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  • Writer's pictureMarcas Mac an Tuairneir

Riocárd Ó hOddáil / Richard Huddleson

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Eadar-theangair is Dràmaire

Tha Riocárd Ó hOddail na eadar-theangair, dràmaire is tagraiche ollmhachd, ag obair air thèatar cuèir co-aimsireil sna dùthchannan Catalanach.

'S tric a bhios e ann an leabharlannan, taighean-thasgaidh, agus bùithtean bargan fìona ann am Beul Feirste is Bairsealòna. Aig àm na stainge, tha e ag ràdh làn plòigh, gu bheil e air gabhail ri lomnochd gus an t-eagal a chur air luchd-tadhail, gun fheum air nighe aodaich a dhèanamh.

The Arts are our gateway to re-shaping perceptions of Northern Ireland abroad, and they allow us to create new, exciting partnerships with others who find themselves coming out of conflict and dealing with difficult and complex legacies

For me, it’s always so moving to go to a little theatre in Catalonia, Euskadi, or Mexico and to see a play like Translationsor A Skull In Connemara being performed and resonating with the audience there. Thanks to Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, Marie Jones, Nell McCafferty, Medbh McGuckian, Sinéad Morrissey, and Paul Muldoon, we’ve given the world gripping drama, powerful prose, and outstanding poetry. And yet, despite all this creativity in such a small country, our global profile could be much better. Don’t get me wrong – it’s nice seeing people visiting this part of the world because they’ve fallen in love with the lore of Game of Thrones or the story of Titanic, but this land is bursting with legends and fables that could easily match an HBO blockbuster series.

There is a lot being done here on the ground by so many passionate individuals, but the Arts are not well funded in Northern Ireland, and that has serious repercussions throughout our society

Without wanting to sound either pompous or grandiose, the Arts are very much part of my daily life. I go to the theatre whenever I can, and I’m always reading something, whether it’s a bit of modernist literature, a short poem, or a new play related to my doctoral research. After a long period of resistance, I’ve recently got into audio-books, and it’s been a full-blown revolution for me. I love listening to someone talking about a topic that I’ve no knowledge of whatsoever – like Buddhist art or a history of the Kurds. And all that helps me understand the world better, and it allows me to forge new links with other cultures and worlds, past and present, in my own work. I find museums to be key to my creative process. I like to gaze at an object and I ask myself: What’s the story behind this thingamajig? And from there, you’ve suddenly got an amazing play or a brutal poem of loss.

That being said, whilst there’s a move to make the Arts more accessible, I think there’s still a lot of gate-keeping in the Arts, especially in the UK. As someone who didn’t study fine art or theatre at university, I often feel like I have to go the extra mile and prove myself through my work and my knowledge of other practitioners’ output. That’s part of why I decided to get out of London – I constantly felt like some imposter

I don’t hide my political opinions. They’re there in my work, in plain sight. The reason for this is because a lot of us in Northern Ireland have been through conflict and now live with the fallout.
We didn’t sign up for that. Our society is still divided, and I want to create work that responds to that. If someone feels troubled by the issues raised in my work, then that’s their problem, not mine.

Who I choose to translate and what I write about are firmly rooted in my gut feeling. I might love a piece of theatre, but then meet the dramaturg and realise there’s just no chemistry – and that’s the kiss of death for any project. If I’m working with someone else’s text, I want to ensure there’s a feeling of kinship, that we’re both on this journey together. The same goes with my own work, I might have an idea and develop it, only to realise it’s not got going in the right direction or that it’s lost its meaning entirely. It’s disappointing when that happens, but if the work isn’t hitting the right chord or pushing the agenda I’m backing, then what’s the point of pushing it onto an audience?

Ireland, both north and south, has a rich array of fantastic theatre translators and playwrights, but I sometimes feel like we’ve not gone far enough and there’s an unease around unpacking certain legacies. That’s why I admire Frank McGuinness, who carefully unravels identities, narratives, and structures through his plays. And that’s something I want to do in my work and through the act of translation. I don’t believe in a global world where everything can be easily understood and rendered into simple terms, where nothing is truly unique or firmly anchored in a certain landscape. That’s why I’m fascinated with work that travels and, like a chameleon, becomes of the local tapestry, allowing us to find the familiar in the foreign.

I rarely watch television because there’s never much on that I actually enjoy or would be interested in. After asking around for recommendations, I’m making the most of this time to indulge in some series and documentaries that were not on my radar. Whilst I have my doubts, I’m hoping this will trigger some interesting thoughts and get me thinking about new work. Prior to the mass panic, I managed to pick up a few books on sexual dissidence through art and I want to try and get through them now before everything goes back to full speed.

I was extremely lucky to be selected for a Faber residency in Catalonia earlier this year, to begin piecing together a collection of queer experimental poetry in Irish and Catalan. The residency gave me the time to really think about my work, the theory behind it, and where I want it to go. Prior to that residency, I was feeling quite lost and adrift, having just given up on London life. A completely new setting was exactly what I needed to reset my compass and get ink on the page.

An aghaidh na Stainge

Tha Riocárd an dùil am pròiseact a thòisich e a chrìochnachadh ron Chàisg. Tha e a' sgrìobhadh dealbh-chluich ùr, a thogas ceist air Na Buairidhean agus an dòigh a thèid a dhèiligeadh riutha fhathast, ga dheachdadh le bàs a bhràthar. Ga fhaireachdainn an-fhoiseil, ga sgrìobhadh ann an taigh an teaghlaich, bha Riocárd ga choileanadh ann an cafaidhean air feadh Bheul Feirste, ach thug an staing buaidh air sin, gu sgiobalta. Tha e a' gabhail iomagain is mar chuireas e casg air fhèin, nach till e thuige. Mar sin, tha e a' feuchainn àite sgrìobhaidh ùir a rèiteachadh. A bharrachd air sin, tha e an dòchas an ollamhachd aige a chrìochnachadh rè na bliadhna - agus taobh a-staigh còig seachdainean, mas urrainn.

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