A few yarns on Stitching

Solas Nua's music curator Sarah O'Halloran is a composer from Ireland and she is currently an Artist-in-Residence at GWU. In today's post & a few up-coming blog entries she's going to give us a peak behind the scenes of her GWU residency project Stitching. It's a dramatic piece with a text by Northern Irish playwright Colin Stanley Bell.

Sarah O'Halloran

Sarah O'Halloran

Here's Sarah O'Halloran:

Stitching tells the story of Lana and her Nana, who have lived together since Lana was about three. All they have is each other, and they share a life full of imaginative stories. These stories protect them from the harshness of life. Recently Nana hasn’t been doing very well, her memory is starting to fail, so Lana looks after her as best she can. She’s afraid to ask anyone for help because they don’t want to be separated, and besides, who would she ask? After finding Nana waiting at a bus stop in her nightdress, Tom, the local postman decides to get involved. He takes Lana on a journey through time and space, so that she can try to recover her Nana’s memories. Will she succeed?

Stitching is a radical re-interpretation of a play called Lana’s Nana written by Colin Stanley Bell in 2011. Colin is an award winning playwright from Northern Ireland, who was recently on attachment with both National Theatre of Scotland and the Traverse theatre. He's even worked with Solas Nua's old friends Tinderbox. Stitching is more than a version of Lana's Nana with a few songs thrown in. Together we created a new form and envisioned a new method of telling the story. Colin created a new text to accommodate the addition of music and multimedia.


Here’s Colin Stanley Bell on the origins of Lana’s Nana and Stitching:

Colin Bell

Colin Bell

The piece [Lana's Nana] was commissioned by East Lothian Council for their Youth Theatre and was inspired by the stories and recollections of the local area by the men and women attending Dunbar Day Centre on Scotland's East Coast. We shared tea and buns on Friday mornings and, after a short time, I was fortunate to hear a whole range of personal stories. Their ideas about family secrets and lost histories formed the backbone for the story. The piece was performed for the Dunbar Day centre by the Youth Theatre and although the story contained some controversial elements, the Dunbar residents were delighted. We had knitters throughout the East of Scotland who knitted and crocheted our set. The play was then selected for performance at The Youth Theatre Festival in Scotland.


I met Colin in 2011 when my sister, dramaturg Deirdre O’Halloran, chose his moving play  Pigeons for Siamsa Tíre’s New Voices Platform in our hometown Tralee. I loved the frankness of the play, and its emotional depth, so I was keen to find a way to work with Colin. After that we discussed collaborations online, and during one Skype chat we noticed that both of us were interested in things like magical realism, the sea, memory and secrets. He told me about Lana’s Nana and shared a script with me. I loved it. And we decided that an adaptation of it would be a good project for us. That's where our work began.

Thanks for your interest in Stitching. More soon.

You can see a workshop performance of Stitching at GWU's Dorothy Betts Marvin Theater on April 4th and 5th at 7.30.