18th December 2020

2021 – A Year Of Infinite Hope

This year has been a psychic rollercoaster, and while there were a lot of positives, we are all ready to step off the 2020 ride. At THISISPOPBABY, our hope for the future is that we don’t go back to normal. Our hope at is that we use this pause as a catalyst for change – to recognise the injustices in our society and tackle them head on (end Direct Provision!), to keep pushing for social equity, fairness and equality. Our hope is for the lights to come back on: stage lights in theatres, strobe lights on dance floors and have you got a light? in smoking areas. Our hope is for the most meaningful coming together of our lifetime. Coming together to talk to each other, care for each other, to build community and use our communal force for good. Let’s champion art and creativity, fight for a better wages (pay our student nurses!) and lower rents, build more houses and less hotels, reverse the Disneyfication of Dublin and restore her to a city that people might actually be able to live and thrive in. 2021 offers hope of healing, it offers hope of a cultural, social and societal renaissance, it offers hope of a fresh start – but it’s up to us to make hope happen.

The world only spins forward.
– Angel’s In America

We asked sixteen artists, theatre makers, and cultural instigators for their hopes for 2021 – and maybe it’s the time of year, or the year that’s in it, but their responses got us a bit teary, and left us very very hopeful…

Una Mullally, Writer

Are you ready to manifest utopia? The change yet to come lives in all of our imaginations. It is not enough to resist, we must recreate. Get ready to emigrate from a toxic state of mind, and jettison the anxiety-inducing rhythms that are not our own but imposed upon us by broken structures and dreary gatekeepers. No more internalising someone else’s pressures. No more burdens. No more stress. The lust for thriving lies within all of our links: the space between. On New Year’s Eve 00:00, leave the ceantar, enter the altar, let it go, and begin again.

Rosaleen McDonagh, Playwright

2020, a moment of silence, a reflection. A chance to mend fractured relationships. In darker moments we were forbidden to smell, touch or embrace. From a window, a doorway, a gate the vision was vague and hazy. Bad Zoom calls, text messages that were awkward and brittle. 2021 armoured with hope. The plan is to be ready, the hair, the clothes, the make-up, the perfume, the ticket, the Luas, the stop, the lobby.The auditorium, the nods, the smiles, the enthusiasm, the gossip, the journey into rehearsals. 

Alma Kelliher, Composer

My hope is that we can sing together again; to gather in a space, lift our heads high and raise our voices as one. We have so much to release after this year, so many months of holding ourselves and just hanging on. And knowing that singing is currently a dangerous activity breaks my heart a little. To me, nothing is more cathartic than making music together and there’s huge potential for healing. Whether on the dance floor, in the kitchen or on a stage, I hope with all my heart that we will sing again soon.

Tara Flynn, Writer/Performer

My main hope for 2021 is to be able to see people again. Properly see them, hug them, be together. Spontaneity! Messing! Remember them? I want to get back on stage, telling stories, everyone buzzing in one room. I want to make people laugh. And cry. I want to be made to do those things myself. I don’t think, as performers, we ever took live audiences for granted, but for sure we never will again. I think 2021 will see us back in our natural habitat, with an added layer of gratitude and relief. And that will be a beautiful thing.

Felispeaks, Poet/Performer/Playwright

My Hope for 2021 is that it brings new and beautiful things for everyone; especially the artistic, creative community. I hope success and happiness favours everyone working hard creating art to find themselves, to serve their community or to build legacies. I wish everyone of us an incredible adventure and most importantly, a safe one next year!.

Deirdre Molloy, Actor/Director/Producer

Cruinnithe… the irish word for gatherings and also for meetings. Working remotely has been tough. Existing remotely has been tougher. My hope for 2021 is for many cruinnithe. Sitting around a table with colleagues bouncing ideas off each other, moving around a dance floor with friends bouncing energy off each other, striding through festival fields to bask in the joy of experiencing live performance together. Being deep in a hot crowd in a dark sweaty space united in beats. Creating together, deep in the collective arms of my tribe. Exchanging energy, thoughts, hopes, dreams, love and hugs. Bring. It. On.

Claire O’Reilly, Director/Maker

You’re working on something apparently unsolvable. You’re frustrated, tired. Your head is a hostile polyester orb. You want to stop, but you know you can’t, and this lapse in hedonic will makes you resent your situation further. You go back over the details in your mind, repeating the same dissonant elements again and again.

And then. 

(No one knows how this happens, but it does. It does happen.)

One of the elements looks distinctly different. Recognisable, definitely, but confident. Playful. Attractive. The other elements fancy it, and so they should. They edge close, gently at first, but the frenzy of connection is too seductive. They rush, grab, lick, bite, squeeze, tremble – there’s hurt and compromise, yes, but there’s healing and triumph too. 

The idea-Pangaea emerges solid, clear, fertile. There’s trauma from the collision, but there’s support too. You feel the warm ripple of satisfaction dissolve the tension in your body. You enjoy your Eureka moment. You have hope.

Cian Austin Jesus Kinsella, Performer

I was meant to see Diana Ross this year, twice! That didn’t happen and I’m fine. But I’m bored feeling fine, I want the exhilaration of seeing Diana Ross.I’ve been humbled, I have a new understanding of how much I need people, love people, love how ready we are to abandon reality and control for exhilaration on the dance floor, on the stage, in someones else’s arms. My sense of self importance has been humbled, I’m the sum of the people in my life, I can bring it to the party but its not a party for one. Fuck normal, fuck the new formal and lets keep trying to make the world a better and more beautiful place. Love to all.

Rachael Gilkey, Director of Programming and Education Irish Arts Center New York

A lot of people are reminding us that its ok to be just getting by this year, that getting by is enough.  But don’t forget, even if you just managed to get up almost every day, or most days, or a reasonable number of days (which we can all agree can just be defined by you), you did so in 2020 amidst isolation, job loss/anxiety, civil unrest, collective trauma, and a pandemic. So no matter what, you fucking leveled up this year. It doesn’t matter if your level up vibe is more Ciara anthem or RPG, you can choose to own that energy and take it into 2021. And use that level up to turn outward, look around you, and carry someone else across the threshold of 2021 with you, someone who might just need that support a bit more.  

2020 has shown so many more people what it is like to feel powerless. It asked us to learn more about ourselves, individually and collectively, and our own position in the world, and to empathize with the position in the world held by those we do not always see. 2021 is going to be about putting that hard-earned knowledge to use, to reinforce the rungs of the ladder rather than pull it up behind us. And, when we have to, build entirely new ladders, because we can and because we must.

Cian O’Brien, Artistic Director, Project Arts Centre 

While 2020 was not without its challenges, the forced pause created space to think, to reimagine how we use our spaces, to create different opportunities for artists and start to think about new audiences. The silver linings I’m taking forward are hope and bravery. ♡

TKB, Actor/Writer

I hope that Dublin doesn’t just get back to herself. I hope that Dublin becomes a whole new woman altogether. Revitalised, replenished and maybe even a few highlights or something. 

I hope that all her creaky boards are threaded on again. I hope that all her music festivals are bounced around again. I hope that all her dusty Guinness taps are put to work again. 

I hope that Dublin emerges from the ashes of 2020 and is even more stunning than before, like Meryl Streep after she visits that weird woman in Death Becomes Her. 

When Dublin does get back on her feet, which I know she will, I hope we don’t forget what she went through and I hope we don’t forget to STOP, take her in and tell that she’s gorgeous once in a while.

Philip Connaughton, Choreographer/Performer

I wanna take the good from this year and learn from the bad. I’ll take with me the confidence that I’ll continue to find beauty and inspiration in the basic and banal, that I learn more from laughter than from tears, that Dublin is my one true love, and that I don’t care who’s watching me (or not)-I’m dancing anyway.

Yvon Bonenfant PhD, Head of Department, Theatre, UCC

I am a person of the voice. What I hope for, what I crave, what I long for, what I miss, my purest joy, is to experience the luscious vocal timbres of the wide variety of human beings that there are out there, with my whole, living, breathing body: ears, skin, everything that perceives real, touching, physical, human vibration. I am eager to be swaddled again in the sonic fabric of human contact when we’re in the same room, not the pale shadow of voice that comes through video calls and phones. I want this for me, for you, and for all of us. And as someone who is a parent, I hope, hope, hope and wish, that our children wrestle, grapple, grab, get dirty, roll on the grass, argue, somersault with each other: fearlessly. I hope that their deep craving for social play reanimates their bodily worlds, their friends, and that we all take inspiration from the way they bounce back into social life like infinitely powered springs. 2021 will bring back the social body. Bring it on.

Peter Daly, Actor/Playwright/Director

2020 sucked balls. 
(And not in the good way.) 
But I didn’t lose hope. 
How could you when there was always a little bit of kindness to be found.
Or good humour. 
Or originality. 
Or creativity.
The latest bit of bad news would be countered by someone’s generosity. 
Or strong-will. 
Or bravery.
Or fuck-that-shit-edness.
2021 is not presenting itself as a clean slate.
It’s not going to wipe 2020 from our memories.
It doesn’t necessarily promise to be everything its predecessor was not.
And that’s ok as far as I’m concerned.
Because I know there’ll be more kindness.
And I’m looking forward to 2021’s brand of fuck that shit-edness.

Emmett Scanlon, Architect

I am hope-full of hope for these ordinary things.
As from there we’ll again make magic.
The cold yellow lines inside a hot Dublin bus.
The expectation of an unfamiliar room.
Being the first to arrive.
Being late.
The thumping anonymity of a crowded street.
Spontaneous consumption.
The anticipation of the hug.
Dancing, eyes right.
Being the first to leave.
The syncopated breathing of a crowd transfixed.
The sound of a Dyson air blade.
Speaking with no dependence on words.
Coaxing strangers into smiling.
The bluebell haze in the orange wood.
Stealing his popcorns in the darkness, one by one.
The curvilinear steel of Kent Station, Cork. 
Comfortable silence.
Getting lost.
Getting home.
Singing from my belly down our back.
Watching left-handed people draw.
Tracing the biography of found objects.
Loitering too long, in too lonely buildings.
Opening the doors.
[Indistinct chatter]
Any sort of welcome at all.

Fionnuala Gygax, Actor/Theatre-maker

We never know what a year will bring….A leap into the unknown; into possibilities, revelations, dreams, the unexpected. 

We make to-do list, manifest dreams, cradle secret desires shared only with our notebooks for fear of them not happening.

2020 has felt like a turbulent swim towards 2021, gasping for air and wanting to get there before 2021 was ready to have us.  

We fought the waves, drifted with the current, wanted to turn back but knew we had to keep going. 

And we made it, in the end. 

The hope is in the journey.

And now we get ready to step into another sea, and we’ll make it through again. 

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