A fledgling lesbian drama group in Cork is exploring real experience for a new play about love and relationships, as Orla Egan reports.
Before she started the Linc Drama Group in April 2013, former robotics engineer, Sonya Mathews, was already a well-known actor, director and drama teacher. She founded the group because she wanted to give women in the lesbian community a forum to express themselves, learn new skills, and improve confidence and self-esteem.
“When I began this group I thought I would be the one teaching them but I have learned so much from these incredible, talented women,” she says. “I have never met such a dedicated group of artists in my professional career. They are natural actors, comedians and writers. It is an honour to work with these women.”
The Linc Drama Group is a made up of a mixed bunch, with different ages, experiences and nationalities. Some have been part of the lesbian community in Cork for decades, while others have recently moved to Cork or are engaging with the community for the first time. Some have drama training and experience, while others are new to it all.
Alice is a graduate of the London drama school, East 15. She wanted to find a drama group that would allow her to express herself within an ensemble. Pauline was encouraged by a friend to join the group, while Rudie joined because she “wanted to do something different, something to do with creativity. The drama group provides a space for discussion and is a great deal of fun.”
Kate also joined as a creative outlet. “I am passionate about performing arts and was desperate to get involved,” she says. “I enjoy the relaxed social environment of the group. Nobody has any ego; every one is given a voice and a chance.”
Having spent some time working drama techniques the group began to read plays with an eye to putting on a performance. However none of these plays had resonance with the group and they decided that they wanted to write their own play, which would reflect the issues and experiences they felt were important to them as lesbian and bisexual women living in Cork.
The process of writing the play has been as important for everyone as the end product. There were hours of discussions and debates about different experiences and these have then become woven into the play that emerged.
For Alice the process of writing the play has been fascinating. “It was organic in a way that it came together as we were telling our own stories, molding them together to create this original love story that we can all relate to.” Alice also loved how at some rehearsals everyone would just get on their feet, improvise, while others we would sit down and tell painful or funny anecdotes, and write down scenes.
Drama group newcomer, Barbara found the writing of a new play an extra bouns. “It gave me confidence in my ability to write,” she says. “Plus it was really interesting to see how everyone’s ideas could mesh together so well when everyone was so interested and motivated.”
As fellow group member, Sonya puts it: “We wrote as a group and the participants even got homework! So each participant has written at least one scene on their own, and others as a group.”
The play that emerged is basically a love story between two women, spanning four decades. It play begins with Sara (in her early 60s) standing alone, just after scattering her life partner’s ashes. She begins reflecting on their life together and the love they shared. Her memories and life appear before the audience in the form of her younger self and people who touched her life. Her story evolves from coming out to family and friends, to finally meeting the girl of her dreams. Clarissa is the young woman who steals her heart and changes her life forever. Although there is heartache in this story, as there is in life, there are plenty of laughs too, in the form of an ex girlfriend and two best friends.
For Alice the play is relevant to current lesbian and gay debates. “The story is about an ordinary love that bound two women forever,” she says. “It has a current setting, and even though it is a lesbian love story, everybody can relate to it. Love, with a big L, does not have a gender, colour, or sexual orientation. It is instead a powerful, universal human feeling.”
Ordinary Love is at The CAT Club, Cork on March 19 and 20. Tickets €10 can be bought here, on the door at the show, or from (021) 4505624
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