Sole Flower, Spidered Soul – a play by emerging playwright Féilim James

Soul Flower, Spidered Soul was presented from 11-15 June in The New Theatre, Dublin, as a co-production between Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality and The New Theatre.

Lucia Joyce and her father James are roused from death by an eloquent clown. The duo’s joyful reunion soon gives way told quarrels, as they debate the reasons why Lucia spent nearly half a century in psychiatric hospitals. Clown, who holds the power to alter the past, presents James with a dilemma.

Will he erase his own literary legacy to afford Lucia a second chance in life, or will he keep things as they were?

This funny and moving play pits personal ambition against love of family, all the while challenging prevailing notions about its protagonists: Lucia as the mad daughter, and James as the genius father who did all he could to save her.

Back Row L-R: Two staff members at The New Theatre, Féilim James, Patrick Byrnes, Fiona Bawn-Thompson, Daniel Mahon, Mary Moynihan, Carmen Ortiz. Front Row: Michael McCabe

Written by Féilim James, an emerging Irish playwright, the performances starred Fiona Bawn-Thompson as Lucia Joyce, Daniel Mahon as James Joyce, and Michael McCabe as the Clown. The production was co-produced by Smashing Times and The New Theatre as an opportunity for emerging artists Feilim and Daniel to work alongside mid-career artists such as Michael, Fiona, and director Patrick Byrnes. For the first time in his career, Feilim’s script incorporated video and dance elements, created by Scott Robinson, an emerging digital artist, and John Scott, an established dancer and choreographer, respectively.

On the development of the script, Féilim said, “I was drawn to this relationship for a number of reasons. James Joyce has been a major influence on me as a writer – perhaps even the biggest – so I already had a useful grasp on his life and work. Lucia’s story, on the other hand, fascinated me due to its mystery, its tragedy and pathos. It kind of serves as a dark, sinister counterpoint to the heady success of her father’s career.

The juxtaposition of their respective fates is interesting too as James is someone who transcended difficult circumstances to achieve so much, while Lucia, whose formative years were also marked by hardship, seemed destined for greatness too, until it all prematurely crumbled, in one of the most catastrophic and heart-wrenching ways possible. And, of course, there’s the extremely close and complex relationship between father and daughter, one charged with deep affection, jealousy, possessiveness, and even competition.

Lastly, through the prism of the play’s setting in the afterlife, I hoped to offer Lucia the chance to express the emotional impact of all she had been through, of all she had been subjected to, to give her a chance to be said, however fictional that saying may be. I also wanted to hold James accountable for whatever role he may have played in his daughter’s mistreatment, but also to hear his defence.”

This performance was presented as part of Theatre in Palm’s Theatre Roadshow.

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