Monday 16 September 2019

‘We want a Pride flag in every club’ - GAA plays taking centre stage at Dublin Fringe Festival

Vickey Curtis and Aine O’Hara’s GAA MAAD! premieres at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre from Sep 7 - 21 as part of Dublin Fringe 2019
Vickey Curtis and Aine O’Hara’s GAA MAAD! premieres at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre from Sep 7 - 21 as part of Dublin Fringe 2019
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Vickey Curtis’s love of the GAA began on the side-lines.

She was working as a production runner on RTE’s The Sunday Game when her obsession was ignited.

“I fell in love with it. Hurling is fiery, feisty, and fast. It’s the embodiment of Ireland,” she said. "It's the parochial on a national level.

“There was no lineage or heritage of it in my family but it was so fierce and tense that I became engrossed with all aspects of it.”

However as an out, queer woman, it was a world Vickey felt slightly removed from.

“There was some isolation – I would be going to matches on my own and I think people were looking at me thinking ‘what are you doing here?’”

Along with artist and Mayo fan Aine O’Hara, Vickey has now written performance piece GAA MAAD for the Dublin Fringe Festival that traces the history of the GAA, Dublin and Mayo's intense rivalry, and explores what it feels like to be a queer GAA fan.

“It’s about being an outsider. I spoke to gay people in the GAA none of who were willing to talk on the record. GAA is pride, so we would like to see a Pride flag in every club that might be blue sky thinking but it's important to open it up,” she said.

"People in theatre don't tend to be that into GAA [but] there are a lot of parallels. Croke Park is the biggest stage in the country and All-Ireland is the most dramatic event you can watch."

The GAA has become the focus of other plays. At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Spliced discussed the levels of toxic masculinity in hurling.

The show was written by Timmy Creed who claims that negative male behaviour was drilled into players from a young age.

Back at the Dublin Fringe Festival, another production explores the impact playing at a professional level has on sports people’s psychology.

Set in a Croke Park dressing room, 'Grounds for Concern' is a one-man show based on anonymous interviews with GAA stars discussing mental health.

Written by Alan Bradley, the piece challenges the audience to consider how we as a community can engage with and support the young men of this country in a more positive way.

Vickey Curtis and Aine O’Hara’s GAA MAAD! premieres at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre from Sep 7 - 21 as part of Dublin Fringe 2019

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