Dublin’s arts scene needs no introduction. Whether it’s your favourite live musician at a local pub or the Dublin Fringe Festival, talents are aplenty here. In recent years, various production companies have been established to showcase a refreshing pool of actors, directors, scriptwriters, songwriters and musicians and present a fresh voice in our dynamic arts scene. One of them is Co-MORBID Productions, a Dublin-based performance collective aimed at amplifying the voices of artists affected by disability or mental health issues. On 15 October 2019, Co-MORBID Productions had its Short Plays Festival, which was received by a full house.
Held at The International Comedy Club on Wicklow Street, the Short Plays Festival showcased 6 plays written and directed by local artists, many of whom are college students.
The first play was ‘Options’ written by Finn MacGinty O’Neill, a trans writer and director and Media student at Maynooth University and directed by Tadhg Ó Ciardha, an Irish Folklore and Drama student at University College Dublin. It was a chilling piece performed by two actors – of whom I was one – about a sinister and power-hungry trial director who tries to market a pill at the cost of her patients, trans individuals.
Following this was “Yellow”, written and performed by Jody O’Neill, a Wicklow-based actor who has worked on several projects including RTÉ’s Fair City. “Yellow” tells the story of a woman named Lizzie whose life undergoes a dramatic twist.
The third piece was “Altitude”, written and directed by Nathan Patterson, a local trans actor and baritenor with autism. “Altitude” is again a play performed by two actors and is about the unravelling of secrets and mysteries shrouding a sleepy mountain town.
Kate Conboy-Fischer’s “Caer” was presented next. Kate is a local playwright and performer and MA in Theatre in Practice graduate from University College Dublin. This play revolved around the life of a young woman – seemingly suffering from depression – who is frequented visited by a rather abusive male.
The fifth play in the line-up was “Mattress”, written by Ollie Bell, a Drama and Theatre graduate from Trinity College Dublin and co-founder of Trans Pride Dublin, who also directed the piece along with Tadhg Ó Ciardha. The play showcased the inner thoughts and retrospection of a non-binary person who recently met with a harrowing experience, along with the suppressive voices of society.
Finally, “We Are All Going to Die” was performed, closing the night with much exhilaration and thunderous applause. This piece was written by Aisling Walsh, a Sociology and Politics student at University College Dublin, and directed by Tadhg Ó Ciardha. This piece summed up a man’s astounding realisation about a crucial yet plain fact about life, presented in a humorous and enjoyable manner.
All the six pieces had a common thread to them – they touched on sensitive yet highly important issues such as LGBTQ+ rights and mental health conditions and gave an up-close-and-personal perspective into the lives of individuals who identify with such categories. The Short Plays Festival also kept minority representation at its crux, as most of the actors, directors and scriptwriters belonged to various minority groups such as LGBTQ+, people of colour, people with disabilities or mental health conditions, living up to Co-MORBID Production’s primary vision. As an actor on this production, I feel immensely grateful for the opportunity and to have been part of a line-up of such meaningful plays.
Dublin’s arts scene now has an additional feather to its cap – judging by the response to the Short Plays Festival, Co-MORBID Productions is expected to become an oft-heard-of name.
Mallika Venkatramani – Arts & Lifestyle Editor