We create new artist-led work featuring the incredible talent of artists in the North West of Ireland. We believe in making work that can connect with a global audience. We champion fresh voices and new work for both existing and new audiences.
Over the last decade we have given life to new theatre and traditional arts productions which have toured worldwide reaching global audiences and garnering critical acclaim and awards on their travels. We have commemorated historical events and celebrated the work of many musicians and performing artists in our celebration concerts and events.
We have also produced a range of events for children and families, encouraging exploration of the world of sound and music-making. Our concerts for babies series has explored and celebrated many different styles of music since launching in 2016. We also created and produced a special show Codladh Sámh – a traditional music experience for babies which celebrates forgotten lullabies of yesteryear.
One-man show The Man in the Woman's Shoes, and its companion piece I Hear You and Rejoice were commissioned by Hawk’s Well Theatre and Sligo Arts Service for Bealtaine 2012.
Written by and starring Mikel Murfi, the former, described as “a love letter to Sligo” has toured extensively. Hailed as “a miniature masterpiece” by the Times of London, and praised for its “astonishing acting” by the New York Times, the show has touched hearts and entertained audiences all over the world, picking up numerous awards along the way.
I Hear You and Rejoice meanwhile, is an account of one of the most unlikely marriages of all time, centring on “the ups, the downs and the beyond the beyonds.” The play was given a glowing five star review by the London Evening Standard who called it; “pure distilled 100 per cent theatrical magic”.
Written by artist in residence Bob Kelly, The Big Wall formed part of our programme of events focusing on the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. This unique, immersive piece of theatre took place in the historical settings of Sligo Courthouse and Sligo Gaol, in 2016.
Beginning in the courthouse, the audience was brought on a journey through a Sligo of the past, finally arriving at Sligo Gaol or 'The Big Wall' as it was known. The immersive nature of this piece of theatre brought the audience that bit closer to life in Sligo in 1916.
The ambitious production featured a professional cast who were augmented by members of Sligo Youth Theatre and a cast of twenty-eight local actors. The show was performed to over five hundred people, over twenty-four showings.
Co-produced with Fidget Feet, The Second Coming was the first dance show ever to appear at Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow.
A highlight of both the Tread Softly and All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil festivals in 2014, this show also toured Germany in 2015. The show fused traditional Irish music, song and dance with aerial circus, theatre, narrative and film.
A beautiful original musical score was composed by renowned Sligo-based harpist, Michael Rooney. Integral to the soundscape and visuals of the show, the music was interwoven with audio recordings and film footage of WB Yeats throughout the performance.
A powerful and unique production, Constance explored the enigmatic luminaire of Constance de Markievicz, presenting the artist, activist and revolutionary through her own words.
Reflecting on her life and legacy and featuring an octet of traditional Irish and classical musicians, Constance combined original compositions by Michael Rooney with the eponymous figure’s prose and poetry to create a rich sonic experience.
Celebrating one of Ireland’s most iconic figures, the production was written and directed by Kellie Hughes and featured Sligo actress Nichola MacEvilly as the titular character, along with eight musicians from the Sligo area. Constance premiered at Lissadell Church in December 2019.
In 2019, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival commissioned Brokentalkers – an internationally renowned theatre company who have been described as “one of Ireland’s most fearless and path-breaking theatre companies” - to create a performance with the group. The resulting piece, Uprooted explored in a darkly comic way the notion of acceptability and what it takes to fit into a place.
Uprooted is a collaborative theatre project between a culturally diverse group of performers, co-facilitated by CSAF and Hawk’s Well Theatre.
A performance project which brought together Sorcha Fox, Charmaine T Matonsi,Abigail (Ashley) Ramaabya, Grace Moyo, Amir Abualrob, Wasekere-Sekerani, Nokwanda Siziba, Donal O’Kelly and poet Rafeef Ziadah, The Bed meanwhile explored ideas of homelessness, life, safety, exile, incarceration, the reality of life in Direct Provision and freedom. The music for the piece was composed and performed by Dee Armstrong and Lughaidh Armstrong Mayock. This was co-produced by CSAF and Hawk’s Well Theatre as a streamed performance in 2020.
Inspired by real-life interviews with people in the Sligo area about their experiences of the first lockdown in 2020, Snapshot is a record of a global event through a local lens.
Written by Artist-in-Residence Miriam Needham, the play is set in the early days of the first lockdown, and explores how we remember and the different ways in which we cope. It is a story of two sisters trying to connect in a disconnected world and finding their footing in a changing landscape. Through their relationship, we explore loss, loneliness, and shared memories, all with humour and a lightness of touch.
The show premiered at Hawk’s Well Theatre in August 2021 and toured Ireland in April 2022.
Co-produced with Loco and Reckless productions, Here Comes Trouble (A Show About Friendship) was written and created by Mikel Murfi and Anna Kaszuba. A heart-warming production, the show blended Murfi’s solo theatre work with Kaszuba’s unique dance form to create an honest, joyful, uplifting show.
Designed to soothe the soul and allow reflection on the deep value of friendship, Here Comes Trouble premiered at Hawk’s Well Theatre in September 2021.
Combining original music, visual art, poetry and wonderful audio essays, Are We There Yet? brought together artists from varying disciplines and schools to create a unique record of the construction of the N4 to Sligo.
In the summer of 2021, five people walked the 16k of unfinished, unopened road from Castlebaldwin to Toberbride in Collooney. Their only job that day was just to be there; to listen, see, touch and smell, and to get a taste of this stretch of green countryside now licked with a new coat of tarmac.
A collaboration curated by Artist-in-Residence Eithne Hand, the poet brought together John Joe Kelly (music), Kari Cahill (visual art), Nigel Gallagher (photography and map making), and Anya Murray (audio essays on flora and fauna) to create new perspectives on the nature, history and geography of the permanently altered landscape.
Premiering at Sligo City Hall, the exhibition has since been made available online.
Although the global pandemic stopped the world in its tracks, Hawk’s Well continued to innovate, with a number of streamed shows that reached global audiences during the 2020 – 2022 period.
Cultural Companions was an initiative set up in 2019 with the aim of providing increased opportunities for older people to engage with Sligo’s vibrant cultural and arts.
Our COVID closure and the fact that older people cocooned alone during lockdown inspired us to revisit this project as we were acutely aware that connecting with and supporting each other in new ways had become more important than ever.
In late 2020, we paired four artists with four older people, after which the artists wrote an original piece of work inspired by the host and their conversations together. This led to Cultural Companions – The Diary Entries, which premiered in 2021 as part of First Fortnight festival.
We're Ready to Talk meanwhile, was a special streamed show produced as part of First Fortnight 2022: Ireland's Mental Health Arts & Culture Festival.
Author and psychologist Shane Martin and local artists came together to communally explore the topic of resilience through art and animated discussion.
The show reminded us of the healing power of the arts, togetherness and community, and featured beautiful uplifting performances and great conversation from a host of local artists.
A unique production, EVA, which premiered at the theatre on 11th Sept 2022 commemorated the life and work of one of Sligo’s radical revolutionaries, Eva Gore-Booth. The younger sister of Constance de Markievicz, Eva was a fierce social revolutionary, pacifist, and feminist, who rejected her privileged heritage, challenged the accepted social structures of her time, and fought passionately for gender and class equality throughout her life. A talented and prolific writer, Eva authored nineteen volumes of poetry, scores of philosophical prose, political writing, and seven plays.
Inspired by Eva’s partner Esther Roper’s assertion that “To follow the procession of her poems is to see and understand the story of her inner life”, creator Kellie Hughes charted Eva’s inner life, adapting her poetry and combining original compositions by Stephen Doherty.
Developed in collaboration with an octet of traditional and classical musicians that included Niamh Crowley, Seana Davey, Stephen Doherty, David Doocey, Niamh Farrell, Jim Higgins, Eddie Lee and Marie O’Byrne, the performance was a rich sonic experience celebrating the life, legacy and redoubtable spirit of Eva Gore-Booth.
Says show creator, Kellie Hughes, who also wrote and directed CONSTANCE: “I found Eva and her life and work through creating CONSTANCE for the Hawk’s Well Theatre. She was an incredible human being and artist...a leading light in the struggle for the vote and a champion of working women’s rights. Her writing on gender equality is also very important, to our time as much as her own.”
Speaking about bringing EVA to life with Hughes, Stephen Doherty, who himself played a key role in CONSTANCE enthused; “Finding a musical voice for Eva’s words and ideas has been such a rewarding process. The rich blend of musicality within the group led by Kellie who is masterful at fusing words and music together has brought this incredible figure to life."
A comedy set in a sleepy Sligo town, GomBean received its premiere at the theatre in September 2022. Written by and starring Niamh McGrath, and directed by Seamus O'Rourke, GomBean sees McGrath performing as multiple characters as she delivers a lockdown dose of caffeine fuelled fun! The comedy was developed in 2021 during Niamh’s Time at the Well residency at the Hawk’s Well.
GomBean is based in a horsebox coffee van and set on a pier. Grace O’Malley is an entrepreneur high on debt and low on self-esteem. She’s a former wrestler and when her arch-nemesis Ruby Stephens arrives in town, that’s when the story starts to get interesting. Her arrival literally turns Grace’s world upside down, as she contends to win back her title which she lost at the U18’s Community Games in ’94. When a chance at a cash prize comes her way so does a shot at an unforeseen redemption. Some dreams can’t be stomped on!
This Hawk’s Well Theatre production was created with the support of the Arts Council and Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund.
As a part of its national tour, GomBean returned to Hawk's Well in May 2023!
Directed by Hawk’s Well Theatre's ‘Artist-in-Residence’ Miriam Needham (Lecoq-trained actor, theatre-maker and voice-over artist), Hear Me Speak! was a theatrical adventure for ages 7+, combining physical theatre, object manipulation, and audio of Sligo children’s voices.
In March 2023, Miriam Needham visited primary schools in Sligo and facilitated workshops with children from 1st class - 4th class, asking them questions about how they see the world and creating space for them to talk about what they find important in life. During the workshops, children had the use of microphones, and could step up to the mic to say things in their own way. These workshops facilitated young people to explore their ideas and thoughts about the world around them, and the audio recordings were them used to form the sound design of Hear Me Speak!, and informed the devising process from the beginning.
Hear Me Speak! handed over the microphone - it cleared the space of adult thoughts, adult rules, and adult order. Time to listen up and hear what the young folk have to say!
Director: Miriam Needham
Performers: Caoimhe Feehily, Fiona Maria Fitzpatrick and Niamh McPhillips
Set, Prop and Costume Design: Sinéad O’Donnell-Carey
LX Design: Caroline Norris
Stage Manager: Heather Rose
Hear Me Speak! premiered on Thurs 27 April 2023 and ran until Sat 29 April 2023.
In May 2023, the Hawk's Well Theatre proudly presents the world Premiere of Remember Me, a new work for Irish theatre written and directed by Brian Leyden and performed by Fiona McGeown. With music from Seamie O’Dowd.
Remember Me is a subtle and movingly told true story inspired by the memories of Sligo resident May McConnell. It was commissioned by the Hawk's Well Theatre as a follow-on from our Cultural Companions initiative during the covid pandemic. This initiative paired local artists with people cocooning alone during the pandemic, to produce new work.
This new one-act play considers the decisions that shape our lives, and the ways in which the absent are remembered and reflected on. Fiona McGeown’s intimate solo performance evokes the powerful matriarchal voices of the past with rare precision and tender emotional depth.
After his first meet up with May McConnell in October 2021, Brian recalled what the poet Naomi Shihab Nye said: "There are two helpful words to keep in mind at the beginning of any writing adventure, pleasure and spaciousness. If we connect a sense of joy with our writing, we may be inclined to explore further."
It became a joy working with May who said, “I never planned for this, it just happened.”
Remember Me makes its World Premiere on Thursday 25 May 2023, with performances on Friday 26 May 7pm and Saturday 27 May at 1pm.
We are committed to becoming an accessible venue and strive to make our venue welcoming to all.