Out of the Ordinary Workshops on Inis Meáin

Thursday, 16 September, 2021
Vr Headset Inis Meáin

Last weekend we spent two glorious days on the magical island of Inis Meáin running development workshops for Out of the Ordinary.

Surrounded by the iconic stone walls and the quietness of the island, we were trepidatious as we set out, not quite knowing who we would meet when we set up at Coláiste Naomh Eoin the next day. Much to our delight, we were met with enthusiasm and openness, if a little mystery as to what we were all about, by the local community. But any trepidation quickly gave way to collaboration and creativity as we got to work getting to know the community and developing the opera.

The workshops kicked off with a day of activity with secondary school students of Coláiste Naomh Eoin, a small school of about 40 pupils. The students are made up of residents of the island as well as students from the mainland, who come to school here to improve their Gaeilge and get a taste of island life.

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We started with an introduction to VR which, unsurprisingly, was a huge hit. This was followed by a music workshop where we worked with the students to learn What Might Have Been and Empty Raindrops, pieces created by composer Finola Merivale and writer Jody O’Neill inspired by the work done in online workshops for the project earlier in the year.

The day wrapped up with a writing workshop led by Jody, who shared some of the material we’ve been working on with our other participants and brought the children through some exercises to develop the themes and story of the opera.

The next day we worked with a mixed group of adults and younger people. This work was more focussed, really drilling down to develop our story in order to end the day with a clear direction from which to build out the text for the opera.

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We were bowled over by the generosity of spirit of the people we met on the island, both in our workshops and around the island, from the local swim to the sing song outside the pub. What a treat to be meeting communities in person after so many months of lockdown. Many thanks to everyone at Coláiste Naomh Eoin, to the team at Comhlacht Forbatha Inis Meáin and to everyone we met for such a warm welcome. There really is no substitute for real life activity!

As an nGnách ceardlanna ar Inis Meáin

An deireadh seachtaine seo caite chaitheamar dhá lá ghlórmhara ar oileán draíochtúil Inis Meáin, ag reáchtáil ceardlanna forbartha do As an nGnách. I measc na gclaíocha cáiliúla agus ciúnas an oileáin, bhí faitíos orainn agus muid ag teacht isteach, i ngan fhios dúinn cé a bheadh linn nuair a shocróimid i gColáiste Naomh Eoin an lá dár gcionn. Bhí ríméad orainn gur chuir an pobal áitiúil fáilte dhíograiseach agus oscailte romhainn, cé go raibh beagáinín mearbhall orthu fúinne agus an méid a bhí ar siúl againn. Ach ghéill aon fhaitíos do chomhoibriú agus do chruthaitheacht a luath a thosaíomar ag obair; ag cur aithne ar an bpobal agus an ceoldráma á fhorbairt againn.

Chuir lá gníomhach tús leis na ceardlanna, le daltaí meánscoile ó Choláiste Naomh Eoin – scoil bheag le thart ar daichead scoláire. Freastalaíonn muintir Inis Meáin ar an scoil, chomh maith le daltaí ón mórthír, a thagann anseo chun feabhas a chur ar a gcuid Gaeilge agus chun saol an oileáin a bhlaiseadh.

Thosaíomar le bunchúrsa ar réaltacht fhíorúil, a raibh an-tóir air ar ndóigh. Leanamar é seo le ceardlann cheoil, inar oibrigh muid leis na scoláirí chun What Might Have Been agus Empty Raindrops a fhoghlaim, píosaí a chruthaigh an cumadóir Finola Merivale agus an scríbhneoir Jody O’Neill. Tháinig inspioráid na bpíosaí as an obair a rinneadh sna ceardlanna ar líne a reáchtálamar níos túisce i mbliana.

Chuireamar críoch leis an gcéad lá le ceardlann scríbhneoireachta le Jody, a roinn leis an ngrúpa cuid den ábhar a bhí á scríobh againn lenár rannpháirtithe eile, agus a thug na scoláirí trí roinnt cleachtaí chun téamaí agus scéal an cheoldráma a fhorbairt.

An lá dár gcionn, d’oibríomar le meascán de dhaoine fásta agus de dhaoine óga. Bhí na ceardlanna seo níos dírí, ag luí isteach ar an obair chun ár scéal a fhorbairt agus chun an lá a chríochnú le treoir shoiléir a chruthódh téacs an cheoldráma.

Chuaigh flaithiúlacht na ndaoine lenar chasamar ar an oileán go mór orainn, flaithiúlacht a bhí le feiceáil sna ceardlanna agus timpeall an oileáin, sa snámh laethúil nó sa seisiún amhránaíochta lasmuigh den teach tábhairne. A leithéid d’aoibhneas a bheith in ann bualadh le pobail tar éis an oiread sin míonna den dianghlasáil. Míle buíochas le gach duine as Coláiste Naomh Eoin, le foireann Comhlacht Forbartha Inis Meáin agus le gach duine a chur fáilte chroíúil romhainn. Níl aon ionadaí ar bith ann do ghníomhaíochtaí san fhíorshaol!