Body & Soul Announce the Premiere of a New
Premieres online 8pm, Saturday, 13th February 2021
The team behind Ireland’s most celebrated boutique festival, Body & Soul, are premiering a brand-new multi-disciplinary project, titled ‘Éiru’s Threshold’, created entirely during the Stage 5 Lockdown.
Featuring an outstanding cast of renowned Irish female talent, from the worlds of theatre, dance, film, literature, fashion design, and music, the project interprets the past in response to the current global pandemic.
The piece was originally conceived during a site visit at Ballinlough Castle, Co. Westmeath, when Body & Soul founder, Avril Stanley, invited Creative Director, Mary Hickson, to collaborate. Taking some inspiration from the magical playground that is the land that surrounds the 17th Century country house, they were both keen to lean into the spirit of Celtic female energy, and use the piece to amplify the space between things – the threshold.
‘Éiru’s Threshold’ will be presented as a film, premiering live at 8pm, on Saturday, 13th February, on the Body & Soul website.
“Everyone involved had a yearning to create,” commented Avril Stanley.
“So many great, talented people came from all corners of Ireland to make sense of this time together. This film features so much Irish creativity; from bespoke fashion to new musical compositions, and spoken word poetry. It’s incredible to think that all of this happened during our strictest lockdown.”
The film features a re-interpretation of Henry Purcell’s aria, Dido’s Lament, which is considered, in classical music, one of the most heart-wrenching portrayals of the passing into death.
‘Ériu’s Threshold‘, however, re-imagines this aria through the Irish mythological goddess, Ériu. The lament was selected as one of the most powerful and timeless expressions of death and loss. It appeals to us to ‘Remember’, to remember people, remember where we come from, who we are…
“This pandemic life feels like a place of reflection and pause, a time where things become blurred and insecure. Now, more than ever, we need to connect and reconnect with what is real and important,” says Creative Director, Mary Hickson.
Through Ériu’s Threshold, Mary and Avril wanted to declare with certainty the idea that we need to fall to be raised, to crumble to be rebuilt, to die to be reborn – essentially to give a sense of hope for these trying times.
“To die and have the courage to be reborn is a potent message of the obligation we have, both personally and as a society, to allow for transformation.”
Hickson’s vision is being presented through the inimitable lens of award-winning film director, Mia Mullarkey, and features a diverse cast of artists, including voiceover from the Tony-Award winning actress, Marie Mullen, and costumes by textile designer, Katie Hanlan.
Choreographer and lead dancer, Robyn Byrne, was invited to embody the spirit of Ériu, which is portrayed throughout humanity, in nature, culture, and in the divine. Robyn also choreographs a team of 6 dancers, who bring the piece to its cathartic climax.
Doireann Ní Ghriofa was invited to create two poems, to encapsulate the cyclical nature of birth and death, which honour the poignancy of the power of chant in ritual.
The search for the right voice to sing the aria inspired many discussions around the female spirit versus the feminine energy.
Traditionally sung by sopranos, the team decided instead to call upon the unique vocal power of Eoin French (Talos) to provide a more fragile and vulnerable rendition of a male’s voice – in an effort to dispel the notion of male versus female, but instead to look at how they hold and support each other.
Eoin is accompanied by musicians, Elaine Howley (The Altered Hours), and Kate Ellis (Crash Ensemble), and the track is co-produced with Ross Dowling.
Director Mia Mullarkey says:
“It was a great pleasure directing the film ‘Ériu’s Threshold’ with this group of talented artists. The natural landscape and beautiful winter light inspired much of the imagery, along with many rich discussions on the meaning of death and rebirth. Robyn’s performance, Doireann’s poetry, Eoin’s singing, all carry us from grief to catharsis, in a powerful culmination of Irish voices.
‘Éiru’s Threshold’ will screen live at 8pm on Saturday, 13th February, on the Body & Soul website. Admission is free, however, advance sign-up is required.
This project has been part-funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht Sport and Media from the Live Performance Support Scheme