Eva’s Echo – a Galway based theatre company giving a voice to the voiceless

Galway is widely known for its prospering Arts and Culture scene, which brings flocks of visitors to the city every year. It is a city of great opportunity, it’s only requirement being creativity and optimism.

Over the decades, many creative minds have come to Galway. One of these is playwright and actress Hazel Doolan. Clearly a vocation, she subsequently went on to create opportunity for others, by founding Eva’s Echo.

Eva’s Echo is a Galway-based theatre company, producing new creative works expressing the modern soul of Ireland, aiming to give a voice to the voiceless and highlight the challenges in Irish culture today through theatre.

Speaking of her love for theatre, Hazel says: “I went to Youth Theatre for about five years and then ever since I just knew that I wanted to study acting and drama.”

Born in Athlone, Hazel went to ATU Sligo to study drama, graduating in 2015, focussing on method acting and physical theatre work. After graduation she went on to do a bit of work on TV, including being an extra on Hardy Bucks show. Hazel also took part in an immersive, site-specific theatre production in 2016, in Sligo jail, directed by Bob Kelly.

Hazel explains how for her fourth-year assignment she had to write a scene set in Ireland for her Irish theatre module. She took inspiration from her daily life for her writing. “It was the time when Tinder was really taking off and all that, and I had friends on Tinder and that sort of thing and so I just wrote a scene just in relation to that,” she mentions.

Shortly after, there was an open mic night in one of the bars in Sligo and she decided to perform her scene there. When looking for someone to perform with her, her first thought was Rena Bryson. They had met briefly previously as they were both students at ATU Sligo. After working together for the first time, she knew they had something good, recalling how “after rehearsing we just looked at each other like what happened here”.

EVA’S ECHO

Hazel moved to Galway in 2016 to expand on her theatre experience as Galway was the “hub for theatre”. Rena also happened to make her way to the city for the same reasons. After not seeing many opportunities at the time, they decided to just create their own. That is how Eva’s Echo was founded.

The first performance Eva’s Echo put on was an extended version of that rehearsed reading of the scene Hazel wrote, which she turned into a play called “Match”.

They took it to the Galway Fringe Festival in 2017 and won the Galway Fringe Best Emerging Artists Award. Hazel explains: “Our Mission is to portray modern day Ireland through theatre and have it accessible to as many people as possible, covering themes such as LGBTQ+ issues, hidden homelessness, homelessness, the housing crises, women’s issues and such.”

 

 

Performance of Jungle Door

COVID

During Covid, theatre was massively impacted, but Hazel didn’t let that bring her down.

Hazel says: “We just kept creating work as much as possible, just with the hopes of being able to host in person theatre again.”

They hosted play readings online and streamed performances from the Town Hall Theatre. She looks back on the first time she walked onto the stage in the theatre and all she saw were empty seats “with those ‘don’t sit here’ labels on all of them” recalling it feeling bizarre.

Hazel also collaborated with RTE and the Town Hall Theatre on a film titled “Bringing It All Back Home”, covering the story of those in assisted living, which opened other avenues for them as well.

 

Hazel and Rena performing Jungle Door

JUNGLE DOOR

Their most recent play “Jungle Door” was first staged back in 2018, as part of the Where We Are Now LGBT+ theatre festival in Sligo. Hazel’s character in the play is a bisexual woman, who is struggling with being accepted in the LGBTQ+ community.

Hazel explains: “She wasn’t straight enough to be in the straight community or gay enough to be in the gay community, so she had that kind of inner struggle within herself and just the expectations of beauty standards and all.” The play covers all topics from the previously mentioned LGBTQ+ issues, to beauty standards and the housing crisis in Ireland.

This year Hazel had the opportunity to attend the Edinburgh International Film Festival, to perform “Jungle Door”.

In awe over the scope of the festival she compares it to “the Galway Arts Festival but on steroids”. She reminisces about how much she learned and how many new people in the industry she met.

“It is challenging enough planning to take a show on tour to another country and to bring it to somewhere with a grand scale of the likes of Edinburgh it’s always a challenge, but we learned so much from it. We had such a great close-knit team as well and I couldn’t have imagined going over to Edinburgh with any other team, like they’re just fantastic. We’re hoping to go back to it again in the future, next year, but as audience members this time,” she reveals.

 

Read more Galway stories here.

 

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