'The webs get deeper and more complex, the more time you spend overseas. It creates these snowballing opportunities. I could never have imagined that we'd be making work for the Limerick City of Culture before this project,' says Tim Stitz, Creative Director at Chamber Made Opera.
A chance encounter at Bristol's In Between Times Festival forged a bond between Stitz and Jo Mangan, the future International Programmer for the Limerick City of Culture. With an influx of funding from the the Irish Government, socio-economically challenged Limerick became an arts hub for a year, with a host of overseas organisations invited to make work in the city. Chamber Made Opera, in collaboration with Irish creative talent, were invited to produce Wake.
Wake began with a provocation from Jo Mangan's office; to produce a site-specific work that responded to the 'Curse of St Munchin', which says that strangers will have all the good luck in Limerick while locals suffer the bad. To develop the idea, director Maeve Stone (a Limerick native) was recruited from Dublin's Pan Pan Theatre and flown to Australia, where she worked intensively with composer John Rogers for several weeks. Stitz and some of Chamber Made's creative associates then travelled to Ireland, reconnecting with Maeve to bring the work to life.
'Artistically, the fact that we got to know Maeve in a long-term way was wonderful. She got to know our entire team when she was in Melbourne and conversely, she introduced us to a really formidable team of very talented Irish artists,' says Stitz. 'There was great energy in that group. They've come out of a very dire financial situation after the GFC, but artistically it was very rich. They were incredibly hungry and up for it; they wanted to make things happen. That really buoyed us, as a reasonably established team.'
Chamber Made was auspiced by Pan Pan Theatre in Dublin, establishing new relationships with Pan Pan's General Manager and Artistic Director. Stitz also cemented his relationship with Jo Mangan during the production, creating an advocate for Chamber Made Opera in the region. 'There was great earned income from this show and it bolstered our reputation at home, but the professional connections we made are invaluable,' says Stitz. 'I can call Jo now and ask her, what's this festival like? I want to have a tilt at the Dublin Theatre Festival, what's your advice? I'd like to set up a tour for this work in the UK or Ireland, what do you think?' I think she would be generous in her advice and support, and in sharing networks.'