I make socially helpful art, and I’ve a toolkit of skills to do that with: theatre directing, project coordination, telling stories live, participatory arts work and supporting people who especially need support. I work across disciplines, and am very interested in finding new ways to make playful, nourishing social situations.
Career wise, here’s where I’ve been, and what I was doing there… (If my life story was an old Irish/Scottish legend, then this section would be called “The Four Ages of Naomi”):
The First Age: Ireland, 2002-2008: Physical theatre training as part of my degree in Drama & Theatre Studies (and Philosophy) at University College Cork, hugely influenced by Michael Chekhov’s psycho-physical training practises and Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints. Worked as professional director and performer, in devised and physical theatre. Won awards!! Yes!! I also started teaching, and invented my dearly beloved Mobile Story Tent, which has been going ever since.
The Second Age: London, 2008-2011: Did an MFA in Theatre Directing at Birkbeck, University of London. On this practical, industry-based training programme, my research focused partly on the use of improvisation to keep text-based performance ‘alive’, inspired by our visiting teachers Mike Leigh and director Mike Alfreds. I was Resident Assistant Director at the Lyric Hammersmith theatre, and did all sorts of cool things: The most challenging and fulfilling was being company director for a national tour of Filter and The Lyric’s Three Sisters. Outside of the weirdly glamorous world of assistant directing main-stage work, at the Lyric and elsewhere, I continued making small-scale, curious-minded theatre, including taking puppet show Norman Shadowboxer on a schools tour in London and to the Edinburgh Fringe. But aside from this and a few other projects, I deeply missed making performance for/with “non-theatre-y” people. I missed a sense of connection with a more broad range of participants and audiences. So…
The Third Age: Scotland, 2011-2015: I joined a grassroots community arts company called The Village Storytelling Centre, became a storyteller, and for 4 years ran a programme to help disadvantaged young people in Glasgow to tell their own stories. I developed a sensitive, reflective practice for working through story and performance with people who might be dealing with stress, disability, trauma or mental illness. I grew as a participatory artist, and also as a projects manager. I led inventive, colourful projects about collecting and sharing the stories of a community, through performance, theatre, film, sound and visual art. I collaborated with performer Ronan McMahon so many times that we’ve now given ourselves a name: Two Detectives.