02.07.2013 / The Munster Express
Some may argue that the Cork Opera House presentation of 100%Cork, for Cork Midsummer Festival is not theatre as it puts one hundred Cork people onstage to talk about themselves and then carry out a series of votes on a revolving stage. In fact, there is a lot of voting on such a range of issues and a camera from overhead projects the crowd positions as they move, divide and take a stance on many relevant issues, onto a screen.
Out of a rehearsal process, over a period of time and using statistics from CSO (Central Statistics Office) a human pattern of Cork is assembled from seven areas and people were invited from those areas to represent the statistical averages of age, gender, nationality and Northside as 'against' other side sections. 'Norries' express their great pride in their location to the whoops and cheers from the audience. 51 percent are female, and there was an age-range from two-and-a-half to 77, including 16 children under 12 and ten people over 60.
A CSO employee Mary Malone walked onstage and explained the process, as eighty or so people followed her and said a sentence or two about who they were and where they came from. I thought that might be boring, but it wasn't. I was involved in the story of Cork, and I began to have favourites, the attractive Mary Malone, the children who played onstage and 'got in the way' at times. I had a heg in my heart for the oldest lady onstage, who had the shakes and seemed uncertain at times about some of the voting positions ( so lifelike as we are often so uncertain ourselves).
Just like in a play, there was a theatrical honesty, a theatrical truth, and I suspect a lot more reality than I could understand.
The voting by moving under a 'Me' or 'Not Me' sign became such a visual affirmation for social issues, gender issues and the majority who favoured abortion. Some voting took place in the dark using light held up to appear like twinkling stars on a back projection. There was an improvised section that involved the audience as well.
For ninety plus minutes I had a wonderful, informative and at times emotional experience at a play, a large cast play of peoples lives. I was still talking about it days later.