Photo: Spraoi St Patrick's Parade 2014
We have invited our members to tell us a little more about themselves, their backgrounds, inspirations and thoughts on the exciting art forms of Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle in Ireland (and further afield)!
Introducing Spraoi, a well-established and renowned street theatre company from Waterford, perhaps best known for its annual Spraoi Festival and Parade held every August Bank Holiday weekend. The Spraoi Festival, devoted to Street Art has become a firm favourite amongst locals and tourists alike and attracts's over 100,000 people to Waterford City over its three days and is also known to be the longest and largest street festival in Ireland, celebrating its 25 years in 2017.
Picture: The Copper Headby KeithCurrams
Can you describe your work?
Waterford Spraoi is best known for its annual international street arts festival, this year is the 25th. The company works from purpose-built studios in Waterford and produces shows and spectacles and events throughout Ireland. Spraoi has a strong commitment to co-producing new work with other artists and companies
How did you first get involved in Street Arts, Circus or Spectacle?
We were bored and decided to have a bit of craic.
What is your earliest memory of experiencing Street Arts, Circus or Spectacle?
In 1991 with Red Kettle Theatre Company we presented Tir Faoi Thonn by Macnas on the streets of Waterford.
Can you identify a pivotal moment that transformed your work significantly?
We decided quite early-on to make work of our own as well as inviting visiting artists to the festival. This gave the festival a uniquely Waterford flavor and content. The early work was rough, but we got better at it. By 2005 we opened European Capital of Culture in Cork – that was the biggest show of its kind made by an Irish company – and frankly, it was brilliant. That was a big moment for all the team.
Picture: Spraoi Hare by JL Creatives
What other activities, creative or otherwise do you do that contribute to your work?
We have been commissioned to do a lot of spectacle and performance gigs around Ireland. Spraoi also initiated, with ISACS, the N.E.S.T (New Emerging Street Talent) programme. In recent years we have worked closely with the Curious State Company as they created new street theatre shows. That’s been very exciting because their work is so inventive in combining conventional theatre and street performance disciplines.
What was your first experience like of presenting work to an audience?
We made up a show about what would happen if a statue of the Virgin Mary danced. It was the time of ‘moving-statues’ all over the Ireland. When the performer playing Mary stepped onto a black stage on a roasting hot day her bare feet roasted and blistered – but boy did she dance!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to show work publicly for the first time?
Small is beautiful – work within your resources, focus on detail and make it the best it can be. Also, pick the right location – a little show looks a lot bigger in a confined space or street.
Are you working towards any new projects at the moment?
Spraoi Festival is our current priority, along with filling-in Lucy’s questionnaires. We’re planning a woodland performance for October and we’re chatting with folks about a Christmas event.
Picture: Spraoi Parade 2015
How do you feel about the street arts, circus and spectacle sector in Ireland right now?
We think the sector’s full potential is not realised or recognised. The sector attracts tens of thousands of spectators annually – for many people it is their only point-of-contact-with the arts.
What do you think is necessary for the art forms of street arts, circus and spectacle to develop and grow in Ireland?
A bigger national vision and strategy is needed. All stakeholders should think-big. Irish street arts, circus and spectacle companies have already proven their capacity – we need to re-set our horizon line and strive to make truly world-class work.
What role/impact has the ISACS network had on your work to date?
It’s valuable to have the sense of collective support ISACS offers. It’s good to be in a room with other artists who you admire and respect – ISACS gatherings offer that.
Picture: Sparoi St Patricks Day Parade 2017 by Grahame Cullen
What is the best comment you have ever received for your work?
“Keep on Rockin’ in a Spraoi World.”
Finally, do you have any favourite tips or advice for emerging artists?
It’s OK to be an artist – eventually even your Mum will stop asking when you’re going get a real job
Join ISACS at Spraoi this year on August Bank Holiday Weekend and attend an incredible series of mind-blowing street arts events, festivities, artitstic development programmes and professional networking gatherings!