An interview with Ciaran Fitzgerald, Mess up the Mess Theatre Company

Image Credit Kirsten McTernan

 Hi can you give our readers some background information on yourself please? 
My name is Ciaran Fitzgerald, I’m 22 and from Port Talbot in South Wales. I’m currently studying scriptwriting at the University of South Wales, going into my second year in September. I have cerebral palsy which effects the way I walk and talk. In my spare time I’m a member of Mess up the Mess theatre company, and have been since 2011 and have performed in many shows with them.
So what got you interested in the arts? 
I got interested in the arts when I was about 13, I joined a local theatre company for young people with disabilities. After about 2 years I found the group wasn’t challenging me enough as a performer. Around the same time, Dafydd James was developing a play called ‘Click,’ about social networking and the concept of identity and the internet for Mess up the Mess Theatre Company. I played the part of Rob, a character who had cerebral palsy, I really enjoyed performing onstage with a diverse group of young people in a wonderful play. I have been performing, writing and volunteering with Mess up the Mess ever since.

Can you tell us about  Us Proclaimed: Clywch Ni? 
Us Proclaimed: Clywch Ni is a devised play with music which focuses on the life experiences of a group of young people between the ages of 11 & 22. The play explores themes including sexuality, gender identity, disability, mental health issues and also explores what the cast of young people think of each other and themselves. The question the play asks is whether we should seek to escape the difficulties we face in life, by vesseling them into ‘Robots’ or Musical theatre, and masking them in that way, or whether we should face our demons head on, and fully acknowledge their existence. Who do we want to be? What kind of society do we want to live in? These are the questions that the play asks.

Us Proclaimed: Clywch Ni throws a spotlight on the unique identities, perspectives, passions and interests of young people growing up in Wales today through music, comedy, poetry, drama and movement. How did you think the production has managed to capture all the different young people’s voices? 
I would agree that the voices of young people have been clearly received and heard throughout the project, however, not all of these extracts of self-expression have translated into scenes or sections in the play. Every member of the cast does however have a chance within the play to voice their opinions on subjects including, sexuality, gender, anxiety, the relationship between themselves and their parents and so forth.  You may ask whether this play is fully representative of the experience of being a young person in Wales in 2017? I would argue not, and I would also argue that it does not need to be. The play is representative of the company of young people who perform the play, but perhaps not the young people of Wales in general.

There are a range of organisations supporting Young Peoples creativity on this production. I wonder if you feel the current support network and career opportunities for young creatives feels ‘healthy’ to you? Can more be done? 
I think that certainly more can be done. There is definitely a base platform for young creatives within organisations such as Mess up the Mess to exude and foster their creative talents, but perhaps as young people get to the age where they want to make more of a solid impact upon the arts in Wales, there is no solid further platform for them to move on to other than university education, which is no guarantee of a career in the arts. I think that generally, there needs to be more opportunities for young people who perhaps want a career in the arts, but don’t want the pressure or debt that university brings. I also feel that there needs to be more opportunities for arts graduates to attain employment in their chosen avenue of the creative industry. There seems to be an appreciation of the incredible artists, actor, writer and directors that we have in this country who are already proven at the highest level, but less of an incentive to promote the new talent coming through the ranks. Companies like Mess up the Mess and Get the Chance definitely need to be at the forefront of this, and do their best to guide their young people who want a career in the arts along the right paths. There should I feel also be more liaising between production companies and youth arts organizations to offer young people who are interested in the arts, opportunities such as internships and work experience. We have wonderful youth arts companies in Wales, we also have many wonderful professional production companies, we need to bridge the gap between these two.
If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?
If I were to fund one area of the arts in Wales, I would give more opportunities for graduates, or young people making their first forays into the professional industry. Perhaps offering internships or permanent placements for young writers, performers and directors in Wales.
You can catch performances at the dates/times below
Miners, Ammanford
25 August, 7.30pm
26 August, 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Ffwrnes, Llanelli
7 September, 1.30pm & 7.30pm
8 September
Tickets on sale on the door through ArtWorks
Dance House, Wales Millennium Centre
16 September, 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Tickets not on sale yet
Thanks for your time Ciaran

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