The Drama of the Irish Language: Chatting with Darach Ó Tuairisg of Irish Theatre Company Fíbín

The following is a transcript of the LIVE members' chat hosted here at TheWildGeese.com on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 with Darach Ó Tuairisg, Producer and Managing Director at Fíbín Teo. Some editing has been applied for clarity.

The Wild Geese:  Céad míle fáilte, a chairde! So glad to see each one of you who have stopped by for this evening’s LIVE Community Chat here at TheWildGeese.com.

We’re talking Irish performing arts and theatre today ... and more specifically, theatre through the medium of Gaeilge (the Irish language).

With us is Darach Ó Tuairisg, Producer and Managing Director at Fíbín Teo. Fíbín is an Irish language theatre company based in the Connemara Gaeltacht.

You can visit Fíbín’s website here (that’s the English language version).

Fran Reddy:  Hello, Darach.

The Wild Geese:  Fíbín is one of the hottest commodities in Irish performing arts at the moment, so we’re privileged to have Darach here with us for today’s chat.

Fíbín Teo:  Dia dhuit.

The Wild Geese:  We’ll now turn it over for the next little while to Darach. Welcome, Darach!

Fíbín Teo:  Hi, and thank you for the introduction. Tá áthas orm a bheith anseo!

The Wild Geese:  Who has our first question this evening?

Fran Reddy:  May I ask what Fibin Teo means?

Fíbín Teo:  Fíbín is the Irish word for 'explosion of joy and happiness'. Teo. is an abbreviation for Teoranta which just means limited as limited company.  We thought it was an appropriate name for a young people's theatre company!

Ryan O'Rourke:  Darach, I live just down the road from your HQ and I never knew the actual meaning of that word!  Mystery solved!

Fran Reddy:  Wonderful Darach :)

Fíbín Teo:  Are many of you aware of the style of our work?

The Wild Geese:  Yes, Darach, please tell us just briefly about what you do ... your specialties, etc.

Fíbín Teo:  We are a young people's theatre company based in the Irish-speaking area of Connemara but with a very European style of theatre.  We use alot of masks, puppets, visuals and the latest and most innovative technology to tell our stories.

Ryan O'Rourke:  Wonderfully quirky stuff, I can attest to that!

Fíbín Teo:  Although our work is primarily in the Irish language the work is for all

Fran Reddy:  So you do English shows as well?

Fíbín Teo:  In our 10 year history we have yet to produce an English language show, but have performing bilingually

The Wild Geese:  You've done shows in the U.S. on more than one occasion, correct, Darach?

Fíbín Teo:  We have travelled all over Europe, to Africa and to the US, most recently New York City

Richard R. Mc Gibbon Jr.:  Are any of your presentations available on CD?

Fíbín Teo:  Hi Richard, we have clips on YouTube but not on CD as theatre generally doesn't translate well to video, we find.

Mary Egan:  Have you a website where you publish a calendar of up coming events?

Fíbín Teo:  Hi Mary, yes we do, you can find all info at Fibin.com, or follow us on Twitter @FibinTeo.

The Wild Geese:  Here's a brief trailer for one of Fíbín's past productions:

Richard R. Mc Gibbon Jr.:  Will check it out on YouTube then, thanks.

Fíbín Teo:  We have also recently produced a site specific show in a quarry with the world's biggest projector, first time for Ireland, live music, acting, choir and live video-mapping.

Kelly O'Rourke:  Hi, Darach! Where in the world do you have shows lined up into the future? And how do people in other parts of the world react to the sound of the Irish language?

Fíbín Teo:  Hi Kelly, we have a new show about to tour at the end of May for young people but we will have another exciting show planned for the U.S. in September.

The Wild Geese:  Multiple locations on that U.S. tour Darach?

Fíbín Teo:  Not as yet, but New York City and Notre Dame University early 2015.

The Wild Geese:  Excellent! We have quite a few Notre Damers amongst our membership. Anyone here in the chatroom an alumnus?

Fíbín Teo:  We find the interest in the language in the US inspiring

Mary Egan:  So what is the nature of your presentations? Irish folklore? Ancient Ireland?

Fíbín Teo:  Mary, yes we and our various collaborators are often inspired by ancient folklore and stories however our aim to bring them into the present and place them in a very contemporary context.  We also produce contemporary shows based on Ireland today.

Ryan O'Rourke:  Went to the Fíbín production of "Setanta," a while ago in Galway, and that was quite impressive.

Fíbín Teo:  Thanks, Ryan.

Richard R. Mc Gibbon Jr.:  Do you use music within your play format and if so what style?

Fíbín Teo:  Richard, yes we use alot of music, our productions are a feast for the senses. The show we are bringing to NY is a contemporary-style rock musical for example.

Mary Egan:  You should consider San Francisco too. We’ve a boat load (no pun intended) of Irish decedents here.

Fíbín Teo:  We would love to go to San Francisco, we just need to get reviewed in the New York Times!  But seriously Mary we are trying to develop our reach in the US and New York is a first step.

Ryan O'Rourke:  Love the mix of old themes told in new ways and via modern / high-tech mediums. Really unique. I encourage everyone to check out the YouTube videos, and if you can arrange a tour stop in your own locale, do it. So cool to see the Irish language getting a "freshen up" in this way.

Fran Reddy:  Is Fibin unique in this sense in Ireland?

Fíbín Teo:  Yes we believe so. We are the largest employer of Irish language artists in the country.  And our style is quite unique due to our cultural background.

Ryan O'Rourke:  Cool! Didn't know that.

Thomas Besore:  As long as you're at Notre Dame ..... Chicago is just "down the road".

The Wild Geese:  Good point, Thomas.  Chicago is a HUGE Irish town.

Fíbín Teo:  Well Thomas, we will have to fly to Chicago on the way to Notre Dame!

The Wild Geese:  Make it happen, Thomas! :-)

Fran Reddy:  There are many Irish in Canada. Toronto might be a great stop as well.

Fíbín Teo:  If anyone has any contacts or requires any further information I would be delighted to forward it on

Thomas Besore:  That's a natural. We have a nice Irish-American Heritage Center just off the highway.... not far from the airport on your way toward South Bend, where Notre Dame is.

Fíbín Teo:  Thanks Thomas ... I will definitely be in touch.

Richard R. Mc Gibbon Jr.:  Anything in the Boston area? I am about 8 hours north (just a wee stretch of the legs) :-)

Ryan O'Rourke:  I think Fíbín would be a huge hit in a place like Chicago.  And Boston!

Fíbín Teo:  So do we!

Mary Egan:  I would love it if you went to Chicago. I'd go back to Chicago to see it, ( and my relatives too).

Fíbín Teo:  This is a promo of the show we are hoping to tour:

Fíbín Teo:  We recently brought a bilingual show to the Irish Consulate in NYC and the New York Library for the Performing Arts at the Lincoln Center called The Blind Seal, based a an Irish folkstory, told using live art and music.

The Wild Geese:  Yes, our own Gerry Regan was in attendance at that show in NYC, and he raved about it.

Thomas Besore:  Is there any audience participation involved in your shows?

Fíbín Teo:  We used to have alot of audience participation with our young audiences....that usually involved flour, water etc etc!!  But some people tire of this when they get older.  :-)

The Wild Geese:  Ha!

Ryan O'Rourke:  Your puppets and masks are among the most zany and creative I've seen. Who makes those, Darach? Multiple sources?

Fíbín Teo:  We are very fortunate in Galway as we have access to a vast skills base of creative people. We work with a small team usually.  We also work with a set painter that spent 10 years on Saturday Night Live in NYC and a grammy award musician, a Tony nominated musician etc etc.

Ryan O'Rourke:  Wow ... cool!

Fran Reddy:  Is Fibin used for teaching children at all?

Fíbín Teo:  We are not formal educators but we believe everyone learns something new consciously and subconsciously
We like to think we give all audiences a fresh perspective on the Irish language.

Ryan O'Rourke:  We've got a lot of folks around here who are big fans of the videos and other things coming out of Colaiste Lurgan literally just a stone's throw from your HQ, Darach. Tell us about your work with the teenagers who come to Connemara from all over Ireland to brush up on their Irish every summer.

Fíbín Teo:  We have produced shows for this audience many times over the years. Summer colleges usually try to teach Irish in a fun way...we add to that.  Last summer we had a group of Irish language students come visit us from Notre Dame University for a theatre workshop with the well-known director, Paul Mercier

Ryan O'Rourke:  Nice!  The Notre Dame connection is really budding.

Fíbín Teo:  We hope so, so far it's been a really enjoyable experience

The Wild Geese:  Okay, folks ... winding down ... any last questions for Darach?

Be sure to visit Fíbín's Twitter page, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.

Thomas Besore:  I'm already stalking (I mean following) on Twitter!

Fíbín Teo:  Thanks to everyone who joined me this evening. It's always a pleasure to talk to new people about Fíbín's work!

The Wild Geese:  We'll be looking forward to hearing more good things from Fíbín.

Fran Reddy:  Thanks, Darach.  :-)

Fíbín Teo:  Thanks, Ryan, and The Wild Geese also.

The Wild Geese:  Go raibh míle maith agat, a Darach!

Fíbín Teo:  Míle fáilte romhat, oíche mhaith;-)

The Wild Geese:  Oiche mhaith, gach duine.

Thomas Besore:  What they said.

Fran Reddy:  heehee

The Wild Geese:  :-)

Views: 251

Tags: Arts, Drama, Gaeilge, Visual Arts

Comment by Gerry Regan on April 29, 2014 at 10:32am

I'm a huge fan of Fibin Teo, ever since I had the joyful experience of taking in 'An Rón Dall' (The Blind Seal)at New York Irish Center last winter.

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