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2020/2021 Artist in Residence – Dan Colley

In Autumn 2020, theatre-maker Dan Colley began a 2-year artist residency hosted by Riverbank Arts Centre and at various locations in Co. Kildare with the aims of:

  • Researching and developing three new theatre projects: Lossless, The Wren and Sugar Plum
  • Developing and deepening his own artistic practice through research and writing
  • Developing the artistic practice of collaborating artists and providing paid employment opportunities for theatre artists and technicians throughout the residency period.

For this first phase of Dan Colley’s residency he will focus on Lossless, an experimental theatre piece which explores dementia, memory and performance. Lossless is inspired by an article in the New Yorker “The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care” by Larissa MacFarquar and Dan’s personal response to his grandmother’s experience of Alzheimer’s disease.
“The article describes a relatively new practice in dementia care which involves meticulously recreating the built environments from the patients’ childhoods. In my grandmother’s home, for example, there’s a fake row of shop fronts, a bus stop and post office designed to look like Ireland in the 1940s. The New Yorker piece describes whole wards where the patients’ rooms are made to look like clapboard houses with front porches and wooden fences. The corridor then looks like a street with the ceiling painted like the sky, artificial lighting to recreate day and night. Basically – it’s like set design on a grand scale. Or like immersive theatre. It raises questions about the ethics of treating people with delusional psychiatric illness. Carers are frequently put in the position of either having to confront the person’s delusions (“no he’s not coming, he’s been dead for years”, “no this is your home, you live here now”) and thus, over and over again, create a sense of confusion and grief; or to lie to them (at least by omission) and deny them the agency that is their right.”

Dan Colley is a Creative Director and Producer specialising in ensemble-devised theatre, theatre for young audiences, comedy, community participation, puppetry, and outdoor spectacle. He is an experienced dramaturg, script editor and facilitator. Dan trained as a Youth Theatre Facilitator with Youth Theatre Ireland and holds a BA (hons) in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway.
Previous work includes:
DIRECTOR: A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings (Collapsing Horse, 2019 – world premiere at Riverbank Arts Centre)
CO-DIRECTOR: The Water Orchard (Collapsing Horse/Project Arts Centre, 2017)
DIRECTOR/Co-WRITER: The Aeneid (Collapsing Horse, 2016)
DIRECTOR/WRITER Conor: at The End of the Universe (Collapsing Horse, 2016)
DIRECTOR: Me, Michael (Abbey Theatre, 2015)