Frank McMullan's blog

My post-retirement blog adventures

EI staff magazine article: Silver Stars

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My work magazine, Interact, asked me to submit an article on my involvement in Silver Stars for its summer/autumn issue. Here is what I’ve submitted:

Silver Stars shine on the international stage

New York rehearsal: Neil Watkins, Frank McMullan, Erich Keller and Paraic Cullen

In 2008, almost by chance, I got involved in a musical project as part of the Bealtaine Festival which celebrates creativity in older age.  Commissioned by Bealtaine, Silver Stars is a song cycle by singer/songwriter Seán Millar in collaboration with Brokentalkers modern theatre producers, Gary Keegan and Feidlim Cannon.  It tells the stories of older Irish and Irish-American gay men’s lives.  The song I sing, “I Love You More than God”, is the hit of the show.

In 2009, Silver Stars was invited to stage in the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival.  From this the show was invited to New York in January last as part of the Under the Radar Theater Festival at the Public Theater, off Broadway.

I was on holiday in Peru over last Christmas and New Year and – instead of coming directly back to Ireland – I diverted through New York instead.  My jet-setting was almost of EI overseas office proportions!  As my annual leave was already used up, HR very kindly granted me an unpaid leave of absence for my once-in-a-lifetime New York stage debut.

Other international productions include Centre Culturel Irlandais in Collège des Irlandais in Paris in June last, the weekend after I retired, and Tampereen Teatterikesä in Finland this August.  Further possibilities could take the show to New Zealand early in 2011 – potentially requiring me to take a break from my proposed post-retirement adventures in South America.  Culture Ireland is a major financial sponsor for Silver Stars.

Media coverage for the show includes a New York Times article; France 24 and TV3 interviews; an RTÉ Radio 1 documentary; and many positive reviews and articles in Irish media and internet blogs.

It has been enormously rewarding and empowering to be a member of the cast of Silver Stars.  I’m very chuffed to be involved in it!  It has been a delight to see it grow from its Bealtaine beginnings into something worthy of international audiences.  My retirement has been taken in a very unexpected direction indeed.  Boring it ain’t!!

Irish Independent, Colin Murphy, 26 December 2009:
Good moments of theatre are like a stomach punch: they leave you reeling. “I love you more than God,” in Silver Stars, was a line to suck the air from your lungs, making for a moment of theatre of breathtaking insight and artistry.

The Feminist Spectator blog, Jill Dolan, 31 January 2010:
Seeing these men gather, and watching their friends celebrate them, helped me recall that community-based theatre like Silver Stars is so important to people’s lives, not just for the stories it shares but for how it provides an opportunity for people like these ten men to stand within those stories, to justify and take pride in the lives they present in ways that few other social rituals provide. I was proud to be there.

The Irish Times, Peter Cawley, 16 December 2009:
We have ways of breaking your heart, Seán Millar’s moving song cycle, Silver Stars, seemed to say in Brokentalkers’ gently mesmerising production. And what ways.


Written by Frank McMullan

25 July 2010 at 17:14

Posted in Silver Stars

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