who were not expecting to be greeted by this larger that life character were engaging and interacted truthfully and wholeheartedly. I suspect some may have taken her for a ‘real’ person.

The joy of this kind of interactive performance work is that it has elements of clown and street theatre which heighten the experience for the audience member or person on the receiving end.

When they become aware that it is a character they are interacting with their levels of enthusiasm usually rise and they become animated and involved themselves more in the dialogue. Most will play along and their own sense of humour becomes more evident. Some of course will bolt and avoid any interaction.

I always enjoy this work and throw myself fully into the roles I create. I commit myself to the role I play and the truth of that character emerges informing me also as I proceed. I enjoy the humourous element to it and the art of the absurd.

I came away from the morning with a sense of accomplishment but also a question whether what I had achieved was necessary or even informative in terms of my research and development into the artist living in a rural environment, my function, my influence.

Is it just purely entertaining and that’s all it needs be. There is a lot more work which I aim to explore in the coming weeks and even then I might not even touch on what it is I aim to discover.

One thing I am sure of that as an artist, it’s important to connect with people and I look forward to conversations and stories emerging from my future liasons.

That was just the ice breaker.

Along the journey I will be passing on useful tips I acquire along the way. Always helpful.

TIP #1 To remove moss from a footpath, driveway etc, use washing powder, the less expensive one , none of that fancy stuff and it will remove moss from the affected area, it worked brilliantly for one lady, it might just work for you.

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