The Fregoli Heart Project

The Fregoli Heart Project“It was like an antidote to all the hate press, all the stuff about borders and differences.”

As heard on The Ray D'Arcy Show

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At 91 Burt Bacharach is still performing live and still closing his shows by singing, “What the world needs now, is love sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of”. Over half a century after this hit song was written, its sentiment sadly holds true. Galway based theatre company, Fregoli clearly feel it too and have decided to put some love out in to the world, in the form of their latest performance piece. The Fregoli Heart Project is a performance devised from stories of love, received from members of the public and presented in various forms including dance, spoken word and dialogue. The cast includes eight young dancers living in Direct Provision and five actors from Bohermore Teen Drama Group.

Artistic director of Fregoli, Maria Tivnan and two of the young performers, Faith and Evan, called into the Roadcaster in Eyre Square to chat to Ray D’Arcy about The Fregoli Heart Project, which began with a call-out to members of the public through social media, posters and word of mouth, asking ‘what does love mean to you’. Maria explained where the idea came from:

“It was like an antidote to all the hate press, all the stuff about borders and differences and stuff like that. I’m doing theatre a long time and sometimes it goes down the dark routes which it has to, but I was seeing a lot of hearts and sometimes you see what you want to see. I thought, ok right, let’s do something about the heart and about love.”

Ray wondered why kind of pieces they got in return and Maria read from some of the responses. People shared thoughts on the love between a parent and a child, love of place, romantic love and more. She read from one piece about the love between friends, which was in fact the first piece they received for the project.

“I’ve been in the real lows of depression the last few months and when she discovered I was sleeping all day, she decreed that she was going to take me walking every morning. I’ve been woken up with her standing at the end of the bed cajoling, goading me up. I’ve no idea where she got the key of the house, but every morning after she drops her two boys to school, she appears. She gets me out, pours my orange juice and makes me walk 5km … this is love.”

Evan from Bohermore Teen Drama Group has an enduring love of place that inspired his contribution to the show. He told Ray how his area, located in the centre of Galway City, gets bad press sometimes, but the closeness of the community something to be cherished. He compared it to how imagines life in Dublin.

“Basically up there you wouldn’t be able to walk into someone’s house, say hello, goodbye whatever. You can do that up in Bohermore because we’re all so close together house-wise but also friends-wise.”

Faith, who came to Ireland from Zimbabwe and has lived in Direct Provision in Salthill ever since, is one of the dancers in the show, which explores how love makes us move as well as how it makes us think and feel. Ray was interested in hearing about experience of Direct Provision. Faith politely answered:

“It’s really not that bad because you get to meet new people … I enjoy playing with other kids and community people, they are really kind.”

Ray asked Faith a little more about her family, learning that while she’s here with her mother and her sister, she has a 5 year old brother who is still in Zimbabwe. She told Ray she misses him dreadfully. Faith’s is a family that knows a lot about the multi-faceted nature of love.

You can listen to Ray’s interview with the Fregoli Heart Project gang in full, here. The show takes place in Axis Ballymun, Dublin on Sat November 30th.

Jan Ní Fhlanagáin

© The Listener 2019

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