by Jenny Macdonald
01 & 02 November 2019, The Civic
Princess Jenny is an everyday heroine on a quest to become a queen with a throne of her own.
Along the way she needs to fend off some adversaries from both outside and within. A modern fairytale that travels the world discovering the things we need to say and what it takes to say them.
Writer and Performer - Jenny Macdonald
Director and Dramaturg - Joe Salvatore
Designer and Maker - Troy Hourie
Jenny Macdonald is a writer, performer, director and facilitator. Recent credits include as director/performer This Was Never Going to Be Normal (Deirdre Murphy & Rebecca Reilly, Galway Theatre Festival)l; as director Can’t See the Woods for the Trees (Doors to Elsewhere Ensemble, Rua Red Gallery); as performer Capitalism: The Musical! by Deirdre Murphy (Galway Theatre Festival, XM24 and Next Emerson, Italy); and as director/facilitator the development of Falling by SoloSIRENs Collective as part of Abbey Theatre 5 x 5.
Her solo show Enthroned premiered at First Fortnight Festival and was then programmed in the New York International Fringe Festival. She is a mentor to Freshly Ground Theatre Company and served as dramaturg on their Dublin Fringe show Ode to a Postcode. She was a participant on Lead Role, a development programme for women artists run by Theatre Forum, Ireland and Kultur Vast, Sweden.
She is an alumnus of Dublin Theatre Festival’s artist development programme, The Next Stage. She is a tutor on New York University’s Masters in Community-Engaged Theatre and a guest lecturer in the Drama Department of Trinity College, Dublin. She is an Associate Artist with Tallaght Community Arts.
SoloSIRENs is the first festival Jenny has created and curated.
“Enthroned” – a feminist fable full of chthonic darkness and “Grimm” truths. Jenny Macdonald, a Canadian born Irish dweller, brings her brand of archival, documentary style, physical theatre to the East Village.
Her autobiographical story has been imagined as the search by a princess to find and ascend her rightful queenly throne. Born as the last sibling in a five pack, her childhood is one of an imaginative outsider growing furiously as a creeping vine along the outside of things and places. An irrepressible desire for learning and unearthing leads her along an alternative path, where she will find her tribe of like, living friends who will keep her buoyant through all of the necessary trials she must complete. The quest for self-acceptance does go right through the forbidden forest of carnal pleasure, where she loses a few slippers and kisses a few frogs. But throughout her journey, she is nagged by a shadowy countdown that pulls her back into snow secrets and slams her back to a paralyzing past moment.
Macdonald is an agile, comedic, raucous actress that drags you along like a racing leprechaun in search of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. She is mischievous with a disco ball twinkle in her eyes. At times we hold our breaths as we descend into the darker parts where the women www.enthroned.info can sleep for a hundred years, or grow long-haired and forgotten in tall towers if they are to await saving from self-absorbed princes. Macdonald creates her own white horse to gallop her to her rightful place as a self-accepting powerful woman. She electrified the theatre with her massive energy and her wise words.
Joe Salvatore is the American director that Jenny Macdonald snared to tell her story with his particularly glorious theatrical style. This collaboration has proved to be a great synergy between transformative truth telling and theatricality. The piece is beautifully imagined, perfectly executed, and crafted with wit and joy. Salvatore has found a great way to craft moments that are chilling and dangerous, which are heightened even further by the “fairy tale” context where villains can be monstrous. The story metaphor allows us to go into some deep wells of sorrow, as well as into the bright sunshine of freedom and release.
Troy Hourie’s design elements are simply divine. A miniature memoir kingdom is created with music boxes and revealing cupboards. The props cleverly transform as their meaning changes or are endowed with character, and I just loved the detail of each and every well-made piece. He created a lush and lovely world for Macdonald to play and grow in.
It’s a personal memoir wrapped in ingrained fairy tale archetypes that can both capsize and elevate you to a happy ending…where you finally fall in love with yourself. I thought she had written it just for me. It’s intimate, honest, and in your face. We need more of these 21st Century feminist fairy tales, with their wicked sense of humor, sensuality, and “anthemic” verses of self realized female power.
Fresh off their 5 x 5 programme in the Abbey Theatre, SoloSIRENs are set for a homecoming in the The Civic Theatre later on this year. SoloSIRENs is a series of theatre productions and discussions that are made up of a diverse group of women who are all either established or emerging in the theatre industry.
An initiative of Tallaght Community Arts, the SoloSIRENs series will kick off on November 1 with Enthroned, a solo production by Jenny MacDonald. Jenny, the creator and director of SoloSIRENs, caught up with The Echo recently to bring us up to speed on how she got to this point in her career.
Where are you from?
I am from Toronto, Canada.
How did you get into theatre?
The first show I did was at my summer camp in northern Ontario. I was a cat called Samuel. In secondary school, I started going to a place called the Young People’s Theatre every Saturday. It was somewhere between what would be a Speech and Drama school and a Youth Theatre in Ireland. I was hooked from that point on. I was really lucky to have some great teachers and mentors along the way.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in theatre?
I am really proud of my solo show Enthroned. It is the most personal piece I have ever made and I had to slog through some tough material to make it. I also feel proud of the way that I work. A long time ago I decided I am not the kind of artist who believes that people should be sacrificed to make the work great. I try really hard to create a context of care and support in any project.
What is your favourite part of the job?
I feel really lucky to do the work that I do. I get to travel a lot, I meet fascinating people, and my work is all about human story and connection. I love foraging around in some of the deeper layers of our feelings and experiences and seeing if I can bring a few gems of insight to the surface to share.
What do you want people to know about you and your work?
I really believe that the theatre gives us a chance to rehearse the ways we want to live and then to present those possibilities. It’s an exciting time in theatre. People are changing their approaches to it a lot. More and more people from different walks of life can make and participate in theatre and say what they need to say. I hope I am part of that change.
How long have you been working in theatre?
Working is a hard thing to define in the theatre. I guess if you mean “earning my living” that started about sixteen years ago. But if we are talking about working in theatre as in creating work for public presentation, that would be more like 25 years ago.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
There is a lot of uncertainty. I suppose there is in all of life, but in theatre the rate of change is fast and furious. You don’t always know when or where the next gig is or when or if you’ll have steady pay. Having said that, those challenges also keep it very alive. It’s kind of easy to live in the present in this work. We don’t get much choice!
What have you been up to recently?
In June I did a week of development with an amazing collective of women as part of the Abbey Theatre’s 5 x 5 programme. It was really exciting to work with an all-female ensemble and crew and to have the support of a national institution. We created a work in progress on the Peacock Stage. We will be developing it to present at the Civic Theatre, Tallaght in December as part of SoloSIRENs.
Do you have any big projects coming up?
I am very excited about my upcoming programme at the Civic Theatre. SoloSIRENs is a series of works by women running November and December of 2019. The first three pieces are solo shows. I will present my own work alongside the work of two artists I hugely admire: Nicole Rourke and Jacinta Sheerin. The series will culminate in a work by the women’s collective who did the Abbey Theatre 5 x 5 week. I want to create a space where we can investigate together and with our audiences what it means to be a woman today. I am really grateful to Tallaght Community Arts and the Civic Theatre for programming the work.
SoloSIRENS will be at the Civic Theatre from Friday, Nov 1 to Saturday, Dec 14. The production starts with ‘Enthroned’ by MacDonald and runs every two weeks.
The following shows are ‘Sweet About Me’ by Jacinta Sheerin, ‘Baggage’ by Nicole Rourke and ‘Falling’ by MacDonald and the SoloSIRENs collective.
Check out audience reactions to Enthroned by Jenny Macdonald as part of SoloSIRENs Festival