I was born and bred in Dublin, and went to Trinity. I studied drama and German, which at the time was kind of strange -- everyone was always saying: "Wow, what a strange combination." It was, for me, an obvious choice to go to Berlin in 1994 -- which was before I finished college. I was supposed to be doing an exchange, but it didn't really work out, so I took a year off. I started working at the Schaubühne theatre, which was my mecca. I found it really hard to come back and finish college, and I could have let it all go, but I did -- I came back, finished college and went straight back to Berlin.
I was a freelance assistant director and had a position at the Schaubühne. At the same time, Thomas Ostermeier and people like that started the Baracke theatre. The Schaubühne was in kind of a bad place. That generation of theatre got a bit staid, and there was a feeling of 'what's happening next?' It had been in power a long time, and unlike Ireland -- where generations mix more; where you'll get young directors working with older actors, and the younger actors learn from the older ones -- in Germany there seems to be more of a trend of overthrowing, and in comes a whole new guard.
The Baracke aligned itself with the Royal Court in London, because there was so much new, young drama being made in Britain, and there was nothing like that in Germany.
One of the first plays Ostermeier was doing was Knives in Hens; I indirectly knew the playwright David Harrower, and he asked me to read the translation and see what I thought, and it was pretty dire ... so I went to Ostermeier and said: "I think I need to help."
This started my working relationship with other directors as well, and I worked on Conor McPherson's plays, and Vincent Woods', and Enda Walsh's. Disco Pigs played in Germany for about five years, with these actors who were getting older and older.
I came back to Ireland in 2002. I've wanted the freedom to do an adaptation of a classical play. If you're doing a new play, you have a different sense of loyalty and respect of the text, and the writer wants to see it in the way they imagined it. Only with an older text that's out of copyright can you use your imagination and the director can push the vision.
Off Plan is based on Aeschylus' Oresteia. We started workshops on it two years ago. I got people from different disciplines, such as dance, video and acting, with the writer Simon Doyle, and we sat in a room for a week and read around the myth that is the end of the war in Troy.
One of the storylines that made me think about this piece was about homecoming, which I'd had after having been out of the country for eight years. It's not a huge theme in the original, when Orestes comes home, but I thought it could be. He comes back to a changed country: his father's been murdered, and Clytemnestra and her cousin are ruling with an iron fist.
We're creating the piece as an ensemble. It has been a slow-burner, and it's probably the riskiest thing I've ever done, and on a shoestring, too.
Off Plan runs in Project Arts Centre from February 11th to 27th. See www.projectartscentre.ie for more info