Fishamble: The New Play Company was in New York, presenting Pat Kinevane’s first solo play, Forgotten, when Pat came to us with an idea for a new play. He wanted to write about homelessness and mental health, and the silence that often surrounds these issues. I knew that his passion for the subject matter, and his anger at how people who need help can often be ignored, would drive Silent. I also knew that Pat’s wicked sense of humour and highly theatrical imagination would ensure that the play did not become too serious or worthy. Throughout rehearsals and performances, we have tried to create a piece of theatre that engages very directly with the audience, is challenging and provocative, funny and moving, physical and inventive.
Silent tells the story of Tino McGoldrig, a man from the small Irish town of Cobh but living in Dublin, who is called after Rudolph Valentino (‘Rudolph would have been a disaster in Cobh’). He is a homeless man who shares his story with passersby, describes the footwear of the pedestrians, and dances with a blanket representing his wife, fondly remembering their ballroom-dancing championships.
Silent is published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, in an edition with Forgotten, and Pat’s most recent solo play, Underneath, is also published separately by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. I was watching audiences buying copies of the play recently, and asking Pat to sign them, and it reminded me of a time early in rehearsals, when we laid all the pages of the script on the floor and rearranged their order in the play, as we explored various possibilities for the sequence of events, which now make up this very impressive published version!
Just as Tino is called after Valentino, his brother Pearse is called after the Irish freedom fighter Padraic Pearse. Tino quips that they should have been named the other way around, as Pearse looked so like the Latin Lover. This resemblance between Pearse and Valentino prompts Tino to view key moments in his brother’s life as silent movies, which he enacts. So the title of the play is not just about opening up a discussion of taboo subjects. It also refers to silent movies, as well as Tino’s search for peace and quiet in his life.
Fishamble has toured Silent internationally since 2011, and we are very grateful for the success it is having and the awards it has won, including Fringe First, Herald Angel, and Argus Angel awards at the Edinburgh and Brighton festivals. Nina Steiger and Joe Murphy from the Soho Theatre saw it on its travels and invited it to the Soho. Fishamble has had great success touring previous productions to the Tricycle in London, and we are delighted that this will be our first time at the Soho Theatre. We are thrilled that the production will have its London premiere at the beautiful Soho from 7 – 25 July, with support from Culture Ireland and in association with Georganne Aldrich Heller. We hope very much that London audiences will enjoy their encounters with Tino McGoldrig.
Jim Culleton, Fishamble: The New Play Company, June 2015