Where We Live: An exploration of living in Dublin

by Mark O'Brien
Where We Live

A two-week programme of theatre productions, work-in progress showings, music events and live art is coming to The Complex in Smithfield as part of the upcoming St Patrick’s Festival.

Where We Live is a kaleidoscope of stories about what it feels like to live in Dublin and Ireland today, told by some of the best storytellers on the island.

It investigates ideas around money, housing, migration, gender, community, the city and sex.

Jenny Jennings and Phillip McMahon, co-directors of event organisers THISISPOPBABY, said: “Where We Live aims to challenge the prevailing narratives fed to us by the media, the Government and increasingly, the algorithms and echo chambers of social media.

“We’re creating a kind of ‘town hall’, where discussion should be heated, performance will be red-hot, and where opposing views are encouraged.

“We want to tell funny, devastating, exhilarating and joyous stories that imagine and re-imagine what our city and country could be.”

Plays from Oonagh Murphy, Tara Flynn, Peter Daly (above) and Veronica Dyas, an immersive exhibition from Eamonn Doyle, Niall Sweeney and David Donohoe and a one-off concert from The High Hopes Community Choir are just some of the events to look forward to during this creative fortnight.

The consequences of the financial crash of 2008 are a theme that features in several works.

Veronica Dyas’ play, Here & Now (I live here now), tells the story of how ridding herself of her possessions has made her a happier person.

In November 2011, Veronica travelled to the Camino de Santiago – a trip that she said changed her life.

When she returned, she came back to a house that was €100,000 in negative equity with mortgage arrears.

One year to the day later, she handed her keys to an estate agent and become an unlikely and nomadic landlord, living with friends and family and slowly shedding herself all but the most basic of possessions – something she called Project Downsize.

She tells Dublin Gazette: “When I came back I was just surrounded by all this stuff and what I realised was that I’d bought the house out of fear.

“I’d bought the house out of shame because people were saying ‘You have to get on the property ladder, you’ll never get a house if you don’t buy now’, all that kind of stuff.”

After renting out her house, Veronica continued to get rid of what she viewed as unnecessary possessions.

“I started giving away my clothes. I gave all the stuff from the house to St Vincent de Paul, to charity shops, to Oxfam. I gifted specific books to specific people.”

With the house currently up for sale, Veronica said that, once she pays the bank what she owes she may only have enough to “maybe buy a van to live in” and says that Here & Now aims to highlight the social policies that have impacted on generations of Irish people.

Actor and chartered accountant Peter Daly’s play, Money, tries to get to grips with what actually happened on the path to, and beyond, that fateful day in 2008 when the country was plunged into recession.

The play also has an autobiographical element, with Peter unafraid to reveal some of his own financial missteps.

He says: “It’s me as me, talking about money and and talking about the wider Irish economy but also my own relationship with money.”

Money also explores deeper themes, asking whether success equates to monetary wealth or something deeper.

“I try and cover how crazy we went during the boom and then the bubble and then the bust.

“I look into what was driving us and how could we be so blind to what was almost an inevitable collapse that was coming down the line, and most of the reasons were that there was huge money to be made.

“And where there’s huge money to be made, people will take big risks and when people take risks, the money gets bigger and when the money gets bigger, even more people pile in.”

We Live Here runs from March 6-18, with tickets for Where We Live events on sale now from www.thisispopbaby.com.

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