Behind The Curtain – Week Two with Caoimhe Dunn
This week on ‘Behind the Curtain’ we chat with the master of many trades and talents, Caoimhe Dunn. Caoimhe manages a variety of elements at our festivals including set design, costumes, performing and much much … much much more!
Q) What would you say is your area (or areas) of expertise?
I’d say my area of expertise is outdoor arts events – that kind of covers a lot!
I’m also an (…deep breath…) artist, sculptor, prop & model-maker, puppeteer, puppet maker, mask maker and arts facilitator, performer, giant herder and cardboard wizard.
Q) What inspired you to get into this field of work?
I saw Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed outdoors in a Big Top tent when I was about 10 – my best friend and I had our minds made up that we should run away with the theatre/circus. I was rather enamoured with the actor who was playing “puck” – he looked a bit like Richard O’Brien from the Crystal maze!
Q) Out of all of your fields of expertise, because we know there are A LOT, which is your favourite, and why?
I’d find it hard to choose what my favourite area is – it’s great seeing an idea or a design all the way through. I love to get stuck in and get my hands dirty making and painting but getting to perform or welcome audiences into an experience I’ve helped create is a little bit magical. It’s really great seeing people’s response to things you’ve created first-hand.
Q)How do you apply your expertise to Lantern Presents?
With a large cloth and elbow grease, and allow 24 hours to dry.
Q) What Lantern Presents have you been involved with over the years, and in what capacity?
I’ve helped organise parades in Wexford, dressed stages at outdoor music events in Leopardstown, and helped out Santa in the North Pole. I think I’ve been involved in different events since the Spiegeltent Festival started in 2012.
Q) What festival or event that Lantern Presents runs is your favourite so far and why?
Hard to choose! I’ve really enjoyed working at Jestfest over the years, but getting to experience Christmas through the eyes of the families visiting Santa is pretty special.
Q) What project has been the most creatively challenging for you over the years?
Probably creating a show with Paul and Danielle (last week’s interviewees) for the Spiegeltent festival a few years ago. It was about a really inept group of has-been circus performers – great to get to perform and explore creating a character.
Q) If someone wanted to get into your areas of expertise how would you recommend they do this?
I originally studied fine art, but over the years I’ve met people who’ve found their way into working in events and entertainment in so many different ways. I think the thing is to find something you are good at and see how you can apply that to an area you are interested in. I started off making masks using my skills in fine art and it grew from there.
Q) What are you up to when you’re not working with Lantern festivals and events?
I’m a Street Arts & Spectacle artist, so when I’m not working with the gang at Lantern I’m helping community groups create their own outdoor arts experiences, parades and performances or creating puppets and exploring visual art with young people. This Autumn I’ll hopefully be working with a local school on the Living Arts Project.
I’m also a prop and model-maker so sometimes I’m working backstage in theatre or sculpting on set for Film and T.V.
Q) Can people hire your creative services?
Q) How has COVID 19 impacted your industry and what do you imagine will change in the future because of it?
I was working with 6 different schools and community groups in Kerry creating a piece for the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Tralee when COVID 19 shut everything down. It’s had such a massive impact on the work I normally do, and it was so hard leaving all that work behind without getting a chance to take it to the streets and celebrate.
I love introducing people to what I do. Having the opportunity to show my passion, engaging and encouraging others to try new things and get involved, really inspires me. Right now trying to facilitate workshops or work with school groups is still far off but I’m hopeful that the measures brought in to protect us will mean we can get out and get involved in the arts again.
Q)Anything else you would like to add…
Wash your hands!
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