In this installment of China Chats, Creative Producer Hillary Dziminski talks about why Made in China is special to her and the challenges of producing a show.
It's Valentine's Day. I'm sitting in an Insomnia, watching the weather turn progressively more grey and gloomy and making a list. This is the fourth list I've made today and probably the tenth list I've made this week, and it's only Tuesday. I'm the Queen of Lists. I make lists for everything. Of course, there's the standard To-Do lists, but then there's also grocery lists (cat food and treats, some kind of fruit because I'm dangerously close to getting scurvy), invite lists, venue lists, People to Call, People to Email (seriously, Hillary, respond to your mother before she calls Liam Neeson to hunt you down). The lists are coming out of me like poor Neill's breakfast -- you know what I'm talking about if you read the last China Chats post.
If you had told me in May 2014 when I graduated university with a degree in French Studies that I would move to Ireland and start work as a Creative Producer for before I turned 25, I would've laughed in your face. Producer. Sure. Theatre was a dream I gave up when the run of my high school's senior year production of Cinderella came down. My glory days of theatre ended when I took my final poofy-ball-gowned bow. All that remained of those days was my golden carriage necklace (thanks, parents!) reminding me that for a glorious, fleeting moment I really was a princess.
Or so I thought.
Enter the theatre gods/lunatics who changed my life -- Misters Rex Ryan and Edwin Mullane. I'd met Rex once or twice before at the Viking and, of course, had a massive crush on him because, duh, I saw him in his boxers in Pilgrim. And then there he was in his skivvies again in Made in China, albeit far less macho and alluring as Paddy, and I have to say I was a little bit starstruck by the whole thing. These guys were legit, seriously talented actors, not to mention they were approachable and totally willing to chat over a pint. After the show, in pink-cheeked admiration, I congratulated both of them (mistakenly calling Ed "Rex" in my flustered nervousness, even though I knew better -- sorry, Ed!) and sheepishly offered to help them out if they ever needed a hand with anything. Not long after that they were welcoming me to the Corps family, and I've never felt more a part of anything.
Made in China was and is magical for me. Not only because that fateful post-show chat eventually led to me joining the Corps Ensemble, but because it was one of the most memorable productions I've seen to date. Don't get me wrong, I had seen incredible theatre before in New York, London, Vienna, but I'd never walked out of a show with such a sense of invigoration, of emotional buzz, of having been so absolutely riveted by something that wasn't a top-notch film. It was cinematically engaging in a way I hadn't known was possible in live theatre. It made me feel alive.
It was also a show that challenged me. Prior to Made in China I hadn't been exposed to much violence onstage; I had certainly never been confronted with language that was simultaneously poetic and distressing. The intimacy of the Viking put these things right in my face, forced me to realize that though I had read many great plays, I had experienced significantly fewer.
Taking on the colossus that was Bug was a daunting and exhilarating first experience as a Producer. I learned everything on the fly (with tremendous professional and moral support from friends in the industry) but to be able to work on a show that I had seen and admired, that shaped my attitude towards Dublin theatre, that energized me to pursue a career I'd long given up hope for ... that is an absolute privilege.
So bring on the lists. Bring on the phone calls and emails, the sandwiches from boxes, and the running around town from studio to print shop to prop shop and back. I'm ready and I'm thrilled to be helping to create a tour of a show that I know will inspire the same feelings of awe and excitement and vitality in our audience members.