Written by former Choreographer and current Leading Player Sinead Mc Crohan
My experience with DCU Drama can be compared to one of those mini Twister ice-pops; disappointingly short, incredibly sweet, and a flavourful experience that you simply can’t forget.
It all began one December evening in 2018, when I arrived home from my third year internship feeling a little agitated. I remember my mam asking what was wrong, “did the canteen put raisins in the falafel again!?” “No”, I laughed, “It’s not that mam”.
“I just feel like I need a project to work on”.
At the time,I was rehearsing two evenings a week for a pantomime with Baldoyle Musical Society. I was a dancer in the chorus. I absolutely love dancing, and was enjoying performing during rehearsals. However, I felt as though I wasn’t being challenged creatively; I was learning set choreography and set harmonies, and didn’t need to engage the right hemisphere of my brain. This was leaving me particularly frustrated, especially since I had just finished choreographing for the children’s chorus of the pantomime and had choreographed a variety show and a flash mob not too long before. As you may have guessed, I don’t cope well when I don’t have a project to work on.
I resorted to scrolling on my phone, because that’s what my generation do when we don’t know where else to go. I don’t know if this next bit is fate, magic, luck, or just plain coincidence, but I came across an advertisement for a choreographer position.
“DCU Drama are looking for a choreographer for their 2019 Musical Theatre Intervarsity piece, “Hadestown”.”
Hades-wha? Never heard of her. But regardless, my eyes lit up. DCU Drama could be perfect for me! I registered with the society every year but used to watch their adventures from the side-lines; too afraid to leave what I knew in Baldoyle, and too ignorant to realise the opportunities that could come from getting involved. Putting all these worries aside, I filled in the application form straight away. Within a couple of weeks, I was interviewing for the role in front of three VIPs: Niamh Mary Martin (Director), Michael Long (Musical Director) and Kate Gurren (Producer). I remember bringing a notebook where I had scribbled down some themes I wanted to get across in the dances, along with some formation plans I had in mind. It was a really nice chat with the production team, and I left hoping I did enough to get the job. Evidently, I did!
We started rehearsals in February and the whole experience was an absolute whirlwind, right up to the day we arrived in Galway for the competition. I’ve never bonded as much with a cast in my entire life; I believe we had something inimitable there. The atmosphere was electric at every rehearsal, which made it an incredible space to work in. I fed off their energy and they fed off mine, and we created a force so strong that people would literally have to ask us to shut up about it, because we couldn’t stop talking about the impact it was going to have on everyone. We put our hearts and souls into the production!
We went to Galway on 29th March to compete at the All-Ireland Musical Theatre Intervarsities. This is a massive event where partaking colleges in Ireland compete with 20-minute musical theatre pieces. We were one of eight colleges competing. The entire weekend is jam-packed with workshops, bonding events, open mics and lots of food, before the actual competition on Saturday evening. I feel like competition is too strong a word though. For me, it was such a wholesome atmosphere where we cheered each other on, with not one bit of cut throat behaviour…although some of our props did go missing, but that story is for another time.
Hadestown smashed expectations.
We didn’t win inters. We didn’t come second. Or even third. But our performance impacted people, both inside and outside of DCU Drama and that is a win in my books! I’ll never forget the people I met or the incredible memories I made throughout those few months.
So naturally, when auditions came around a year later for DCU Drama’s Semester 2 productions, I had my eye on one in particular…
The story of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon; the dynamic duo who we have to thank for shows such as Sweet Charity, Cabaret, Pippin and Chicago! This inters piece is unique in that it’s been adapted from a TV show, not a pre-existing musical. The tables have turned for me this year as I’m not the choreographer anymore; I’m playing the part of Leading Player (who normally appears in Pippin). Without spoiling too much, this piece conveys the rise and fall of one of Broadways most famous partnerships. I can’t wait to get back to Galway to perform this piece!
Sadly, my journey with DCU Drama will come to an end after Inters 2020. I’ll have come full circle; starting off building a show like Hadestown in 2019, and finishing with a performance on stage this year. As I mentioned earlier, my time with Drama feels painfully short. However, I have nothing but fond memories of my time with this group. Its people, support, and focus on inclusion will forevermore be a massive part of my life.
Thank you DCU Drama for allowing me to find my true self, my true friends and my true passion.