Complex Productions in an empty space
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Complex Productions in an empty space

Unusually for a theatre company these days, Complex Productions has actually benefited from the economic crisis. The building the group now occupies on Smithfield Square in Dublin was initially developed as a retail space, although having remained empty for seven years, it has recently been claimed by NAMA. The Complex is a cavernous, concrete space that currently houses Complex Productions. Under the artistic direction of Vanessa Fielding, the company of six core members was launched in February 2009 with the site-specific piece, Complexity, scripted by Anthony Goulding. No rent is exchanged, but the group does look after expenses and the building’s general upkeep. Keen to share the space with other theatre and visual artists, the company opened the building to the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival earlier this month.

Fielding would like to create work that makes connections with the eclectic Smithfield neighbourhood, home to born-and-bred Dubliners and more recent arrivals from around Ireland and abroad. In particular, she is interested in exploring social issues of relevance to the area and its surrounds. For some time now, northwest inner-city Dublin has needed a creative infusion, Fielding maintains, and she hopes that The Complex will become a multi-disciplinary live arts venue that will fill this gap.

While the company has not received funding for their latest project (Iron, by Rona Monro), Fielding does not want to go down the profit-share route and would rather raise finance first, as the group did last year by hosting a fundraising night in Vicar Street (pictured). In order to stage their target of three shows a year, the company is interested in working with other artists and technicians in mutually-benefiting ways, such as trading services, as it recently did with Galloglass theatre company. The group was due to stage Iron this month, but due to personal circumstances affecting a cast member, the show had to be postponed.

Fielding, who trained in Forum Theatre with Brazilian director Augusto Boal, predicts that the group will extend its reach in a more applied context. In the past, she has run workshops with the Dublin Aids Alliance, and most recently has been asked to facilitate workshops for young people in Ronanstown, Dublin.

NAMA taketh and giveth away, but in these precarious times, it seems that a passion for creativity and community still manages to simmer on.


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