PETTYCASH: Fringe Festival

September 10, 2014 – Culture

We touch base with the ever so beautiful Niamh from PETTYCASH on their involvement in this years much anticipated Fringe Festival.

Niamh could you tell us a little about PETTYCASH collective?

PETTYCASH is a menagerie of spoken word/theatre performers, visual artists and musicians. The collective was started by Oisín and I back in 2012. We’d just graduated from college where we studied English Lit. and Creative Writing – we didn’t have jobs, couldn’t afford to emigrate and didn’t fancy the prospect of launching ourselves into an expensive masters course to pass the time. We did however have a shared love of and belief in spoken word and theatre as a means by which to create a forum for people to discuss what was going on with them,their culture and society in a way that was engaging, immersive and fun. We knew a bunch of talented people and we had an itching to create something.  We started by putting on monthly shows in the Little Green and the collective grew from there. PETTYCASH was/is very much focused on the idea of community, of shared/sharing experience and giving voice to the things that are important to us. It’s a response to being a bit lost, a bit broke and a bit of a mess – but having a lot to say about that.

What inspired you to be part of this years fringe?

A few things actually; Emer (Brady) – a whopper poet/musician and fellow member of the collective – and I started playing with a  few ideas in conversation a few months back. We were discussing spoken word and performance and she remarked it was a lot like an exorcism – you’re expelling a part of yourself with every performance, in the hopes that something meaningful and reaffirming comes out of that act – or at least someone might enjoy it… and despite the fact that it is a performance , you’re performing an aspect of yourself, presented in your own words for all to witness and you’re very much on display. It’s terrifying but also cathartic and freeing. And really performance is just a hyper version of what we do day to day – everyone is on a stage of sorts(not the first cliché I’ll use today, bear with me it serves the purpose),everyone is checking their lines. We were interested in that tension between what we can and cannot share or have heard out loud. What we say to ourselves and others, who we are to ourselves and others. The anxiety and fear of being heard/seen is often experienced simultaneously with the need for expression.
So we started thinking about that on a larger social scale. Whose voices get heard, acknowledged and validated and what does that mean for individual and collective identity and furthermore how does that effect our concept of ‘freedom’ – that pesky little word that gets bandied around a lot. These discussions were further informed by political and social developments in the past year in Ireland which have brought to light issues of identity and autonomy, which is something every member of the collective has been affected by – on some level.
So in short we felt we had a lot we wanted to say . And what better platform to support that than the Fringe?


Could you tell us about the performance itself, what do you guys have lined up?

Úr (meaning earth, beginning) is an experiment with spoken word, theatre, music and installation. We’ve written the whole show through work-shopping with the spoken word performers and musicians. So while Emer and I conceived of the original concept for the show, it’s grown to what it is now through a communal process. Everyone has brought something to the show, everyone has had a hand in its formation. The poets wrote from each other’s work, exchanging lines and ideas. Poets Vicki and Andy are such presences, it’s been real interesting seeing how their styles and voices have worked together and influenced each other. There are also parts of the show where the musicians have riffed off the poets and then other parts where the poets’ work have taken prompt from what the musicians had laid down. And they’re a formidable bunch of noise makers; Lizzy ( Bitch Falcon) is doing some cool things with looping and vocal distortion, Kev (Blind Yakety) is on guitar and is an amazing vocalist, he’s so musical, Fog our bassist is laying down some dark and rolling base and Stu is wrapping all that in warm layer of dissonant noise. It’s loud. There’s a lot of play happening with sound. And visually it’s going to be riot, we have our good friends at Hunt&Gather to thank for that. A lot of fun went into the making of this show.

As for content, the show addresses political dis-empowerment and social exclusion. In light of Panti-gate, the continued enforcement of the 8th amendment and the onslaught of moral regulation and body shaming now inherent in social and traditional media, Úr seeks to articulate a strong message of dissent and ultimately – empowerment.

We’re building a platform for periphery voices, for the creeps and freaks to sing out for all to hear. At it’s heart, the show is about freedom and acceptance. It’s about embracing your other-ness, presenting it boldly and without apology.

unnamed (2)

It’s going to be a fully immersive experience by the sounds of it, how do you expect your audience will receive such a performance?

Haha, it’s hard to say…or rather I don’t really want to speculate. Hopefully well it’s ‘gonna get real loud. Fringe audiences are an open and adventurous lot though, as are the audience that usually come to see PETTYCASH shows so I’m sure we’ll have ourselves a grand time together.

Where and when will the performance be taking place?

Our venue is amazing! The show is taking place in TheMart in Rathmines which has been established for a few years now and has hosted all kinds of events from theatre and exhibitions to food markets and record fairs. The venue managers Mathew and Ciara have been so helpful and enthusiastic about what we’re doing. It’s really refreshing. The venue itself used to be an old Fire Station, and then it was a family home. We’ve heard tell that there’s a ghost. We’re all over that. We’ll see if we can conjure up some spirits on the night.


On the lead up to the opening night, what are you most excited about/for?

Uhhh. Jeez I don’t know. I’m feeling all the feelings. Mostly I can’t wait to perform with a bunch of amazing artists and put on a damn show!

Words: SBK FOX