Straymaker and The Abbey Theatre In association with Miroirs Étendus and Once Off Productions Present 'Elsewhere' A New Opera by Michael Gallen

Straymaker and The Abbey Theatre In association with Miroirs Étendus and Once Off Productions Present 'Elsewhere' A New Opera by Michael Gallen

Thursday, 7 October 2021, 12.50pm

Straymaker and The Abbey Theatre in association with Miroirs Étendus and Once Off Productions present ‘Elsewhere’, a new opera by Michael Gallen.

Elsewhere’ premieres at The Abbey Theatre on 15 November with performances from 15th to 20th of November.

‘Elsewhere’ is based on the true story of the radical “Monaghan Asylum Soviet” of 1919.

Dealing with themes of freedom, care and mental illness, Elsewhere explores the imagined future of a forgotten past.

In 1919, the staff of the Monaghan Asylum barricaded the hospital gates and declared themselves an independent Soviet commune. Their strike brought asylum workers and patients together in collective action, presenting a revolutionary vision of what a care-centred society could look like.

The moment of the Soviet is in constellation with our own, occurring during the 1918 Flu pandemic, and at a time when social and geographical borders were being redrawn. Marked by death and hardship, the strikers overcame sectarian divides to demand humane conditions and equal pay for women and men.

In ‘Elsewhere’, these events unfold through the visions of Celine, a patient who decades later remains ‘locked in’ to the moment of the Soviet, believing herself to be its leader. Through her interactions with the charismatic ‘Inspector of Lunatics’ we tread the borders between fantasy and incarceration.

Drawing upon the hum of murmured rosaries, the eccentric lilt of the border dialect and the glitched ornamentation of Oriel sean nós song, Elsewhere’s score melds a delicate, introspective complexity with the raucous energy of revolt.

The libretto is co-written by Michael Gallen with poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin and playwright Dylan Coburn Gray, and the production brings together a team of renowned Irish artists and rising international stars led by director Tom Creed and conductor Fiona Monbet. Singers and instrumentalists play a range of characters from patients and strikers to Marx and Jehovah, shape-shifting between work routines, football matches, negotiations, dances - in a dynamic that is both playful and uncanny. Over time we discover how Celine’s fate and that of the Soviet are entwined.

Concept/Composer: Michael Gallen l Libretto: Michael Gallen, Annemarie Ní Churreáin, Dylan Coburn Gray l Director:Tom Creed l Conductor: Fiona Monbet l Vocal Director Romain Louveau
Set & Costume Designer: Katie Davenport l Lighting Designer: Sinead McKenna l AV Designer: Luca Trufarelli l Choreographer : Shawn Ahern l Producer : Maura O’Keeffe

Singers: Aaron O'Hare, Amy Ní Fhearraigh, Adrian Dwyer, Aoife Miskelly Daire Halpin, Fearghal Curtis, Sinéad O'Kelly
Miroirs Étendus: Aurélie Martin, Constant Madon, Cyprien Noisette, Elsa Moatti, Joséphine Besançon, Julia Macarez, Michèle Pierre, Sarah Van der Vlist, Romain Louveau

Venue: The Abbey Theatre
Dates: 15 - 20 November
Times: 7.30pm
Tickets: €26 – €40 / Conc. €15 – €27

Supported by Monaghan Arts Office, Centre Culturel Irlandais Paris and Íontas Arts Centre Castleblayney


Straymaker is a new opera and music-theatre company led by Irish composer Michael Gallen. Established in 2019, the company works with leading Irish and international artists in the creation of innovative, genre-bending performance work for live and digital platforms. Straymaker’s production team is headed by Maura O’Keeffe, and its film production is co-ordinated by Roisín Geraghty.

Rooted in the Irish border region, Straymaker’s manifesto is one of finding new ideas at the margins of disciplines, places and identities. The company is driven by a desire to find the threads of contemporary creation and performance-making that can be drawn from the rich storytelling and musical traditions that flourished outside the grand halls of imperial prosperity. Its goal is to bring wide, diverse audiences an 'opera' that they can recognise as their own, and that is all the more groundbreaking for it.

In November 2021, Michael Gallen’s new opera Elsewhere will have its world premiere at the Abbey Theatre. Based on the story of the 1919 Monaghan Asylum Soviet, Elsewhere was shortlisted for the European Fedora Prize for Opera and will tour internationally in 2023. The opera is co-produced by Straymaker with the Abbey, Once Off Productions and French ensemble Miroirs Étendus.

Other Straymaker projects currently in development include Ways of Disappearing, a large-scale feature-film project which sets a creative retelling of the Orpheus myth against the background of the Troubles and The Curing Line, a new multidisciplinary collaboration with acclaimed poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin and Oscar-nominated animation director Ross Stewart.

Straymaker is supported by Arts Council Ireland and Creative Monaghan.

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