Monica Munoz Marin on Princesses Can Be Pirates

Do girls climb trees, play with cars or fix machines? Can boys play with dolls or pretend play in domestic roles? And what about the adults – how much say do they have in how children play, act and behave? What is considered “typical” or “normal” behaviour for girls and for boys? Highly energetic, fun and whimsical, Princesses Can Be Pirates, playfully questions our gender preconceptions.

Princesses Can Be Pirates is a dance piece for children aged 4+ and their adults. The piece explores gender and identity in childhood where play is everything and everywhere.

Princesses Can Be Pirates was created to be performed originally in primary schools of the Docklands area, it was supported by the Docklands Arts Fund from Business to Arts and Dance Ireland.  There are a number of reasons to develop such a project, in 2017 I created and performed a solo Sink or Swim, exploring issues of gender role stereotypes in women. This process raised complex questions concerning male/female roles, how these relate to a child’s development, and the need for continued dialogue amongst the arts and education sector in support of greater gender diversity. Lastly, on a personal note as a mother, I have experienced first-hand many of the challenges that arise in enabling children to develop a truly positive sense of self through free exploration and expression, regardless of, or because of their particular gender.

Play was the starting point of the piece, because play is where children feel in control. It is the way they discover themselves and the world around them, play is the space of possibility. Kids of the most diverse background can play, collaborate and enjoy each other presence, this includes freeing themselves from gender stereotypes.

Talking about this specific topic was a challenge, I was worried about what you can and what you can’t say to children. One very important point was to keep the performance very open and positive and that the children had empathy with the performers, humour was a key element to create a work without trying to direct children’s thinking in any way. What I have learned from working with children and from showing them the work, is that doesn’t matter what an activity looks like, it is how it feels like to the child that is important.

It has been an incredible journey to bring the piece to children around Dublin, and the response from children, teachers and parents has been very positive. The making of this work has informed which roles we give to our children and how they interact with the world at large. We have performed in school halls, gymnasiums, dance studios, libraries… now we are taking the piece to theatre venues across the country.

Princesses Can Be Pirates is made for children who want to decide by themselves, for those who can’t remain sitting for a long time and those children who like to imagine a different world than they see…

Artistic Direction & Concept: Mónica Muñoz Marín | Choreography: Mónica Muñoz Marín in collaboration with cast
Performers: Deirdre Griffin, Matt Szczerek | Lighting Design: Gearoid O’Hallmhurain

 NATIONAL TOUR 2019

9th February:     Dance Limerick WHAT NEXT Festival 2:30 pm

25th March:          Riverbank Arts Centre Kildare 10am and 12pm

28th March:          The Source Arts Centre Thurles  11am

31st March:          Nenagh Arts Centre 3pm

2nd April:              Firkin Crane Cork 11 am

4th April:               West Cork Arts Centre 11 am

6th April:               AxisBallymun 12pm and 2pm

9th April:               The Civic Theatre Tallaght 10:30 am and 4pm

11th April:             Dunamaise Arts Centre Portlaoise 12pm

25th April:             Roscommon Arts Centre 3pm

5th May:                Dublin Dance Festival 12pm

Princesses Can Be Pirates is supported by a Touring and Dissemination Award from the Arts Council, Dance Ireland, Dance Limerick, The Civic and Dublin Dance Festival

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