In association with Pan Pan Theatre Company and supported by Arts Council of Ireland, Fighting Blindness and NCBI, My Dad’s Blind, the winner of Best Production at the Dublin Fringe Festival Awards 2018 is coming to the Civic Theatre, Tallaght. Centering on a dysfunctional relationship between a blind father and his sighted daughter, My Dad’s Blind uses audio recordings, irreverent comedy and real life memories to explore a father daughter relationship and all the awkward, embarrassing and ridiculous ways they struggle to navigate a sighted world with a guide dog that’s just had a stroke. Starring Steve Blount (Game of Thrones – HBO/Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope – RTÉ/Minding Frankie – Breda Cashe Productions) and Anna Sheils-McNamee (Vikings – HISTORY/The Importance of Nothing – Pan Pan Theatre Comapny). The show is directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley.  Newsgroup recently chatted to artist Anna Sheils-McNamee about upcoming show My Dad’s Blind at the Civic Theatre.

Following on from Dublin Fringe Festival awards, are you looking forward to touring all over Ireland in September? I can’t wait!  I’m looking forward to seeing how audiences throughout the country react, especially to some of the darker blind jokes.  Thanks to Fighting Blindness we have audio description on every show on the tour which I’m hoping will encourage people with visual impairment to come along.

Anna commented on the show “Growing up people told me my Dad was “amazing”, which didn’t make any sense to me.  He’s pretty boring – he works a 9-5 and watches Coronation Street in the evenings.  I soon realised they were only saying this because he was blind.  I wrote this play in response to that.  However, this show ain’t no Ted Talk! Imagine Lauren from The Catherine Tate show (“…am I bothered…”) was a Kardashian and grew up with an epileptic guide dog – then you’ll be closer to the tone of this show.”

You say people told whilst growing up your father was amazing, tell me a little bit about your father. Dad is pretty boring! He works a 9-5 as a physio and watches Coronation Street in the evenings.  He has a dark sense of humour which I definitely inherited.  He always made sure we never felt sorry for him because he was blind, which was pretty impossible anyway as I have never known him to see, so his blindness is the norm to me. He once did a ballroom dance competition which is probably the most remarkable thing he’s done blind.  I think he thought he was Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.

What encouraged you to take a different tone whilst writing this play? I wanted to humanise disability.  There seems to be this attitude, around disability, that if you have a disability you’re de-sexualised and treated like a child, or as if you can do no wrong.  I hope that people come away from this show realizing that it doesn’t matter if you have a disability, everyone can be a dickhead from time to time..

Tell me about the support being received from Fighting Blindness and NCBI? And what you would like to take from this partnership? Fighting Blindness are sponsoring all of our audio description on the tour as well as supporting the marketing for the show.  NCBI are our official partner and are helping us to reach out to visually impaired communities throughout the country.  My intention in establishing these partnerships, other than all of the amazing support, is to form a stronger connection between the visually impaired charity sector and the arts.  There are 50,000 people who are blind or visually impaired in Ireland, the fact that more touring companies don’t market to this audience is mad as theatre shows already struggle to get bums on seats.  I hope this show will encourage more touring shows to offer audio description.

If the national tour proves successful, would you consider an additional tour in 2020? Absolutely, we’ll go wherever people want the show!  My ambition is to tour My Dad’s Blind to London and internationally.

The tour starts in Tallaght from the 3rd – 7th of September, and moves to Galway, Carlow, Mayo, Cavan, Wexford and many more locations.  For the first time ever, Audio Description will be available at every performance on the tour. Audio Description on the national tour is sponsored by Fighting Blindness. Fighting Blindness fund world-leading research into treatments and cures for blindness, while caring for people and families through counselling and peer to peer support services. See www.civictheatre.ie for tickets.

My Dad’s Blind Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1HnepHy9Kc