CREATIVE SPIRIT Sarah O’Toole is a director and dramaturg, as well as an actor, playwright, singer and DJ.
The Linenhall Arts Centre’s efforts to support artists through exhibitions and promotion has long been known and appreciated, but behind the scenes it also offers invaluable practical support too. Every year, for example, it names a different artist in residence, as well as an associate artist – and this year title of the latter has been awarded to Tourmakeady theatre artist, Sarah O’Toole.
Of course, the benefits of the associate artist role run two ways, with both the artist and the Castlebar arts centre reaping rewards. The artist gains ongoing employment and financial stability to support them as they create new work, while the Linenhall benefits from the energy and artistic thinking the artist brings into the culture of the organisation.
O’Toole moved back to Co Mayo just before the pandemic. Audiences here may be familiar with her work as a collaborative expert and performer in previous Linenhall Associate Artist Elaine Mears’ immersive site-specific work, ‘If Walls Could Talk’ or as a performer with jazz band Queen Street, who performed in the Linenhall last Summer as part of a fundraiser for OutWest, the social, support and advocacy group for LGBTQ+ people in Connacht.
A director and dramaturg, as well as an actor, playwright, singer and DJ, Sarah loves collaborating with other artists, often resulting in an amalgamation of mediums with an innovative result, which engages audiences while simultaneously not giving them exactly what they expect.
Throughout 2023, O’Toole will concentrate on building relationships between the Linenhall and theatre artists in Mayo, discovering original playwriting voices and creating the foundation for high-quality professional theatre work to be created at the Linenhall – and disseminated from there to the rest of the country.
And the artist couldn’t be happier. “Throughout my time with the Linenhall, my focus will be to reach out to fellow theatre artists in the county. I am very excited about finding fresh playwriting voices, and perspectives on what it means to live in Mayo today,” she said.
In 2021 and 2022, O’Toole was awarded a bursary to explore the incorporation of cabaret and drag performance into her theatre practice, as well as an Arts Council Agility Award to develop the first draft of a play, ‘George’, which explores these themes and performance styles.
We are all looking forward to seeing what 2023 will bring for this forward looking creative- spirit, and the exciting work she is sure to create.