Bears in Space

In 2012, I was sitting front row at the annual fashion show of Trinity College’s Fashion Society. I’ll never forget it but not because of the impeccable styling or the effortless gliding of the models down the catwalk but because of the two hosts; Jack Gleeson and Aaron Heffernan.

At the time, those names meant nothing to me. I was fairly certain that they didn’t really know much about fashion but they kept the audience enthralled with their quick wit and natural ability to point out the other’s flaws.

Today, Jack and Aaron are very accomplished actors in their own right but are also two of the founders of Collapsing Horse Theatre Company. Having been incredibly impressed by their production of ‘Monster/Clock’ two years ago, I was eagerly anticipating their return to the stage.

‘Bears in Space’ opens in the Project Arts Centre this evening for a limited run before migrating to Scotland for the theatre company’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival debut. To entice you further, I spoke with Cameron Maccauley about his very important role in the production.

Bears in SpaceCameron, this is your first time to work with Collapsing Horse Theatre Company but what is your official title for this production?

I suppose I would a performer and the composer. I’m acting in it but I’ve also written the music and simultaneously perform the keyboard and the guitar during the show.

That doesn’t sound like an easy feat. What has been the most challenging aspect of your role so far?

The cues have been a challenge to become familiar with. Previously, I’ve experience of both acting and playing music but doing the two at the same time is quite a tall order as you really have to think in two different spheres at the same time. It’s timing the cues exactly and maintaining the vigour, the humour and forward motion while being accurate on the instrument – that’s tricky!

As a newcomer to the Collapsing Horse Theatre Company, did any of your friends or family raise their eyebrows at the idea that you would be working on a puppet show?

Not really as I think the idea of a puppet show has transformed in the past couple of years. For example, Aaron (Heffernan – founding member of Collapsing Horse and puppeteer) takes his inspiration from Avenue Q and that show really dispels any archaic notions people may have of puppets or the art of puppetry. No doubt though that my neighbours back home may be slightly surprised by it but my friends and family are very much on board.

What do you expect the audience’s reactions to be from tonight’s preview of ‘Bears in Space’?

Our approach to this project was for us to create a very funny piece of theatre that is both aesthetically pleasing but one still which has an interesting storyline that wasn’t sacrificed in order to be funny. In terms of inspiration, we would be huge fans of The Mighty Boosh and Pyjama Man, who are all incredibly funny performers who incidentally, probably had their beginnings at Edinburgh as well.

With performances such as Monster/Clock and Human Child, the Dublin audience has almost grown up with Collapsing Horse Theatre Company but are you anyway anxious or concerned about your reception at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

To be honest with you, not particularly – I think the nature of the production’s inception has a huge part to play in that. We’re all mates and because we have worked so collaboratively, it doesn’t feel that high stakes. I don’t think that there’s any anxiety about how we wish this to be received, I think we’re quite earnestly doing a very good show, attempting to make the audience’s experience as funny and interesting as possible.

Going across to Edinburgh, with Scottish audiences being able to tie your colleague Jack Gleeson to such a huge project as HBO’s Game of Thrones, do you think audiences’ expectations will be higher for ‘Bears in Space’ because of that?

We really want this show to fail or succeed on its own merits – preferably succeed! I think it’s inevitable that people will tie Jack to Game of Thrones but he is also a brilliant comedic performer and I think that those audiences who may expect something of the ilk of Thrones will leave ‘Bears in Space’ very pleasantly surprised.

I have no doubt that they will. As it is just hours until the curtain goes up for the first time, what has been your highlight of the production thus far?

It sounds strange but it was that initial moment when everyone was back together in the same room again. From the moment that we got going really, it just felt like a healthy dynamic. We all laugh at similar things, we work really well together and let’s hope it bares fruit!

With only three Dublin performances, I couldn’t recommend a visit to the Project Arts Centre more! To find out more information about the show, just click here. Also, you should follow their inaugural Edinburgh journey through Twitter and Facebook. Tell them I said hello!

Written by

Sinéad Burke is an academic and a writer with an obsessive interest in fashion, education and 'Extraordinary Women'. She is an ambassador for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the National Women's Council of Ireland.