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Who are the Risky Proximity Players?

The Risky Proximity Players were born in a thrilling narrative folie á deux, a cacophonous mind-‘splosion of sexy paragraphs and… and…

In more mundane, accurate terms, the RPP  had its genesis in the postgraduate writing group of Trinity College, established in the summer of 2010 by Alex Runchman over drinks in Kennedy’s Bar, Burgh EVERYONE DRINKS THE WATER HER1Quay, and meeting on Tuedsday every week upstairs in Foster Place. It was here that many stories that the RPP would later perform were first read out to a discerning audience of literary titans.

Having already tested the waters with a succesful reading of his own poetry, it was suggested by Alex that a public reading of my work would be something our fellow postgrads would like to see.The first of these shows, named Everyone Drinks the Water Here after a line in ‘I Arrive’, one of the earliest stories written, took place in November of 2010 in the Postgraduate Common Room of Trinity College. I was joined by Kate Ellen Roddy in the reading of five short stories.

The reading was a success and well attended. and whetted my appetite for more performances. One little touch I really enjoyed was hiding a teabag in the water jug. Steadily it turned the water a filthy brown as the show went on. It was very effective.

Well done me.

sweetThe second of these shows was titled Sweet Smoke & Cruelty (I fear the origin of this phrase is lost to the ages) and was also performed in the Common Room at Trinity College on April 1st 2011. This was the show that set the model of what was to follow: four performers reading the stories, arrayed in chairs, each with their own book to read from. The stage was lit with a plethora of lamps to create a rather pleasing scene.

It also saw the introduction of what would become the Risky Proximity costume– white shirt, black trousers, black tie and uncongrous shoes, individually chosen by each member of the troupe. Around the right arm, at the elbow, were bands of black material (socks, expertly stitched into loops– just remember to tuck the heel away behind the loop!)

This was the first show to feature Dave Rudden, whom I had met at the end of the first show and it was his suggestion to use to the ‘Risky Proximity’ on the poster as a name for the troupe. It was a good name. It stuck.

Dave and I were joined by Alex Runchman and Clare Hayes-Brady in reading the stories. It went well. I remember an excited gent in the audience thought the show particularly ace and joined in with loud emissions of ‘Oh no!’ and ‘Christ!’  Thanks anonymous man, you helped to make it a fantastic show.

The next performance by the RPP took place in Drumcondra at the Cat & Cage on the 12th of July 2011, as part of a Wurm and Apfel event curated by Kit Fryatt. Reading at this event and togged out in traditional RPP black and white were myself, Dave, Sarah Byrne and Dylan McDonough. This would be the classic set, perhaps the purist expression of the RPP aesthetic, each story landing like a body blow, ending on a triumphant rendition of ‘On Tuesdays We Wear Sexy Hats.’ We shared the bill with miss Sarah Griffin, a poet of renown, who would join the Players for future performances.

The Players

Dave Rudden, Graham Tugwell, Sarah Griffin at Milk & Cookies

With this show RPP were fairly launched on the waters of the Dublin literary scene, and we began looking for places to perform outside of Trinity college. Subsequently the Players made appearances across the city, reading at events such as the Milk & Cookies storytelling events.

Sweet Smoke & CrueltyTwo shows took place in Rob Brown’s Loft bookshop, formerly upstairs in the Twisted Pepper cafe on Middle Abbey Street. The first of these shows took place on the 7th of September 2011 and featured myself, Dave, Sarah Griffin and Sarah Byrne. Emerging to the sound of Nik Kershaw’s Wouldn’t it Be Good? and proud in our black and white, we performed a selection of short stories for an eager audience. The night went so well that we returned a few months later.

Thishallowe'en poster second show took place on the 2nd of November performed by myself, Dave, Sarah Griffin and for the first time Deidre O’Sullivan.

I was battling bronchitis at the time and I list it as one of my greatest personal achievements not to have died on stage.

Something of a hiatus followed that last show. There were many smaller, low-key performances, mostly by myself or with one performer. Sinead O’Brien performed ‘One Tadpole Silver’ at Milk & Cookies, while I performed at Tonguebox and as part of the Spoke series of live readings at the Irish Writer’s Centre in April 2012. I would return to the IWC to perform a story for Culture Night in September 2012.

finished poster 2The latter half of 2012 has been largely spent working with Sinead O’Brien on adapting a series of short stories with an eye to turning them into a cohesive theatrical performance, the logical culmination in a series of increasingly dramatic storytelling events. The first show of this grand experiment is coming very soon. The end of February will see the Risky Proximity Players return with High Five, Danny O’C! as part of the Collaborations Festival.

Plans are afoot. Great things lie ahead.


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