Mini Theatre With Big Ambitions

Pick 'n' Mix Festival comes to the MAC on June 9 and 10. Tinderbox's Kerry Woods and Prime Cut's Emma Jordan can't wait

Tinderbox's general manager Kerry Woods on Graveyard Shifts, pop-ups and excellent coffee.

What does Pick 'n' Mix mean to your company?

Tinderbox has been involved with Pick ‘n’ Mix since its inception, and now forms a vital part of our programming. It is a great opportunity to try out the work of new, emerging writers. We feel it is very important that so many established and emerging companies, artists and practitioners can get together to see each others’ work.

Did you take part in the off-site Pick 'n' Mix last year?

Yes, Tinderbox participated in Pop Up Pick ‘n’ Mix at the Brian Friel Theatre last year. The festival ran really well in this venue and was a great success. There was a lot of really impressive work from new theatre and dance companies as well as from the more established companies. The atmosphere was fantastic as people pulled together to make sure the festival could happen.

What are some of the most memorable moments in past festivals?

For me, how the excitement of the first festival culminated in a sell-out performance of Red Lemon’s Jack’s Last Puff at 9.15pm on a Sunday night. I also love the buzz that goes around the festival every year about shows that people have really enjoyed. Especially when it is about companies that not too many people have seen before. Last year Sheelin’s show Homebird sold out really quickly on word of mouth.

What is your performance this year? Why is it right for Pick 'n' Mix?

Graveyard Shift by Noel McCann. Noel is an emerging playwright who we have worked with for a couple of years. Pick ‘n’ Mix is an excellent platform for us to show his latest play as well as allowing us to use young actors who are also emerging on the theatre scene.

Other than your own performance, what are some of the plays you looking forwards to seeing?

There are too many to mention! With so many exciting productions to chose from we will be trying to fit as many in as possible.

What do you think of the new MAC? Is your performance taking advantage of the new space?

The new MAC is just incredible. We are frequent visitors to the building already – be it for seeing shows, looking at the exhibitions, meetings with MAC staff or just to have our staff team meetings while enjoying the excellent coffee and snacks in the Canteen. Graveyard Shift will be performed Upstairs at the MAC and we are very excited to be performing there for the first time.

Book tickets for Graveyard Shift on the MAC's website.

Prime Cut's artistic director Emma Jordan remembers how Pick 'n' Mix got started and looks forward to this year's eclectic range of performances.

What does Pick 'n' Mix mean to your company? Do you think it is important?

I think that Pick 'n' Mix is one of the most important cultural events in the yearly calendar. It is so important to have a formal platform for the development of work and artists – and crucial that emerging artists have the opportunity to shine.I really enjoy it as it gives me an opportunity to see other artists work and because it's so condensed it allows you to feel the pulse of the collective artistic impulse of the city.

What are some of the most memorable moments from Pick n' Mix past?

The first year of Pick 'n' Mix was pretty special. It was an exercise in collective vision and we were all delighted that it had worked so well. In terms of work I think that Ponydance is a really good example of how effective a platform Pick 'n' Mix is for artists trying to break through. They took the festival by storm and have gone from strength to strength ever since.

What is your performance this year? Why is it right for Pick 'n' Mix?

This year we are presenting two new works which will be directed by Prime Cut's Artistic Associates Owen McCafferty and Louise Lowe. The two pieces are completely different. The first is a reading of new play Groundwater and Pilgrim by the brilliant Declan Feenan.

Since we couldn't let this year pass with commission a work that reflected on the remarkable new MAC, award-winning director Louise Lowe has created a performance installation called As If For The First Time that deals with on the history of the site the MAC is built on.

I really think that this festival is a great opportunity for experimentation. For me it's about risk taking and development and that's why we have programmed these two pieces. They are not an end result but a journey and the audience will influence that pathway.  

Other than your own performance, what are some of the plays you looking forwards to seeing?

I am really excited by the program this year. It's a really eclectic mix of companies and style. I am really looking forward to Fahy Production's The Wall and The Man Who from Chatterbox Productions. I think they are hugely talented new companies who have a great future ahead of them.

Shannon Yee's new work sounds fascinating and I really want to see Medea a Celtic Myth. We don't see enough of the classic repertoire so this is a great opportunity to see it re-imagined in the hands of the great Green Room Productions. Of course Tinderbox and Big Telly's work are a must see, and so are Accidental Theatre. There is so much to choose from.

What do you think of the new MAC? Is your performance taking advantage of the new space?

I think the new building is a real achievement and presents an enormous opportunity for artists in Northern Ireland. Prime Cut moved into the building a month ago and it's a fantastic building to work in – I think it's a beautiful playful building that is truly egalitarian.

It is such a pleasure to see so many people use it all day every day. Louise Lowe's installation will be in the Upper Gallery and I think that it will illustrate how interesting spaces can stimulate really interesting art. It is a conversation between past and present framed by the windows looking out on our city.

Book tickets to see Prime Cut's As If For the First Time and Groundwater and Pilgrim along with other Pick 'n' Mix performances at the MAC website.