Welcome to Órla's site. Please get in touch if you are interested in workshops or performance engagements.
Órla's Books - 'Dublin Folk Tales For Children' and 'Wild Waves & Wishing Wells':
Special Signed Copies of Wild Waves & Wishing Wells and Dublin Folk Tales For Children are now both available directly from the author. Regular copies are also available to buy in good bookshops worldwide near you. Support your local bookshop if you can!
If you’ve just purchased ‘Wild Waves & Wishing Wells’ and are looking to learn ‘The Fairy Ship Of Roses’, have a listen here! Chords will follow soon. Thanks so much to Niceol Blue and Emily Donoghue for putting this together with me.
‘Our children adore these stories, they have worn the books out and have now started telling themselves new stories!
Thank you so much!’
Órla Mc Govern is a performer, maker, teller and writer based in the West of Ireland. She is Artistic Director of The Spontaneous Theatre People & The Sky Babies, a trustee of Theatre 57 and a member of the artist collective Interface Inagh. As a performer she has worked extensively in scripted and improvised theatre around the world, as well as acting and improvising for film, tv and radio. Most recent screen appearance was as Patricia Kelly in Len Collin’s multi-award winning ‘Sanctuary’. As an actor she lived, trained and worked extensively in the US for many years and was an original member of Improv groups: Seattle goga, Seattle Neutrino Project, and Spolin Players Seattle. She also had the pleasure of performing with Edge Bainbridge, Jet City Improv, Unexpected Productions, and many others in the US. In scripted theatre she has worked at the likes of The Abbey Theatre, Red Kettle, Punchbag, Glasshouse and numerous others in Ireland.
In the US Órla performed in theatres such as CHAC, NW Actors’ Studio, Baba Yaga, and Freehold Studio. She works as a storyteller around the world and has told at numerous venues including the Cape Clear Festival, World Storytelling Cafe, Yarnspinners Dublin. She also provides creative workshops in Storytelling and Improvisation. As a facilitator, Órla has facilitated numerous workshops for Corporate, Artistic, and Individual clients around the world, and is skilled at tailoring each session to suit their needs. Órla’s plays have been produced around the world, and she particularly enjoys working with site specific and short duration theatre; having had work made on boats, in breweries and on top of giant sculptures. Some of her recent work was staged at The Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Brigit’s Garden Galway, and in the Mick Lally Theatre Galway, as part of Cúirt with Fregoli Theatre Company. Órla continues to teach and perform globally, with her troupes The Sky Babies and Which Is Which, as well as with Moth & Butterfly (an innovative Storytelling /Improv Project). She is a member of the Ohana Project, and also has an alter ego who has her own career entirely! She has written two books of folk tales: Wild Waves & Wishing Wells and Dublin Folk Tales For Children.
Órla is also a voice talent. You can find her demo here on her Voice Talent Ireland page.
‘Órla’s workshops have introduced me to the liberating world of improvisation. I am an actor by trade and I have found the improv workshops incredibly useful when approaching characterisation and devising. They are also great fun and I’m always on a high afterwards! Órla is a fantastic, enthusiastic and patient teacher – I couldn’t recommend her workshops more!‘
~ Ionia. Galway Lab Participant
‘Órla is a great workshop leader who immediately makes you feel you are in safe hands. The various activities and games were informative, creative and above all, fun. Órla is clear and concise with her instructions and guides you with kindness and humour along your storytelling improvisation journey. Whether you are a professional performer or just want to try your hand at improvisational storytelling, I can certainly recommend this workshop!’
~ Sophie. Barcelona Improv Festival Workshop Participant
‘Órla was a fantastic teacher, making everyone feel totally at ease…the hours flew by and I enjoyed every minute, wanting to get up and volunteer again and again rather than sitting and watching.‘
~ Julia – BIG IF Participant
‘The day blew my mind! I am completely in love with improv now!’
~ John – Galway Workshop Participant
‘I found this workshop really challenging at first, but the amount it changes my work and how I view it is incredible, months later! Thank you so much, I would like a ‘Part 2, 3 and 4!’
~Anon. FIIF Workshop Participant.
‘Órla’s sessions are the best holiday from your head you could possibly have! You don’t realise how much you are being challenged because you are having so much fun.’
~Sarah- Galway Lab Participant
Sample Theatre/Storytelling Workshops:
Órla teaches around the world and regularly creates bespoke workshops for artistic, educational, individual clients. She is delighted to work with people of all ages, to ignite the creative spark!
Improvisation For Storytellers (Full day or 3 hour workshop model available*)
This workshop is geared for Storytellers and Storylisteners. No previous experience in improvisation is necessary!
Applied Improvisation is a very powerful way to unlock and heighten creativity. It can be used as a tool to improve many skills and occupations, including storytelling, creative writing, public performance, management, team-building, group interactions and social speaking to name just a few. At the core of improvisation is the art of being present and in the moment. The side effects of this may include increased energy and presence, sharper responses, quicker thought and the ability to think outside the box much easier!
I am very passionate about improvisation, and delighted when I get to discover successful marriages between art forms! I started a night in Galway called Moth and Butterfly where improvisation, true stories, and other stories mingle together and complement each other. The results each night continue to surprise and inspire me, and I am very proud of this exciting project. I would love to share some of the work I do, and the skills I have, to further people’s own passion, and help build on their own individual styles of telling a story!
Areas covered in the workshop include:
· Character – tools to bring your characters to life even more in your stories
· Spontaneity – tools to respond to your audience on the fly
· Listening and observation – sharpen these skills and use them to create new stories.
· Play – bringing the sense of play into your telling and upping your energy.
· From Scratch – using a simple story ‘scaffold’ to create brand new stories instantly
· What comes next – telling a single story as a group
· Bring what you know – your story, life knowledge and personality are all you need
· Truth is cool – open up, tell a truth and feel the tingle!
In the ‘Improvisation for Storytellers’ workshop, we will begin by warming up and actually playing as a group. This allows people to be more relaxed and creative throughout the session. We will be looking at Storytelling, how it connects us as humans, through the lens of improvisation. We will explore how to get the juices flowing in actually making a new story, and how to eliminate creative blocks. We will look and simplicity in structure, as well as twists. We will play ‘games’ that exercise the spontaneity muscle, allowing us to ‘get out of our own way’ when creating a story. We will be moving around physically a lot, emphasizing telling (and listening!) with the whole body, and how this can improve our craft. We will use improvisation to explore stage presence and vocal projection, and play with size and volume as another tool in telling
We will look at some existing stories in our repertoire, and examine how we can deepen and strengthen any characters that emerge. We will make new stories on the spot, and we will tell brand new stories as a group. We will look at ways to include our audience even further in our storytelling, when required. Most of all we will have an enormous amount of fun! (*full day workshop).
* I have also designed a 3 hour ‘Storytelling & Improvisation’ workshop that primarily focuses on the uses of storytelling skills in improv, but draws on many of the topics mentioned above (in a more condensed manner). In the shorter workshop the emphasis is on the Improvised Story skillset and highlights the ‘truth based’ monologue.
A Big Day of Play – Improv Theatre Intensive
Explore the foundations of Comedy and Theatrical Improvisation with acclaimed Performer and Facilitator Órla Mc Govern (Artistic Director: The Spontaneous Theatre People, The Sky Babies, Moth and Butterfly). In the workshop we will be playing with some essentials from the improvisation toolbox, including, games, character, truth, status, listening, storytelling and spontaneity. Please wear comfortable clothing and bring some water and snacks for break. A notebook and pen is useful but not essential. Also be prepared to have fun, laugh out loud, be silly and surprised, boost your brain-power and amaze yourself! All levels, beginners to old pros, are welcome. (full day workshop)
Intro To Improv
A delicious taster Improv workshop , lead by acclaimed performer and facilitator Órla Mc Govern. (Artistic Director: The Spontaneous Theatre People, The Sky Babies, Moth and Butterfly) This workshop explores the foundations of comedy and theatricalimprovisation. Be prepared to have fun, laugh out loud, be silly and surprised, boost your brain-power and amaze yourself! All levels, beginners to old pros, are welcome! Age range 16+ (2 hours)
IMPROVISE! (in bold characters)
Make the stage your truly be your playground and never be stuck for an interesting choice. This workshop will help you create instant and believable characters of all shapes and sizes. We’ll explore space and the limitless amount of ‘stuff’ there is to use onstage, and bring truth to our physicality. True characters always know what to say even if you don’t!
Órla facilitates an ongoing ‘Improv Lab’ in Galway that meets regularly and explores the different schools of Improv. Email for more details.
Reveal Your Story
A workshop to create a story from scratch – whether a gem from your own experience, a tale of a beloved grandparent, a brand new tale or a legend from your locality, we will explore the best ways to compose, research, create and tell. We will make spontaneous stories and look at all the wonders that live in a storyteller’s toolbox!
Órla’s workshops have been hosted by: Irish Festival of Oulu (Finland), Improliga (Prague, Czech Republic), IMPRO Bucharest, Romania (various), Improfest, Gothenburg, Sweden Galway Workshop Festival (Intro to Improv), Galway Actors’ Studio (A Big Day of Play) summer and winter sessions, Harbour Playhouse, Dublin, Storytellers of Ireland (Improvisation for Storytellers), Finland International Improv Festival (Walk Like A (Wo) Man), Improv Fest Ireland (IMPROVISE! (in bold characters)), Improvember Munich, Germany (Surprise Workshop, and The Improv Toy Box Intensive), Barcelona Improv Festival (Walk Like A (Wo) Man and Improvisation For Storytellers ), Irish Festival of Oulu, Finland, (Intro to Improv, Improvisation For Storytellers), Festival Strasbourg Theatre De L’Oignion (Walk Like A Woman), Strasbourg, France, ongoing Improv Labs in Galway with The Spontaneous Theatre People as well as Corporate Clients including Google and Linked In.