We are proud to present our inaugural Wild Geese Virtual Síbín, a series of occasional conversations with newsmakers (often members) from the global Irish community, broadcast live via Google + Hangout.
This Friday (August 16th) at 6 p.m. ET, The Síbín features a conversation with Melbourne-based Fran O'Neill, the creator, producer and composer of the upcoming ceoldrama, "The Last Torch." Based on historic events in Ireland, Fran describes her musical as "'Les Miserables' meets 'Game of Thrones.'"
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Fran's work is the sentimental angle which drew her into it. In Fran's own words:
"This story needs to be told, the ancestors told me so.
I have been practising music from a very young age and have studied music for many years. A singer by trade, my passion also lies in composition, education and mysticism. This musical is a culmination of many years of study, research, dedication and passion. Many years ago my mother piqued my interest in her family history. Her family, the O'Rourke clan, were once the Princes of Ireland but over generations ended up in Scotland impoverished, living with abuse and alcoholism. My mother broke this cycle and moved to Australia where I grew up in a very protected yet passionate environment. Mum was never proud of her name or where she came from which in some way I understood, but I knew behind it all was a situation or circumstance that must have led to the downfall of this generous, noble clan.
I am sure you have noticed the interest of the public and film/television producers in Queen Elizabeth I and the Tudor period in general. I have a great love of this period myself, not only for its intrigue and politics but also for its style. I realised the need to tell the the Irish side of this fascinating period in history.
I started to research ferociously and was led to an event that has practically gone unnoticed but was a turning point in the O'Rourke clan’s history and the history of Ireland and England. This event is the wreckage of 25 or so of King Philip of Spain’s fleet off the West coast of Ireland in 1588. With Spanish and Irish music and passion, this musical/opera could not go wrong.
On many levels it's a love story. It tells of the love of the Irish for their culture and land, the love for their children and their love for each other. It is romance and passion on the backdrop of conflict. This story gives homage to the fallen, to the men and women who have fought for their independence against dire odds and have given their lives in the name of freedom. In this way it explores Indigenous, colonisation and power issues all of which are relevant today.
Although taken from history, it contains supernatural and fictitious events. No Irish story would be complete without some paganism and superstition. In short it's like Les Miserables meets Game Of Thrones.
Whilst writing the music I was transported to another realm. I could hear the music like it was emerging from my bones, like it was being whispered in my ear. The main themes arrived in a frenzy of writing and visualising that lasted 3 months.
These first shows in Australia are our showcase and will lead to bigger and better performances worldwide. This is VERY important story to many Irish. Ideally I would love this show to be performed in Ireland and England.