Part of Siamsa Tíre’s remit is to explore our traditional folk culture, delve deeper into what it means, and push the boundaries of what it represents in a modern Ireland and a globalised world.
That’s why we regularly collaborate with artists, performers, researchers, and other organisations on projects that examine the folk traditions of the past, what they stand for in the present, and how they might change and adapt in the future.
Keep the Faith, Keep the Folk
Keep the Faith, Keep the Folk is one such project.
This newly imagined site-specific, in-house production created in 2021 by Siamsa Tíre’s folk artists Anne O’Donnell and Joanne Barry will tour to Derry as part of the Echo Echo Dance Festival in 2022.
Its creators see it as an autobiographical exploration of the boundaries of contemporary folk theatre through their own relationship as artists, friends, and mothers.
They were inspired by the feeling of being at a ‘folk crossroads’. We’re living through tumultuous times. How should they as folk artists strive to be seen and heard? How could they embody the importance of our shared folk heritage?
Irish National Opera
Our ongoing work with Irish National Opera is another collaborative project.
Our plan in 2022 is to collaborate in commissioning a libretto telling of the story of Queen Scotia, a powerful woman of colour who travelled from the south to lay claim to and shape the future of these Celtic islands.
This work was begun in 2021, when Siamsa Tíre and Irish National Opera partnered to research and explore the relationships between the artistic practices of folk and opera. We asked some of Ireland’s most exciting artists this question:
What would a folk opera look and sound like here in Ireland, a country famed for its folk practices?
Guest artists Aoife Ní Bhriain, Naomi Louise O’Connell, Nick Roth, Francesco Turrisi, Mícheál Ó Dubhghaill, and Aoife Spillane Hinks spent an intensive week with some of Siamsa Tíre’s Associate Artists and National Folk Theatre core performers trying to come up with some answers.
While doing so, they were all drawn to the narrative of Scotia’s grave, which is allegedly located a short distance from Siamsa Tíre.
According to legend, the warrior Queen Scotia, daughter of Queen Nefertiti and Pharaoh Akhenaten, fled when invaders took Egypt and sailed to Scotland and then Ireland in the 4th century BC, conferring her name on Scotland and commencing the reign of the High Kings of Ireland.
To avenge the murder of her husband by the supernatural Tuatha de Dannann, the pregnant queen led her army into the battle of Sliabh Mish outside Tralee. She died in battle, but her army was victorious and drove the Tuatha de Dannann back forever into the Otherworld.
The stone of Scotia’s Grave in the glen above Tralee town is reputedly marked with both ancient Ogham and Egyptian hieroglyphics.
National partners will collaborate with us in developing this story of the culture of North Africa meeting Ireland’s earliest myths and legends. It’s going to be an epic tale of operatic proportions.