Áine Stapleton

is creating dance and film based on Lucia Joyce

About Áine Stapleton

I have been exploring the life of Lucia Joyce, daughter of Irish writer James Joyce (Ulysses), through experimental film and live performance since 2014.
My latest film 'Horrible Creature' examines Lucia's life in between 1915 and 1950. Lucia attended school in Zurich between 1915 and 1918, and later went on to train as a professional dancer. In the early 1930s, she was incarcerated by her brother and spent approximately 47 years in psychiatric care. She was treated by Carl Jung in Zurich and was treated at various hospitals throughout Europe. 
I moved to Zurich in 2017 for one year in order to research 'Horrible Creature' at the Zurich James Joyce Foundation, which holds the largest Joyce collection in the world. Following this research period, I received funding from the Irish Arts Council to develop 'Horrible Creature'. In February 2019, we filmed at locations where Lucia spent time in Switzerland.

'Horrible Creature' was an opportunity to pay tribute to the life of Lucia Joyce through the art form which was her passion. Lucia trained with avant-garde choreographers including Raymond Duncan and Margaret Morris. She also create her own choreography and toured Europe with dance group Les Six de Rythme et Couleur. She briefly dated Irish writer Samuel Beckett who remained her lifelong friend. Her dancing was mostly unsupported by her family, and following an unexplained accident of ill health, she suddenly ended her dance career in the early 1930s. Soon after she was incarcerated by her brother Giorgio, and was left in psychiatric care for 47 years, during which time she had one visit from her brother and no contact with her mother. She was forced to undergo experimental treatments, although many of her doctors could not agree on a conclusive diagnosis about her. The majority of Lucia's writings were destroyed by her nephew following her death.

This film focuses specifically on Lucia's life in Switzerland. Between 1915 and 1950 she lived through two world wars and was under threat at an occupied zone at an asylum in France before escaping to England during World War 2. The script for 'Horrible Creature' includes both a choreographic score - the choreography detailed in words - which is interpreted by a cast of international dancers, as well as a separate script for voiceover. 

An original soundtrack has been created for the film, and is inspired by songs that Lucia would have played on piano or sung.
The costume design is inspired by Lucia's clothing between 1915 and 1950. Lucia also created her own costumes for performance, including a shimmering fish costume.

The film is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland, and the Irish Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. It is supported by Dance Ireland, The James Joyce Centre Dublin, Arts & Disability Ireland Tanzarchiv Zurich, and Ticino Film Commission. 

My first film 'Medicated Milk' is based on Lucia's life between 1950 and 1982. I plan to create a third and final film about her life in Trieste, Italy, for release in 2022. This release will happen in conjunction with the anniversary of the publication of Ulysses by James Joyce.

I am also currently an artist in residence at NMAC Foundation in Spain. I will create a short film for screening at NMAC and DanceHouse Dublin, which will explore autobiography, body, and landscape. NMAC holds permanent works by international artists such as Marina Abramović and Olafur Eliasson. This residency is supported by Dance Ireland's Associate Artist Programme. 

Any income generated from my Patreon account will go towards the following;

* Post-production for 'Horrible Creature' and festival submission costs.
* Research for the third and final Lucia Joyce film in 2020 / 2021.
* Development of a new short dance film created at NMAC Foundation in 2019. 

Supporters will be listed on all show materials, film credits, and social media pages related to the works. 

Áine works in film, dance, and music. She obtained a First Class Honours Degree in Dance Studies from the University of Surrey, London in 2004. She was selected as Associate Artist 2019 with Dance Ireland, the national dance development organization in Ireland. She recently created her second experimental feature film ‘Horrible Creature’ based on Lucia Joyce, daughter of Irish writer James Joyce (Ulysses). This film is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, the Irish Embassy in Bern, and the Ticino Film Commission in Switzerland. ‘Horrible Creature’ premiered at the Irish Film Institute Dublin in June 2019. Áine will also create a live dance show about Lucia Joyce in late 2019, co-produced by Project Arts Centre, Dublin.
Her first film ‘Medicated Milk’ was screened internationally at venues including Kinoteka Belgrade, Tisch School of Arts New York, The Irish Film Institute Dublin and Trieste University Italy - “Brave, provocative and deeply sensual...A must-see” Film Ireland. Áine is a resident artist at the NMAC Foundation in Andalucia during 2019, researching a new project based on body and environment titled ‘alone as everything’.
She curates dance and wellness events in collaboration with several organizations, including Dance Ireland and First Fortnight Festival of Mental Health. She is part of an all-female electronica group ‘Everything Shook’. They trio have played large festivals, music venues, dive bars, theatres, bookshops and art spaces throughout Ireland and New York, and will release their second album in Autumn 2019. ‘Everything Shook...recall Fever Ray and Ladytron at a melancholy 4 am disco with David Lynch Djing’ Buzz.ie.

Recent posts by Áine Stapleton