Inspirefest snapshot: The creative force engineering imaginations

5 Jun 2018

Noeline Kavanagh. Image: Julia Dunin

As creative director and CEO of Macnas, Noeline Kavanagh is behind some of the most immersive theatrical events out there.

Macnas is one of the world’s most unique performance groups and it has travelled much farther than its Galway birthplace in the three decades it has existed.

From SXSW in Austin to China’s Chaoyang Festival, and back to Ireland for the Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin, Macnas has had a global impact.

A thrilling spectacle

Future Human

The interactive performances made famous by Macnas are a thrilling sight to behold and, although the group performs all over the world, it is mostly known for its annual Macnas parade, which takes place in Galway over the course of the Halloween bank holiday weekend.

Macnas has toured with U2 and even appeared at the MTV awards  show with the band.

The performance company’s work is spooky, exciting, funny and frightening, and involves music, giant puppets and mime.

Noeline Kavanagh, the organisation’s creative director and CEO, is set to appear at this year’s Inspirefest conference to talk about her work, as well as the ways in which art and technology intersect.

A native of Galway, Kavanagh has been a key factor in the development of Macnas events into something truly immersive, transforming spectators into participants.

Kavanagh joined Macnas as a teenager and directed her first parade in 1998. She returned to Macnas in 2009 to take up her current post.

A place for art in the world

The artistic director is someone who is passionate about the need for spectacle art in the world. She said: “It reminds us we have permission to play, to be unruly, to have access to imagination in all its lewd, crude, weird and wonderful ways. It gives us permission to relax and just exhale.”

As well as her work with Macnas, Kavanagh has also worked with Rough Magic and Fishamble Theatre Company, as well as taking part in avant-garde troupes such as Els Comediants in Barcelona.

For inspiration from extraordinary thinkers, catch Noeline Kavanagh and more at Inspirefest in Dublin on 21 and 22 June. Get your tickets now.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects