The dust is only beginning to settle after the run of our sell out co-production with Talking Shop Ensemble at Dublin Fringe Festival 2019. Making a Mark, was our most ambitious piece of work to date and scooped four award nominations at the Dublin Fringe Festival Awards including Best Production and mBest Performer (Mark Smith) and winning the festivals prestigious Judges Choice Award. Making a Mark is a piece of contemporary documentary work that explores the life of Run of the Mill’s very own Mark Smith and began its life in development in 2018 with theatre artists Shaun Dunne and Aisling Byrne (your truly) of Talking Shop Ensemble as part of the PLAYGROUND Residency at Axis Ballymun. You can read all about it here in this article from The Irish Times. Making a Mark was supported by an Arts Council of Ireland’s project award, Kildare County Council, The Abbey Theatre, Project Arts Centre, FRINGE Lab, Axis Ballymun and Arts and Disability Ireland
The process of making Making a Mark kicked off in no less prestigious a venue than our National Theatre in July 2019. We were lucky enough to be supported by the the Abbey Theatre in our development of the piece as part of their 5×5 programme. You can watch our appearance on the RTE News and hear a little about our time at the Abbey here or watch a video from the Abbey Theatre that documents the process.
What followed across July 2019 was a period of filming with our director and writer Shaun Dunne and film artist Luca Truffarelli, who worked with both Mark, Mark’s family, friends, colleagues at TESCO, housemates and peers at Run of the Mill and Pathways Day Service (SJOG Liffey Region) to document various aspects of Mark’s daily life that would form part of the pieces sophisticated AV and film design. You can see some of this footage as featured in the promo for our trailer here.
Rehearsals then began apace across August between Axis Ballymun (our home away from home) and the fabulous FRINGE LAB in Temple Bar. We worked with an incredible team to make it all happen. Leading the room was our writer and director Shaun , co-performer and creator yours truly (Aisling), producer Killian Coyle, stage manager to the stars Gordan Bell, associate artist Leah Moore, sound designer Jack Cawley, stage and costume designer Sarah Foley, film artist and photographer Luca Truffarelli, lighting designer Eoin Winning and production manager Sebastian Pizarro with lots of help along the way from sound assistant Scott Maguire.
There was little rest as we descended into Fringe madness with producer Killian Coyle lining up what Mark says is one of his favorite aspects of being an actor- ‘the media’. There was a host of coverage with Mark featuring in everything from thejournal.ie and The Irish Times, The Sun and the Sunday Independents waking hour segment (where he had the opportunity to share his unique take on spaghetti bolognaise with the nation) as well his first ever live radio interview with Sean Rocks on RTE Radio One’s ARENA. You can read/ listen to some of these here:
The Journal.ie ‘People with intellectual disabilities were made to feel their stories weren’t as valuable as the next persons’ Sept 2019
The Irish Times. “The Incredible but True Stories of Mark Smith” August 2019
It wasn’t long before show week arrived and our team were working around the clock to realise the technical aspects of the production. We previewed at Project Arts Centre on Sept 11th, running for 4 nights before transferring to Axis Ballymun for two performances on Sept 17th. The production was completely sold out and played to an audience of over 600 across the run. We were simply blown away with the response- some of which you can catch in our reactions video here.
And that’s the story so far! 2020 is filled with plans to take Making a Mark to some near and far flung places so all we can say is…. watch this space!