Performance

  • Solo Performance

    Siobhan in Performance

    ‘Moving, funny and inspiring – a rare combination.’

    I first discovered the joy of performing my poetry, to a live audience, about fifteen years ago and since then there’s been no stopping me! Whether that be at a literary festival, in a theatre, a tent, the upstairs room of a pub, the salubrious drawing room of a country hotel in Ireland, at an Arts centre in London, on the radio or in a field – it doesn’t really matter where, to me, what matters is the wonderful, vital experience of live performance, the immediacy of connecting with an audience through words, poems and stories.

    How we see our world is coloured and influenced by our personal stories, by the collective myths and stories of our cultures and by the stories and beliefs of the ancestors still resonating in our world.

    I am particularly drawn to the stories we have told (or not told) about women, especially about the spiritual life of women and the images/stories of a Divine Feminine, often a banished, repressed or vilified Divine Feminine.

    I often find myself using humour to explore these ideas. One of my on going pieces – ‘The Biddies’ is a series of short, funny pieces, in the voices of Maggie and Mary, two middle aged Irish women inventing their own religion…

    I perform on my own and sometimes in collaboration with other artists and musicians and always it is the live experience of the Spoken Word that is at the heart and centre of my work.

    I have been called moving, funny, inspiring, warm, challenging, magical – I just know that when I am performing my poetry I feel at home and alive.

    You can watch some live performance on this page and hear some poems on the poetry page and find out more about where I have performed on the About me page and read what other people think under some responses. I hope you enjoy the poems and I would be very happy to discuss performing at your event/venue/festival, please contact me if you would like more information.

  • Mouth of The Cave

    MOTC Poster

    ‘Prepare to be swept along by a swirling, heady evocation of the joy, ecstasy, existential excitement and libidinous energy submerged in us for so long and now prompted as possibility by this explosive playfest of word crafting’ – Halifax Irish festival

    ‘Very inspirational, hilarious and touching. An enlightening experience.’

    Irish Poet Siobhán Mac Mahon, working with Musician Sabrina Piggott and directed by Sarah Hope creates a passionate and provocative piece of Performance Poetry, interweaving word, sound, music and drumming. Invoking the magic, myths and mayhem of the ancient Irish Goddesses and their modern day counterparts.

    MOC Tinakilly house Siobhan and Sabrina

    The Mouth of the Cave explores our mystical, cultural and spiritual connection to the earth, the banishment of the Divine feminine and the resultant repression of a joyful sensuality.

    Roll away the stone, the Divine Feminine is awakening, emerging form the dark cave, Irish Goddesses are roaming the land, unleashing a holy host of untamed voices…

    • Hear how Rita is teaching the Pope ecstatic Tantra…
    • Meet the Biddies who are inventing a new religion…
    • Tremble before the fierce truth of the Goddess Morrigan…
    • Listen to the lovely Goddess Danu inviting you deep into the Holy Woods…

    The ordinary and the extraordinary meet where the veil between the worlds is at it’s thinnest – at The Mouth of the Cave

    Performances and Audiences

    The Mouth of the Cave was originally developed with the assistance of a grant from Arts Council England. The poetry is written and performed by Siobhan Mac Mahon (originally from Dublin) and the music is written and performed by Sabrina Piggott (originally from Cork). Both artists now live in Yorkshire.

    Siobhan and Sabrina have recently toured The Mouth of the Cave very successfully in Yorkshire in Arts Centres, Literary Festivals, small theatres and more informal café/bar settings, including; Ilkley Literaure Festival, Morley literature festival, Leeds Irish Festival, Seven Arts centre, Leeds, Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds, Halifax Irish festival. They have also brought the piece to Ireland, premiering it at the Wicklow Arts Festival. The response from the audiences (as well as arts professionals/programmers) has been overwhelmingly positive, The piece appealing to people who would not normally count themselves as poetry lovers as well as to a more conventional poetry audience, to both young and older people and to men as well as women. Some responses:

    The Poet, The Musician and The Director

    We perform The Mouth of the Cave in two sets of approx. 40 mins. each and use projected images and pre-recorded sound or it can be condensed down into an hours performance with or without projected images.

  • Longer Review of ‘The Mouth of the Cave’


    The profoundly mystical and at once very human richness of an age obscured for centuries by a drab and dreary modernity and seeming lost forever is discovered for us again by Siobhán MacMahon in ‘The Mouth of the Cave’. Her poetry, bold and assertive, with flaunting and unashamed panache, wallows in delightful word-music that celebrates the compelling immanence within each of us which is nature’s awesome, yet intimate and almost lyrical presence at the root of our being.

    Under the artistic direction of Sarah Hope, the performance is at once provocative and challenging, as it recovers the anima, the power of the woman through versification colourfully dramatic and some times humorous. Before a backdrop of mood catching imagery with heavy symbolic content, the poet structures an elaborate but controlled fluidity of linguistic expression. Couched progressively in carefully crafted pieces, the ancient myth of the Celtic Goddess is invoked as offering a healing and restorative source of well-being. Images of vibrant sensuality abound as the poet deconstructs patriarchal religiosity to allow the free flow of human feminine physicality, fecund and creative to demonstrate its power, at times verging on the bawdy, but never losing sight of the seriousness of our involvement, our immersion in consanguine accord with the earth – an osmosis that paradoxically issues in experiences of the spiritual.

    Signified in her performance is the mystical heritage of Ireland crying out to be rediscovered and re-appropriated as our own. Esther De Waal, the specialist writer on Celtic spirituality, wrote of ‘The Church We Have Lost’, in which she laments the disappearance of a spiritual heritage the essence of which was life lived in complete oneness with the natural world, in which that world was held in deep reverence and respect. Not a pantheistic deification this, but a profound sense of the noumenon, encountered in and through the biosphere of which we are part; in that sacramental meeting is met the Other, closer to us than we know.

    The poet in iconoclastic mood takes time during her performance to demolish some Manichean doctrines that have served, under patriarchal hegemony, to smother the emergent power of the woman. In her reflection on the ritual of ‘Churching’ centuries of ignorance and superstition collapse in the repetitive uttering of the simple word ‘No’. The sweet songs, guitar and bodhran playing of Sabrina Piggott punctuating the poetic performance are a delightful accompaniment complimenting Siobhán MacMahon’s tour de force.

    Prepare to be swept along by a swirling, heady evocation of the joy, ecstasy, existential excitement and libidinous energy submerged in us for so long and now prompted as possibility by this explosive playfest of word crafting, a declaration for Life by a very talented poet who gives us a liberating glimpse of an alternate way of being.

    The work is a deeply moral assertion of the sanctity of all life and the planet that supports it. It resonates with contemporary relevance as we attempt to establish some sacred ground, a dimension that will offer us a place to stand and know ourselves as people of the Spirit. I was astonished to find myself consumed by sobbing, and then again attempting to stifle a guffaw during this performance, both sponsored by poetry that highlighted some of the incongruities of our little humanity; the words at times reaching into a place within me that reverberated with an echoing recognition of my own mystery as human, alive, sensual, funny and ultimately beautiful and if me then everybody and everything else.

    Joe Sheeran
    Bradford
    July 2008

    Download this Review of Mouth of the Cave in a new window

  • Past projects

    Past projects
    I really enjoy collaborating and experimenting with other writers, artists and musicians to bring poetry and words alive. Some past projects have been:

    • Voices of Women – I set up a six month project working with 10 female poets to explore their rich and culturally diverse voices through word, sound, movement and chorus. Performed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and at the Chapel Allerton Arts festival 2003. A section of the piece was broadcast on BBC radio Leeds.
    • Calling Down the Moon 2005 – A piece about the fierce and provocative Irish Goddess Maeve, which I wrote and performed as part of Multiversity, a multi media project celebrating the spoken word, developed in conjunction with Yorkshire Arts Circus and Directed by Sarah Hope.
    • She, close to the bone, an experimental spoken word piece, exploring myths, in collaboration with other writers, with the Word hoard, Huddersfield 2004

In her Irish lilt Mac Mahon brought magic to even the most mundane aspects of life. – Bradford Book Festival – Telegraph and Argus

An element of distance can sharpen the pen, as perhaps it has for Irish performance poet Siobhan Mac Mahon. Though she has lived in England for two decades, her poetry is rooted in Ireland, whether laughing fondly at its stereotypes or asking tough questions about those whose lives were damaged by the stranglehold of the church. – The Scotsman, Stanza Poetry Festival

Fabulous! My first experience of performance poetry and I loved it. – Audience

A declaration for Life by a very talented poet who gives us a liberating glimpse of an alternate way of being. – Halifax Irish Festival

A Very charismatic performer engaging the audience with her humour, talent and warmth. Courageous and honest I loved her, I think we all did! – Development librarian Leeds.

Fabulous! My first experience of performance poetry and I loved it

Fabulous show, Vibrant, moving, witty, thoroughly enjoyable – Wicklow Arts Festival

What a terrific evening! Well done. Uplifting, inspiring, powerful, wonderful words – so funny too!

I think that you’ve a wonderful, inspiring and creative show! – Cherie Federico, Editor of Aesthetica Magazine

Thank you for a brilliant evening, the feedback was brilliant – Paula Truman, director Morley Literature Festival

A declaration for Life by a very talented poet who gives us a liberating glimpse of an alternate way of being –Halifax Irish Festival

A wonderful melding of poetry and music that courses along with such intelligence and humour – Carriageworks theatre Leeds

This kind of theatre gives us all courage to search our truth and be bold.

On behalf of The Carriageworks, this is just a quick note to let you know how much we all enjoyed working with you. Not only was the show a successful sell out for two nights running, but various staff members managed to see the show and very much enjoyed it. The audience was clearly enjoying it and I did cast my eye over your comments board and was very pleased to see such positive feedback. Its safe to say that we would most certainly work with you again – do come back! – Nadine Khadr, Community Participation Officer, the Carriageworks.

Images of vibrant sensuality abound as the poet deconstructs patriarchal religiosity to allow the free flow of human feminine physicality, fecund and creative to demonstrate its power – Joe Sheeran, Arts Programmer.

The words at times reaching into a place within me that reverberated with an echoing recognition of my own mystery as human, alive, sensual, funny and ultimately beautiful and if me then everybody and everything else. – Halifax Irish festival