#23 All The Berkeley’s A Stage…

Those working in the Berkeley over summer may have wondered what was happening with groups of students (fairly quietly) tearing around the place, occasionally in costume. Isn’t this supposed to be a library? Don’t the signs ask for silence? Well…

This was all in preparation for Silence is Requested, a site-responsive piece of work that was researched, created and performed by students of the LIR National Academy of Dramatic Art at Trinity College. Directed by Louise Lowe, multiple performances per day ran in the Berkeley during 12-14 July 2017.

Many of the scenes drew on interviews the students conducted with former students, and past and current members of Library staff.

Deliberately, 12 July 2017 was chosen for the first performance as it was the fiftieth anniversary, to the day, of the Berkeley Library’s opening.

LIR was invited to create and perform this work by Clíona Ní Shúilleabháin, the Subject Librarian for Drama and Film this year, under the umbrella of the Berkeley50 celebrations. The project is part of the LIR students’ final assessments.

Research using magazines from 1967.

The work was intended to weave in and out of the day-to-day activities of the Library and therefore performances were not highlighted as being performances. The actors and Library staff involved did their utmost not to disrupt the business of the Library, although sometimes such disruption was unavoidable.

Our next post goes into one audience member’s experience in detail. As a “promenade” piece, vignettes were staged throughout the Library rather than in one location, and the audience led from one scene to another, so that the performance would vary for each audience member. In Clíona’s case, for example, she *didn’t* see the strand below that followed a student trying to avoid her diplomat father so that she could elope to marry the Deputy Librarian. This was, as they say, based on actual events! The diplomat’s daughter tries to stay one step ahead of her father, enlisting the help of a member of Library staff (afraid of losing her job) and the audience’s help to make it to the wedding.

Images: Maura Hickey/SHARPPIX and Estelle Gittins.