Mouths Making Water: A stage adaption of James Joyce's 'Finnegans Wake'

Mouths Making Water: A stage adaption of James Joyce's 'Finnegans Wake'

by Marc-Ivan O'Gorman


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Performed in the round, with the washerwomen describing a circle of wet rags on the perimeter of the stage, and the characters moving in diametric pairs, orbiting the central figure of Anna Livia, the fluvial mother, the female life force, visually expressed the cyclical motif at the heart of the work. Anna Livia’s speech, while cataloging rivers from around the globe, was accompanied by a soundtrack of original music composed of audio loops, at the same time, discrete portions of her lines were electronically sampled and repeated. Whether reflecting Campbell’s universal heroic cycle, the circadian rhythms of sleep, or Christian and eastern philosophical concepts of death and rebirth, Mouths Making Water portrayed the literal sense of revolution in Finnegans Wake.

Ultimately, the goal was to make some sense of the text and present it in a manner that made Joyce’s book comprehensible to the uninitiated, to present a primer of a deeply complex and rewarding novel. Recognizing that Joyce was an acclaimed singer, a musical aficionado, and, by the time he crafted his final words, practically blind, and therefore writing primarily for the ear, suggested that privileging the role of rhythm and sound in the language was the key to performing Finnegans Wake. As a review of the first production described Mouths Making Water: “Rather than try to make Joyce’s impenetrable text accessible for simple meaning, the actors performed the lines as poetry, accentuating the musicality and hidden emotion of the book. The effect was quite hypnotic. The disciplined ensemble movement and use of sound added to the sense of a dense voice poem coming vividly to life in an entrancing theatrical ritual.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781925723014
Publisher: Apostrophe Press
Publication date: 06/08/2018
Pages: 84
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.17(d)

About the Author

Marc-Ivan O'Gorman is a writer and director who started his career as a musician and performer; a founding member of several theatre companies; The Razor's Edge, Essential, and DoubleTake; with Double Take he directed, wrote and designed several original shows that toured throughout Ireland and the UK.

He has written and directed short and feature films, stage and radio plays. He continues to perform and write music, especially for film and TV, under the name, 'The Spinning Boy'.

A graduate of the Visual Media programme at the College of Marketing & Design in Mountjoy Square. He has an advanced diploma in Communications from the Dublin Institute of Technology, a degree in Communications from Trinity College Dublin, and a Masters Degree in TV, Radio & Film from Syracuse University, New York. He has also studied filmmaking, screenwriting and composing with UCLA & NYU.

He divides his time between Ireland, Los Angeles, and New Delhi.

Table of Contents

scene 1 page 3

A young (Miss Doddpebble) and Old (Missus Quickenough) Washer Women gossip about Anna Livia as they wash clothes on the side of the Liffey.

scene 2 page 9

Anna Livia reminisces about her life and welcomes the idea of her daughter taking over her mantel.

scene 3 page 13

Izzy (Anna’s daughter) puts to her father (H.C.E.) the rumours about him performing some inappropriate act in the park. He initially denies, but then ultimately admits his guilt.

scene 4 page 19

Shaun outlines how and Why his twin brother Shem is a total loser and a fake. Shem accepts all of it.

scene 5 page 23

Washer women continue their gossip about Anna Livia and her family.

scene 6 page 27

Shaun outlines how and why his twin brother Shem is a total loser based on the rubbish food and drink he enjoys.

scene 7 page 31

Washer women continue their gossip about Anna Livia and her family.

scene 8 page 35

Anna Livia arrives to protect her favorite son Shem from his bullying brother.

scene 9 page 39

Following his public shaming H.C.E. has hit the bottle and is drunkenly reminiscing about the good old days.

scene 10 page 47

Anna Livia bids farewell to the world as she merges with the Ocean.

scene 11 page 49

Night falls and washer women slowly turn into a stone and an elm.

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