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Collapsing Horse in residency at Riverbank Arts Centre 2019

Described as  “One of the finest groups of artists to emerge in recent years” by The Irish Times, Collapsing Horse developed their new play, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,  over a year-long residency at Riverbank Arts Centre, supported by The Arts Council and Kildare Library and Arts Service.

Strategic Aims of the Residency:

  • To support a company of innovative artists to create a new work for young audiences.
  • To enable a broad range of groups throughout Kildare engage in this creative process.
  • To present the world premiere of an artistically excellent work for young audiences
  • To strengthen our relationship, and that of our audience, with a company that shares many of the artistic and strategic aims of Riverbank Arts Centre

Dan Colley, Artistic Director of Collapsing Horse, hosted a series of puppetry and storytelling workshops with people of all ages and life stages throughout Kildare.

‘I’ve had remarkable experiences up and down county Kildare, interacting with people in active retirement groups, day care centres and youth theatres, researching this show. Through a series of workshops, I’ve introduced people aged 8 to 90 to the techniques of puppetry and the story of ‘A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings’ and this has prompted discussions about theatre, magic and suspension of disbelief. These workshops have gone on to inform the work we’re doing with the play and also to give an early insight for Kildare audiences into the theatre being made at Riverbank Arts Centre.’   Dan Colley   

Dan Colley – Director
Andrew Clancy – Designer
Sarah Jane Shiels – Lighting Designer
Alma Kelliher – Composer

Starring Genevieve Hulme Beaman and Manus Halligan

The original story is classic magic-realist fable, by Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez.   A young couple find an injured old man outside their house, an old man who just happens to have a pair of enormous wings.
‘I was drawn to the story because of the magical-realist quality of it; the way in which it makes magic seem so everyday. I think there’s something in the child’s perspective on the world that’s naturally magical. The lines between “real” and “fantasy” easily blur. What this piece does is puts the whole audience, children and adults, in the same position, creating the possibility of ordinary everyday magic that pops out of a domestic storytelling scene.’ Dan Colley

In addition to the workshops, Collapsing Horse conducted a week-long technical rehearsal with the full company, supported by Riverbank Arts Centre.  For a show that comprises complex technical elements (eg live music loops and live video projection), this proved an immensely valuable support. 

Riverbank Arts Centre presented two performances of A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings on Saturday 20th July (World Premiere). The show went on to have a sell-out run at Dublin Fringe Festival, garnering excellent reviews.  The company will present A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings at the Abbey Theatre in December 2019. 

‘The particular design and dramaturgical ambition of this production could not have been realised without this residency. We wanted to achieve an ambitious design that looked and felt to the audience like it arose out of the storyteller’s everyday lives. The residency allowed a long and consultative development process, tapping into Riverbank’s network of community organisations. It also allowed enough time and technical support to realise the design, and adequate rehearsal so it felt effortless to the performers. This would not have been possible if our premiere was in a festival context, and yet the piece would not have a national and international touring life if it was not presented in a festival. Residencies like this one are essential to creating ambitious work that can tour.’ Dan Colley

‘Collapsing Horse is currently one of the most innovative theatre companies in Ireland. They have toured to Edinburgh, New York and Moscow with vibrant productions that entrance young audiences and delight all adventurous theatre goers. Having the company in residence at Riverbank Arts Centre has enabled Dan Colley and team share the creative process with groups like Griese Youth Theatre in Ballitore, Kildare Youth Theatre in Newbridge and the University of the Third Age in Maynooth. Wherever this production tours in the future, Kildare will have played a part in its creation and we are proud to have presented the world premiere of a masterful, witty and inventive production for all ages’  Linda Geraghty, Venue Director