Rapids:  a note from the Writer, Shaun Dunne & his research consultant Robbie Lawlor

The act of making new or secret information known…

For the past two years, we have been making this show. During that time, we have met with members and allies of the HIV+ community here in Ireland. Our main impetus has always been to playfully and respectfully make the private public. This is easier said than done…


A lot of people here are afraid to speak about their HIV. Many people refuse to even say the words. Over two years, we met with men and women of all ages, across all spectrums and we asked them to open up about something they seldom open up about. We told them we would abstract their words and stories. We promised that we would never betray their confidence and that we would make sure they were safe. When they started talking, they wouldn’t stop.

Rapids is a stylised truth. When watching this work, we would like you to remember that these are real experiences that actually happened. The contributors of this work have confided in us and now we are confiding in you.

This is a show about the act of disclosure. The moment something is told that can’t be taken back. We wanted to make this work because we know there are so many stories and experiences that remain held inside people’s heads and hearts.

Particularly about sex.
Particularly about sexual health.
Particularly here.


Secrets and sex go hand in hand in Ireland. We wanted to find a way to challenge that polemic. This is only the beginning of that effort.

By abstracting the process of transmission, reconstructing elements of our own process and re-enacting genuine instances of disclosure both medical and social, we hope to disempower the notion of disease and instead place emphasis on the human and emotional detail of what it means to be positive in Ireland.

We learned through the process of making this work that sometimes, you really are only as sick as your secrets. If you want to talk to us more please email: RAPIDSTHEATRESHOW@GMAIL.COM

Robbie Lawlor and Shaun Dunne are great friends, ex-boyfriends and activists who work together to support the voice of the HIV+ community.

Rapids creative team credits: Shaun Dunne, writer / performer, Lisa Walsh, performer / maker, Aisling Byrne, maker, Kilian Waters, Film Design, Sinead Diskin, Sound Design, Ciaran O’Melia, Set, Costume and Light Design, Lara Hickey, Producer, Robbie Lawlor, Research Support, Gary Keegan, Dramaturgy, Photography: Hazel Coonagh, Image Design: Will St Leger



About Shaun Dunne – Writer/Theatre Maker /Performer:

Shaun Dunne is a playwright and theatre-artist who merges testimony and documentary material with new writing. He is a trained journalist and drama facilitator- with elements of both heavily informing his arts practice.

Theatre credits include “Death of the Tradesmen” (Winner of the Fishamble New Writing Award and the Lir Revival Award) and “Advocacy” (Best Ensemble Award and Best Performer at Dublin Fringe) for Talking Shop Ensemble. Shaun is a graduate of the Abbey’s New Playwrights Programme and Rough Magic’s Seeds. In 2014, Shaun made his Abbey Theatre debut with “The Waste Ground Party” which was later shortlisted for the Stewart Parker Major Bursary.

Shaun is currently working on new plays for The Abbey and Rough Magic while also serving as  artist in residence at The Ark where he is responsible for The Children’s Council.

Other work includes “I’ve to Mind Her” at Dublin Theatre Festival, “Revolution Radio” for RTE and a series of texts to be performed as part of The Dublin Tenement Museum.


About Robbie Lawlor – Research consultant & activist:

Robbie Lawlor is active within the HIV community since his diagnosis
in 2012. He found his adjustment to living with HIV dif cult due to the side effects of medication, living in a deafening silence, and the incessant fear of being ‘outed’. Robbie was determined to turn his HIV story around and make a better life for himself and others living with the condition. He set up Ireland’s rst one-on-one peer support network with the social work department in St. James Hospital. He became an event organizer in the social group organization, MeetUp Plus Friends. This organization sets up events around Ireland for

people living with HIV, such as cinema trips, walks, running sessions, and a very popular drinks night. Other projects included creating visibility around HIV, the issues surrounding HIV and informing the public about their important role in overcoming these issues. To create a platform in which to discuss these issues Robbie became Mr. Gay Ireland in 2014 and continues to work within the LGBT community. To further his credibility and augment his platform for HIV activism, Robbie is currently completing a masters in Sexuality Studies. Working with various UK NGO’s such as Stop AIDS, Youth Stop AIDS, and Restless Development, Robbie wishes to use his experiences to implement effective strategies to break the stigma surrounding HIV in Ireland.


About Talking Shop Ensemble:

Talking Shop Ensemble are a Dublin based theatre collective who are interested in making work that speaks to the here and now. The company consists of theatre artists Aisling Byrne, Lisa Walsh and Shaun Dunne. Their shared desire to create work that is playful, pertinent and most importantly, urgent has resulted in critical acclaim, support from the Arts Council and several awards over the years. The company have collaborated to create art that talks about intellectual disability service provision in Ireland, unemployed tradesmen in their fifties, psychic mediums in Dublin and generation emigration. Their multi-award winning work includes Advocacy, Death of the Tradesmen and I am a Homebird (It’s very hard).



Previews at Civic Theatre
Friday 6th & Saturday 7th September
Tickets €16/€14


Rapids will premiere at Project Arts Centre (Cube) as part of the 60th Anniversary Dublin Theatre Festival. The festival runs from 28 Sept – 15 Oct 2017.

Full programme: www.dublintheatrefestival.com

Rapids is supported by a Theatre Awards Project