2024 Arts and Minds Festival - Nilly and Nullius with Donal O'Kelly

Saturday, May 11, 2024 - 16:30 to 18:00
John Hume Building, Maynooth University

Nilly and Nullius by Theatre Maker and Actor Donal O’Kelly

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MU Arts and Minds Festival Writer-in-Residence Donal O’Kelly reads excerpts from his current work-in-progress exploring modern border control doctrine and its tangled roots.
After several years of digging with a short-handle shovel in the backyard of his late mother’s reformatory convent in the north-west of Ireland, Nilly is amazed one drizzly day when he breaks through into an ancient underground bunker. The rising stench of wealth amassment mania envelopes him in its saturating mist and he slumps to the sludge. When he awakes, cautiously aware of the basic tenets of the National Monuments Act, he quietly excavates alone, with his three psyches, the extensive cave-works he names Nullius, and documents in diary-style the people he encounters there, alive, dead and imaginary. Every now and then, he reaches up and manages to grasp one of the writhing roots hanging from some flourishing plant of a fertility grove above, cuts it and sucks the glistening pulp for border security savvy.

About the artist:
Donal O’Kelly has been a playwright and actor for four decades, touring his solo shows such as Catalpa, Bat The Father Rabbit The Son, Fionnuala and Hairy Jaysus globally. Other plays include The Cambria, Little Thing Big Thing, Asylum!Asylum! The Adventures of the Wet Señor, Vive La and The Dogs. He’s now focussing on writing creative non-fiction. In 2021 he won The Dock Writing Time award. He is writing a book on the origins of the Direct Provision system of accommodation for people in need of international refuge. He was a member of Aosdána 2007-2010.

The MU Arts & Minds Festival Writer-in-Residence programme is supported by Creative Ireland and Kildare County Council.