Home Limerick People Capturing Limerick’s love for the Shannon through storytelling

Capturing Limerick’s love for the Shannon through storytelling

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One day, some years ago, I sat outside the Locke Bar waiting
for a friend to arrive. Sitting beside me was an old man with his dog. We
started to chat and over the course of the next two hours he told me stories of
old Limerick that I will never forget. That man has died since. My biggest
regret is that I never recorded him. He was a true raconteur that deserved to
have his life’s tale captured for all to cherish in the future. Storytelling,
and most importantly the capturing of oral history, is too often disregarded
until it is too late.
Helena Enright Photo: Courtesy John Garrett
Dr. Helena Enright is a Limerick-born theatre practitioner
who captures stories and memories recreating them into performance pieces.
Enright recently captured stories of the River Shannon told by Limerick-people.
These stories will be retold to Limerick audiences in a theatrical production
on board a 112-year old barge in the city during the month of August.
Enright is particularly interested in how the River Shannon
figures in the thoughts and conscience of Limerick people – do we actually use
the river?  The medium of testimonial theatre allows her to capture this
information and develop it into a play where every bit of text comes from
somebody else.
Enright spent months looking for a very specific type of
vessel for the River Shannon project. “I literally used every contact I had to
source something but to no avail”, she says. “I found myself with Jacinta Khan
one afternoon in the George Boutique Hotel. It was while discussing the project
that she informed me of a person she knew who was in process of bringing a
90-ft Dutch barge up the river”.
Ciarda Toibin directs ‘The River’. “One voice speaks all the
stories so it is important that an audience connect with and hears every
character”, she says. “Testimony is a very different style of theatre work –
you must trust the language. The stories Helena has gathered are fascinating
and my job is to make them rich using projections, sound, light, shadow
puppetry and some bits of magic that will lift the stories into a magical
place”.
Helena believes we have a huge opportunity to bring life
back on to our riverfront. “We really need to start embracing it more”, she
says. “Other cities have cafes, bars and walkways. The quayside in Exeter where
I spent a lot of time was full of antique shops, bars, pedestrian areas,
independent shops and furniture stores. It would be full of life during
weekends. I believe Limerick is getting to a place where we are talking about
the river as an amenity much more”.
Enright’s dream legacy for the project would be to make
people realise the potential of putting things back on the river. “I would love
to have a full time theatre space on the river. Speaking to people who told
their stories has sparked a whole stream of people who are now coming forward
to tell me their stories”, she adds.
The River Shannon will be performed daily except Tuesdays
from 13th August to 1st September 2014. For further details check out https://www.facebook.com/RiverShannonProject

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One Comment

  1. Sharon

    10th September 2014 at 8:52 pm

    I went to one of the showings of The River, it is was a wonderful homage to the river and the lives of those who interacted with her through the years. I believe there is going to be another performance as part of the Elemental festival, if you haven't already seen it, then go.

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