Macnas, the name itself means ‘joyful abandonment’. It is a name given to the young spring lambs, which can be seen every spring jumping and hopping energetically around their little stonewalled fields in Connemara on the west coast of Ireland.
Very appropriate for a theatre company who can be seen in joyful abandonment on the streets of Galway and elsewhere, every year.
Macnas was founded in 1986 in Galway. Since then Macnas has established itself as one of the most exciting energies in the Arts in Ireland. Macnas brings together a blend of imagination, passion, wit and self-confidence in a variety of settings: in theatres, on streets, in school and in communities.
Macnas first came to national attention in Ireland when a 20 metre long representation of Gulliver was washed up on a beach in Dublin, Ireland’s capital city, as part of the Dublin Millennium celebrations in 1988. They reinforced their position as a force to be reckoned with in the Arts in Ireland with a succession of carnival-style parades for the Galway Arts Festival, which attracts huge numbers of people to Galway each July.
There is now a strong international dimension to Macnas’ work. Macnas has performed in more than 20 countries including Ireland, Britain, most of Europe, the USA and South America both in it’s own right bringing shows, parades and celebrations and alongside U2 as part of the Zooropa ’93 world tour.
The development of Macnas’ indoor theatre work has been no less successful. It’s epic productions, Tain, Buile Shuibhne/Sweeny, Balor, Rhymes from the Ancient Mariner, Diamonds in the Soil and The Lost Days of Ollie Deasy have attracted new audiences into theatre spaces with their combination of physical performance and stunning visuals.Macnas has twice won Best Production at the Dublin Theatre Festival while Tom Conroy won an Irish Theatre Award in 1999 for Best Design for the Macnas/Galway Arts Festival co-production of Patrick McCabe’s The Dead School.
In 1999 and 2000, Macnas performed at the St.Patrick’s Festival, Dublin creating a site-specific outdoor theatre shows based on ‘The Odyssey’ in collaboration with Els Comediants.
Macnas started the new Millennium with a bang by simultaneously performing in Times Square, New York, Merrion Square, Dublin and Eyre Square, Galway as part of each city’s Millennium Celebrations. Macnas combines its international touring of shows and street theatre spectacles with a continuing commitment to its role in developing Community Arts celebrations and training in Ireland. With a workforce in excess of one hundred and five made up of performers, animateurs, designers, technicians and administrators, Macnas is involved in a variety of projects in schools, with people with disability and with Community Arts groups all over Ireland passing on the expertise learned by this unique company over an ever evolving fifteen years.