Playwright Alice Malseed is under the spotlight
Playwright Alice Malseed is under the spotlight, having been awarded an international residency award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council to travel to India. Alice used her four week placement at Ramgarh Shekhawati in Rajasthan, to research and develop her new play ‘Goddess’. Set in present-day Belfast the story will re-imagine powerful Goddess figures from Hinduism and Celtic cultures.
During my time on the residency in India, I was constantly inspired. I tried to absorb everything, to look with an open mind, and to ask questions and keep my eyes open. I was amazed by the colours, the patterns, the smells, the fabrics, the people, the food, the sounds. It was a complete sensory overload – an attack. This space of attack and discomfort is where I’m most excited as a theatre maker.
Ramgarh is a small town in rural Rajasthan, and spending about 4 weeks here was very powerful and informative. Every day offered something different – a trip to a temple to see about 1000 people queuing to see some a ritual involving a snake and a priest, or seeing women taking a bride to her groom’s home as part of a wedding procession, or hosting drama workshops for school girls, to visiting a community college, and driving through the forest seeing deer and other wildlife. The location itself was a site of wonderment. So much beauty and so much ruin side by side.
The most wonderful thing about the residency in Vedaaranya was that the room and house itself were incredibly tranquil and peaceful. It was the perfect location for a writer to digest all the multitudinous senses and experiences that were happening outside. I could shut my door and obtain a sense of tranquillity that I didn’t see or feel elsewhere in India. I used the time to create a new piece of work inspired by Indian and Celtic goddesses and femininity. The piece is set in contemporary Belfast, but there’s been a sort of apocalypse and a matriarchy established. It is still in development – I’ve been really busy since I came back from India that it’s been put on the back burner. I hope to get the second draft completed by Spring of this year and then I’ll approach directors and companies to hopefully get it produced.
One of the most valuable part of the residency was being afforded time to think and to write. I’ve been really busy since I came back, but the trip gave me so much inspiration to drive my work deeper, and to think about bigger, global issues, but from a tangible perspective.