By Paul Kennedy and Mary Moynihan
Directors: Ena May, Bairbre Ní Chaoimh, Mary Moynihan
Cast: Adam Traynor, Evelyn Shaw, Margaret Toomey, Gillian Hackett
‘True theatre… extraordinary.’ – Irish Times
‘Outstanding performances… crafted, nuanced, searing… compelling.’ – Village Magazine
Testimonies consists of five dramatic monologues adapted from the experiences of those who have lost loved ones to suicide and from the experiences of those who have been through a suicidal crisis and survived. Each performance is followed by a post-show discussion with a counsellor and invited guest speakers from the Samaritans, the Irish Association of Suicidology and other organisations. Audience members are invited to discuss the issues raised by the performances. Testimonies is presented as part of a project called Acting for the Future which uses participative drama workshops and a professional theatre performance to promote positive mental health and suicide prevention. It has been successfully touring nationally since 2005. The five monologues are as follows:
A Day Out by Paul Kennedy tells the story of two friends in their twenties and their last day together. It is directed by Bairbre Ní Chaoimh and performed by Adam Traynor.
In One Breath, written and directed by Mary Moynihan, is a portrait of a woman in the eye of the storm, battling mental illness and how she finds ways to cope. It is performed by Evelyn Shaw.
Is There Anything We Can Do? by Paul Kennedy is a dramatic performance where a mother fights the spectre of suicide hanging over her family. It is directed by Ena May and performed by Margaret Toomey. The mother visits a counsellor as she tries to find answers to her son’s death by suicide.
Do Not Go Gentle by Paul Kennedy (premiered at Project Arts Centre, Dublin, November 2014) is performed by Gillian Hackett and directed by Bairbre Ní Chaoimh. The frailty and resilience of a woman’s response to marital meltdown is portrayed as she confronts the absurdity of her life in the context of the economic downturn.
If You Could Read My Mind by Paul Kennedy and directed by Bairbre Ní Chaoimh tells the story of a young woman experiencing self-harm and what she can do as part of her recovery.
Success and Endorsements
- ‘The actors have the gift of immediacy and authenticity and pull the audience in… credible and compelling… outstanding performances… crafted, nuanced, searing… the monologues (are) compelling… moving… this play should find an engaged and passionate audience for its sensitive storytelling.’ – Village Magazine
- ‘Smashing Times Theatre Company has a deserved reputation for exploring social issues with sensitivity and in depth… the plays are true theatre, reaching out and embracing their listeners.’ – The Irish Times
- ‘An example of “Best Practice” in how it was organised and delivered.’ – Independent Evaluation, Arklow Mental Health Week
- ‘I always knew promotion of metal health was important but now I believe that it should be promoted even more and more workshops and performances like this should be available for everyone.’ – Student
- ‘I am still in shock at how quiet and attentive they (young men) were to the performance. . . They were told they could leave after the first monologue but they stayed and also asked questions in the post show discussion. I have never seen this group so attentive and quiet. Please include us in future work plans. It is very impressive work!’
– Shane O’ Connor, Youth Worker, The Base, Ballyfermot, Dublin
- ‘Smashing Times approaches a difficult subject with honesty, integrity and sensitivity. Testimonies pulls no punches about the devastating effect of suicide and offers a nonjudgmental insight into what brings people to consider it an option. The engaging monologues, though sad, are not depressing, but in a way life-affirming. This production and the discussion afterwards should be compulsory for all young people. It is Theatre-in-Education at its Best.’
Maeve Ingoldsby, Writer
- ‘Wonderful experience… great way for the kids to get a first time look at how drama and mental health issues combine… the kids talked about it for weeks afterwards.’
– Priscilla Nic Chonmara, Ballyfermot Youthreach