Two Galway artists selected for international residency at Atelier Samuel Beckett

Two Galway artists have been awarded bursaries for a three-week international residency at Atelier Samuel Beckett in Méricourt, France to take place in 2024. The selected artists are Petal Pilley, artistic director of Blue Teapot Theatre and Claire-Louise Bennett, writer.  Both are residents of County Galway. The bursaries are supported by Galway Culture Company in association with Atelier Samuel Beckett and the Cork theatre company, Gare St Lazare Ireland, and by the School of English and Creative Arts and the James Hardiman LIbrary, University of Galway. 

Atelier Samuel Beckett is a new international artist’s residency in the village of Méricourt, France, an hour northwest of Paris on the River Seine. The mission of the residency is to promote and highlight the artistic legacy of Samuel Beckett across all artforms. The two artists will spend 3 weeks living at Atelier Samuel Beckett, working in an environment that supports and values artistic ambition, exchange, and self-directed work. 

The residency offers artists a place to reflect, develop, research and study while accessing Beckett’s writing with mentorship from Gare St Lazare Ireland’s artistic directors and founders of Atelier Samuel Beckett, director Judy Hegarty Lovett and actor Conor Lovett.The primary goal of the residency is for the resident artist to develop their own practice, with no obligation to deliver any outcomes. 

Gare St Lazare Ireland have produced over 19 Beckett productions Judy and Conor founded Atelier Samuel Beckett as an opportunity for artists to deepen their engagement with Beckett’s work in the hope that he will influence new works in all areas of the arts.  

“In our staging of Beckett’s prose works we’ve collaborated with performers, composers, musicians, videographers and visual artists.  We’ve seen how Beckett’s work inspires and how artists are enriched by it.” Says Conor Lovett.  Judy added, “This residency was born out of combination of our experience and the support of philanthropic donors.  We hope that new funders will support bursaries and we’re thrilled that Galway Culture Company and University of Galway are leading the way.”

The selected artists will receive awards valued at €6000 that include a stipend to each artist of €1500, self-catering accommodation, travel expenses and Gare St Lazare mentoring. University of Galway will also provide access to its theatre archives and rehearsal studios.

Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at University of Galway, welcomed this important partnership. ‘These international residencies at Atelier Samuel Beckett provide a vital link between past and present, showing how Beckett remains a vital presence in the Irish and European imaginations – not only for brilliant theatre companies such as Gare St Lazarre, but for the emerging generation of artists and audiences at the University of Galway’.  

Petal Pilley has a lifetime of experience in theatre having grown up in a travelling theatre company touring extensively throughout Europe. She is the Artistic Director of Blue Teapot Theatre Company a bold, diverse, Irish company working with artists with intellectual disabilities.Petal developed Ireland’s first QQI accredited Performing Arts School for people with intellectual disabilities.

Claire-Louise Bennett is the author of Pond (2015) and Checkout 19 (2022). Her stories and essays have appeared in a range of publications including The New Yorker, The London Review of Books, Frieze, and Harper’s magazine. She was awarded a Samuel Beckett Creative Fellowship for 2022-2023 at the University of Reading,

This project and its partnership are a response to the Joint Plan of Action (2021-2025) between Ireland and France. The Plan aims to strengthen and deepen relations between the two countries across a range of cultural, educational and political activities. Among the aims of this plan is to foster the digital economy and to jointly promote cultural exchanges, including the creation of several new cultural fellowships and residency programmes between Irish and French institutions. Samuel Beckett’s body of work embodies Franco-Irish cultural exchange and shows how potent international partnership can be.

Photos by Simon Boyle