Endorsements and Evidence of Critical Acclaim

Photo Credit: Fiona Bawn Thompson in The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII

 

Women War and Peace Project Endorsement and Praise

 The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII Feedback

  • ‘The work Smashing Times are doing is so important. We need to hear more of these stories’ Laura Brady, audience member
  • ‘I’m amazed I never heard those stories before. It was so interesting, thank you for a wonderful performance’ Elaine Cronin, Audience member
  • ‘Such a moving piece of theatre. The performances were excellent’ Sabina Higgins, Áras an Uachtaráin First Lady.
  • ‘Thanks Freda and all the cast and crew of The Woman is Present! What a wonderful evening’ Mary Duffin, Audience member
  • ‘Saw ‘The Woman is Present’ last night, a call to the heart: Stop war and trumpet the heroism of women, missing from history’. Dr Eric Weitz, TCD
  • ‘It was just brilliant! The two actors were phenomenal. Well done to everyone involved!’ Niamh Clowry, Audience member
  • ‘Brilliant, moving, eye opening journey into stories of women’s bravery tonight. Well done to all involved’, Sarah Glennane, Audience Member

 

Women War and Peace Symposium Feedback

‘Superb! Way exceeded my expectations and is sending me away with lots of food for thought. Thank you so much.’

‘I feel so grateful to have been present for the discussions offered today – extremely inspiring Thank you.’

‘A transformational day. Only wish there was more time for discussion.’

‘Fantastically run. Thank you. For all those that instinctively react negatively when they hear “feminism” I think it’s important to take some of the ideas presented today to reach out and break that block’

‘Congratulations on a successful event. You had great engagement from everybody there’ Audrey Keane, Information and Advice Officer, Creative Europe Desk, The Arts Council

‘This was an amazing day I’m really proud to be associated with it’ Edyta Pietrza

‘I loved the performance. I had researched Neus and it was so moving to see her story brought to life’ Fernando Benavente, Instituto de Formacion Y Estudios Sociales

‘I realised that my aunt was caught up in the same violence in Valencia as Neus. They were there at the same time’ Fernando Benavente, Instituto de Formacion Y Estudios Sociales

‘The performances at the symposium were so moving they really brought the characters to life’ Arne Schrader, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universitaet

‘I attended the cross boarder peace discussion in the afternoon. Maureen Heatherington’s presentation on patriarchy really made me think’ William Caughley

‘That was a great day I was proud to be a part of it all’ Paul Kennedy

‘I found the event very inspiring. I will consider spending a day volunteering with the refugees and direct provision.’ Karen Ward

 

Acting for the Future Project Endorsement and Praise

As part of the work in 2013 Smashing Times presented Acting for the Future as part of Arklow Mental Health Week to a total of 171 students from four secondary school and the project was independently evaluated. Three sessions were held and consisted of a performance from Testimonies followed by a post-show discussion and the young people were invited to discuss the issues raised. The panel for the post performance question and answer session included the actor who performed the piece, a senior clinical psychologist, a counsellor and a Samaritan volunteer. The final evaluation stated that the project can be used as ‘’an example of “Best Practice”, in how it was organised and delivered.’’ It was stated that if every activity on mental health were hitting the same level as Acting for the Future then you would have a great week. Referring to the project and evaluation, Barbara Duffy, psychologist, Arklow Mental Health Week said that ‘’The overall feedback was that Smashing Times was the most positively evaluated of all events, deeming it as the example of Very Good Practice!’’

According to the evaluation:

 

‘The first point to note and one that is consistent throughout the questionnaire responses was the high value that students gave to this session/event in its entirety. . . Approximately 90 per cent of students rated the session/event as either Good or Very Good. . . which given the fact that this is a teenage target audience was quite an accomplishment. . . This final table presents quite another impressive set of responses with approximately 95 per cent of students stating that as a result of attending the session/event they would now know how/where to seek help. . . Overall these are an extremely satisfactory set of results from the point of an evaluation and based on these responses alone one can see that this can be used as an example of “Best Practice” in how it was organised and delivered.’

Independent Evaluator.

 

 

Audience Feedback:

‘Really made me think.’

‘The performer was deadly!’

‘This is the first time we’ve had something like this here. It was great.’

‘Serious things young people have to deal with.’

‘The actor was great – very emotional performance made it real.’

‘We’d love more stuff like this!’

‘I felt as if he was really speaking to me.’

‘Very important to think and talk about it.’

 

To date Acting for the Future’s performances and post-show discussions have been attended by third level students from Trinity College, Dublin, UCD, Maynooth University and Dublin Institute of Technology and by a range of second level schools throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland. Past events include being involved with the Dublin Samaritans for Suicide Awareness Week in the Axis Theatre, Ballymun, to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th 2010 and is performances for schools in Arklow each year as part of Arklow Youth Mental Health Week which was officially opened by Mr. John Maloney, former Minister for Mental Health and Disability.  In March 2010 Smashing Times were delighted to be asked by the Abbey Theatre to present an Acting for the Future workshop in conjunction with the Abbey Theatre’s production of Thomas Kilroy’s Christ Deliver us.  The workshop was attended by the director Wayne Jordan and the writer Thomas Kilroy who has stated that ‘Smashing Times is a wonderful endeavour’ and he wishes the company every success with future work.

‘It was the best workshop I have ever been to in my life. Thanks to you all there and the great work you do.’

Workshop Participant, Abbey Theatre, Dublin

‘I thought Smashing Times did a very good job. . . . the day left everyone with a lot of food for thought, and pushed everyone in ways that were very good. I’d definitely work with them again, and would encourage others to do so.’

Patrick Lonergan, for Abbey Theatre, Dublin

‘Smashing Times is a wonderful endeavour and I wish you well with all your future work’ Thomas Kilroy, Playwright

 

 

The following are quotes from performances and workshops:

 

“ I am still in shock at how quiet and attentive they (young men) were to the performance. Some members of the audience came today to play pool and I told them about the performance of Testimonies and they agreed to take a look. 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. They usually heckle people giving presentations. It was great to have the show here because suicide is such a prevalent issue in Ballyfermot, every young person in that audience has been affected by a death by suicide in the community, and to have the discussion afterwards with the panel members, I know it has helped them a lot. I was so surprised but so glad that they got so involved in asking questions and I know they have gotten a lot out of it. Presenting the show also brought young people in to the centre who would normally not come here, and as a result of the post show discussion I now know they want to be involved on a volunteer basis. It’s great. Please include us in future work plans. It is very impressive work! “

            Shane O’ Connor, Youth Worker, The Base, Ballyfermot, Dublin

 

“Having been involved with Smashing Times on their highly successful “’Acting for the Future’ I am still many years later in awe of Testimonies – the mini plays they wrote and perform again and again for Irish communities throughout our island. 12 real life stories are woven together to allow the viewer to not only see but also understand what goes in the mind of those contemplating suicide and those left in the aftermath. The actors depict these harrowing yet also hopeful plays that are a true testimony to those whose lives have been cut short and those who mourn still. I applaud the wisdom of amalgamating the research material into distinct and interwoven pieces. A young man tells of the last day of his best friend, a professional woman explains why she attempted suicide and an older mother comes to terms with her son’s death by his own hand. It is fascinating to watch the heartfelt reaction of the audience to each powerful piece. Yet again Smashing Times hit the target and create, educate and inspire so many . . . After each performance of Testimonies a panel of local experts are on hand to answer any questions that have arisen from the audience. In many ways this is the key point of the theatre pieces – an opportunity for people to speak out not just about what they have seen but often what they have witnessed in their families, among their friendships and in their communities. As one of a panel of Counselling Psychotherapists I have been privileged to have sat on many of these panels and am amazed by the insight and wisdom gained from their stories and the advice given by fellow panel members of local Samaritans and Counsellors and the actors themselves. In my 18-year career as a Counselling Psychotherapist the ability to respond to the audience’s questions, to ease their minds and give helpful tips on how to maintain a healthy mental state is humbling. Smashing Times and their magnificent work are to be applauded and funded generously. This is life saving work and needs to continue for the health of our people especially our youth.”

Karen Ward, Clinical Psychotherapist

 

‘’The performance was excellent and the young men could really relate to the content of the monologues. we want to say that we really appreciate the involvement of Smashing Times Theatre in our school and in particular and in particular with our transition years and we hope this work continues.

Secondary School Teacher

 

This work is excellent…we don’t do enough emotional training (in schools) and that is why drama is so important, particularly for young people in schools

Secondary School Principal

 

‘’The Department of Education, they should fund this show to go into every school in the country, it is excellent and extremely important.

Audience Member

  

Feedback from Young People and Adults on performances and workshops:

‘‘It was deeply moving and so touched me in a deeper way that helps connect with humanity and feelings of love’’

‘’It showed a more realistic situation and offered information on what to do’’

‘’I though that having the councillors they’re explaining their work and experience really helped our understanding’’

“Really made me think.”

“Serious things young people have to deal with.”

“The actor was great – very emotional performance made it real.”

“We’d love more stuff like this!”

“I felt as if he was really speaking to me.”

“Very important to think and talk about it.”

“The performer was deadly!”

“This is the first time we’ve had something like this here. It was great.”

‘I really enjoyed it and felt that it was very helpful to me…thanks for coming along and giving us this opportunity’

‘I had a lot of fun. Thank you and come back to visit us’

‘It was brilliant, I love it’

‘Loved it – excellent’

‘It was very fun and interesting. I enjoyed it and would take part again.’’

‘’I had a brill (sic) time and programmes like these should be brought into every school.’’

‘’I though it was great, it was a brilliant experience and will stay with me for life.”

‘’I think using drama to discuss important issues is a good idea because it has a greater impact when you see things happen than when you hear of something.’’

‘’Well done, it was excellent, very, very, moving.’’

“I felt that this workshop was excellent as it dealt with a serious issue in a positive and light way.”

‘’Thank you, I really enjoyed it.’’

‘’I thought the workshop was a great help to me.’’

‘’Thanks for the information about mental health and suicide prevention.’

“I like the idea of looking at serious issues in a creative way. Somehow that approach seems less intrusive.”

“I thought it was brilliant because we all had to work as a group and help each other.”

“I enjoyed it very much and I think it was really fun. There were so many activities that we have learned, how to concentrate and how to trust each other.”

“The techniques that were taught made me feel more confident about myself and made it easier for me to talk in front of a large crowd.”

“I thought the drama workshop was very good, I really enjoyed the trust exercises and I felt really relaxed and was really able to put all my trust in the other person.”

“I thought it was a great experience and I was glad to be part of it.”

 

General Comment

‘I’ve been thinking a lot about how incredibly great you and the Smashing Times team were – I really learned so much. Collaborating with people who were passionate about creating work that was engaging, and at the same time effecting positive change in their communities invigorated me,  I was excited and felt that I was taking part in something that was important and making a difference.’
Liliana Ashman, intern 2011 to 2013

 

The Irish Times

“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.”

 

Selected Reviews

 

Irish Times on Acting for the Future: http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/drama-festival-brings-positive-mental-health-to-dublin-stage-1.2521356

 

Irish Times on The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII:

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/the-dubliner-who-died-at-auschwitz-now-centre-stage-1.2776084

 

More Women, War and Peace in Irish Times:

 

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/margaret-skinnider-my-disappointment-at-not-going-back-to-bomb-the-shelbourne-hotel-1.2587147

 

Media Reviews for Testimonies

Colin Murphy, Village Magazine 17-23 November 2005

“The three actors have the gift of immediacy and authenticity and pull the audience in…credible and compelling…outstanding performances…crafted, nuanced, searing…raw power… the monologues (are) compelling… moving… this play should find an engaged and passionate audience for its sensitive storytelling.”

“Companies like Smashing Times… consistently produce work that is self-consciously political, work that seeks to provoke and engage debate about the way we organise society and our lives. They take a risk; the risk of being worthy, earnest and didactic; the risk of failing to resolve their chosen issues into a coherent and compelling drama; the risk of wearing their woolly liberal hearts on their sleeves, of being, fatally, uncool. In Testimonies, Smashing Times have courted those risks and survived. The three monologues that make up Testimonies each deal with suicide. What is amazing is they manage to do so without being maudlin, angst-ridden or sentimental…

These are the people left behind, not gifted with some knowledge or insight from beyond the grave as to what slowly and then finally drove their loved ones to kill themselves. The struggling to understand and labouring with guilt  is the most moving aspect of the piece”.

Gerry Colgan, The Irish Times, 21st November 2005

“Smashing Times Theatre Company has a deserved reputation for exploring social issues with sensitivity and in depth. This new work deals with the difficult aspect of suicide in three monologues based on interviews with people who lost loved ones to self- destruction… let me say first that the plays, directed by Ena May, are true theatre, reaching out and embracing their listeners. On that bedrock, the ensuing conversations were structured and meaningful…the exchanges were extraordinary. Individual members of the audience spoke with courage about their experiences and found sensitive and experienced listeners on the stage…this work points the way rather than draws maps. Smashing Times must continue with it.”

Jerome Reilly, Sunday Independent, 13th  November 2005

“A new play about suicide…has turned into an unexpected theatrical hit among young people… the biggest response to the play has been amongst young people… ‘ when we brought the play to schools we have been surprised by the awareness of the problem and the intelligence of the questions in the post-play discussions. It has really struck a chord’

 

Media Reviews for Shattering Glass

Derek West, Irish Theatre Magazine, 14th January 2011

“In Daniel, by Mary Moynihan, the mother who loses her son in an explosion relives in a first-person present-tense monologue the awfulness of one Saturday afternoon at the end of summer in a country town. Aoife Heery’s portrayal of Heather is subtle, sensitive and unremitting in its graphic catalogue of horror – “I realise my feet are sticky” – a dawning realisation of blood that leads to the body of her son.

In Crossings, in another tensely-acted monologue, Adam Traynor unpacks the past of Tom, a man whose acts of terror embroiled members of his community and his family. He is in enforced exile, a wanted man facing an impassive border; crossing it entails risk, draws out residual guilts and releases visceral hatreds. While writer Paul Kennedy attempts to blur that border with a fall of snow and to assuage the agony through the emergence of love, the dominant sense is of almost unbroken darkness.

In the centre-piece, The Glass Wall, (devised by Gillian Hackett and cast) a pair of lovers (Traynor and Heery) – one from each side of the religious divide – are pursued by the unrelenting demands of the past. The stage is populated with ghosts that clutch at each of them, pulling them backwards towards sectarian hatred and violence. There is a crude vigour about the emotions portrayed and the rhetoric comes with the sledge-hammer beat of unwavering rhetoric: “THIS-IS-NOT-OV-ER” (Paul Nolan, the third cast-member, in a concentrated portrait of bigotry and intimidation).

Mary Moynihan’s direction is both ascetic and intense: the staging is bleak, the lighting spartan; continuity between the pieces is provided by electrifying, throbbing music; the acting is disciplined and utterly concentrated. The horrors of the past have been partially humanised, but will not lie down.”

 

What the papers say:

The Irish Times

  • “The plays are true theatre…extraordinary, Smashing Times Theatre Company has a deserved reputation for exploring social issues with sensitivity and in depth… Smashing Times must continue with it.”
  •  “Fascinating, executed by the innovative and dynamic Smashing Times Theatre.”

The Sunday Independent

  • “Excellent…a depth of feeling and a coherence of mood that is both striking and rewarding.”

The Sunday Tribune 

  • Outstanding performances…crafted, nuanced, searing…compelling…this play should find an engaged and passionate audience for its sensitive storytelling…companies like Smashing Times…consistently produce work that is self-consciously political, work that seeks to provoke and engage debate about the way we organise society and our lives.’

Village Magazine

  • ‘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.’

 

Endorsement of Uprising, Scripted by Tara McKevitt, Devised by the Company

Uprising is a provocative and insightful new play from Smashing Times Theatre Company. It bristles with kinetic energy, while still presenting moments of personal tragic loss in the context of the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland and conflicts around the world. It fearlessly confronts us with questions about injustices  in our society, and engages the audience not only in an examination of the past, but also in a quest for a vision of the future.’
Paul Kennedy, Writer

“I found Smashing Times  Uprising to be uniquely innovative, moving, poignant and hopeful. This seminal work needs to be seen by many around the whole of the island of Ireland especially our young people. I salute the writer for her vision, the director for her bravery and the actors for their superb crafting of this vital piece of work for the times we live in.”
Karen Ward, Audience Member

“Brilliant performance last night at the Playhouse called  Uprising. Dublin based company used a fusion of text, dance and rap, exploring memories and experiences of war and peace in N.I and internationally. It was very well put together.  Our girls were able to see first hand the power of the arts, for us ‘dance’, it doesn’t have to solve the problems out there but it can provoke thought for change. This is exactly the kind of work we are doing with our youth group, we take an issue then use dance, music and technology to explore it and share with audiences far and wide, schools, communities etc.”
Irena Melly, I.D. Youth Dance Company

“The gang from M.A.D Youth Theatre loved it. They had so much to say about it on the bus back home.”
Kwasie Boyce, Youth Leader

“Myself and my fiancé and his sister and my brother went to see Uprising and were phenomenally impressed.  Myself and my brother are from the south of Ireland whereas my fiancé and his sister are from Belfast. The show was a very interesting depiction of the troubles in the north. The cast , though many were from the south, had obviously researched the troubles and perfected their northern accents!  They gave me a glimpse of what life must have been like living through the troubles.  We were especially impressed with the music and song choices during the show. The music helped to lighten the tension during intense scenes and lift the mood.  Overall we felt that both sides of the troubles were well represented with likeable characters on both sides.”
Rosemary Cullen, Audience Member

 

Endorsement of Testimonies by Paul Kennedy and Mary Moynihan

“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

 

What the Public Says

  • “The show was extremely powerful, congratulations to the actors and company.”
  • “The Department of Education should fund this show to go into every school in the country. It is excellent and extremely important.”
  • “This work is excellent…we don’t do enough emotional training (in schools) and that is why drama is so important, particularly for young people in schools.”
  • “This work is so powerful, I wish there was more of this.”
  • “What Smashing Times are contributing to theatre is cutting-edge work currently not being done by anybody else; no one is addressing themes in this way. Theatre can be multi-faceted and this is an input that is extremely important. This is serious, thought-provoking and provocative work that is really impressive and valid.”

 

 

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