Scenes from Michael Gallen's first opera, due for full premiere performance in 2021.
'Elsewhere' is a large-scale opera/music-theatre work based on the story of the 1919 Monaghan Asylum Soviet. This soviet was the first of its kind to occur outside of the newly-established Soviet Union. It took place in a small Irish town only a few miles from what was soon to become the problematic border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Having held unsuccessful strikes for more humane conditions, and under threat from the Royal Irish Constabulary, the staff of the asylum barricaded the gates, raised the Red Flag and declared themselves an independent soviet commune. The 'lock-in' was considered a great success at the time: the gates were opened only after all the strikers' demands had been met.
Dealing with themes of utopia, fantasy and madness, 'Elsewhere' explores the other worlds that exist at the frontiers of imagination. The story of 'Elsewhere', told from the perspective of one of its patients, wends between the rational and irrational, the real and the imaginary, and interrogates the lines that separate them. It asks: What does it mean to border, to be bordered, to transgress?
'Elsewhere' is co-commissioned by Cie Miroirs Étendus, the Opéra de Rouen-Normandie, and Creative Ireland. It will also be co-produced in Ireland by Gallen's new music-theatre company, Straymaker, with the support of the Arts Council and the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.