Who are you/what is your creative background?
I’m Sarah Ahern and I’m the graphic designer for How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gardaí. I studied Visual Communications at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), before taking some time to work as a freelance in design, film/TV and theatre. Last year I began studying at the Gaiety School of Acting (GSA), which I love.
How did you meet Lili/what was your first impression?
I first met Lili while we were volunteering at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (JDIFF) together. The best way I can describe my first impression of her is as a warm, bubbly and intelligent person. I also noticed that she often doesn’t comment unless she has something to say. Which I like.
How did you get involved with Lili’s play?
After JDIFF I set up a writer’s group with a bunch of the other volunteers. Lili was a steadfast regular, always with great ideas and generous feedback. It’s nice to know that I was one of the first people to read Lili’s idea. I know how important the story is to her and it’s been amazing to watch it transform and grow from a room in a café to a Broadway show. You realise the amount of time and dedication that goes into nurturing a show. Like a paper baby.
Did/do you connect with Lili’s plight? Have you any personal experience with immigration laws/the Gardai either directly or indirectly?
I have lived abroad, in Canada, but I didn’t experience any immigration difficulties. I can identity with how living in a new country is a challenge in itself, you are removed from the people you know, your comforts are jolted. It’s exciting and difficult at the same time, your mind and body are adjusting to a new world. I can imagine how isolating it must’ve been for Lili standing in the airport, as far as she knew, about to be deported: removed from old and new familiarities, standing in an unfamiliar airport room. It’s a cold scene. In a single moment one person decided to exert their control and mark Lili’s profile.
Authority, in my experience, is intimidating. There’s an automatic guilt. I don’t know whether the person in the airport took advantage of their authority or if they were just following their training. But I worry about how rules and regulations are created and enforced. The tolerance to it is concerning.
Ultimately, this show is important to me because I am Lili’s friend. I can see how her experience has altered her stay in Ireland. This play is unlike another news report or an article, it’s a personal experience. I hope that when you see Lili on stage you will identity with the individual and her journey.
What was your initial response to the play as performed as a work-in-progress in Collaborations?
Excitement. It’s wonderful to see something grow.
How did you feel when finding out the play was going to be on Broadway?
At first the idea felt very distant! Suddenly the whole project became bigger although the idea hadn’t changed. It’s been fun to be a part of a show that will experience a different audience on the other side of the world. I’m thrilled for Lili, Amy and Malu and all the hard work they have put into making it happen.
Has it been difficult arranging everything from a distance?
I think I got off easy on this one. My concerns are all digital. The ladies have done a stellar job of the logistical difficulties of the show.
Tell us about the Indiegogo campaign and how that idea came about.
Crowd-funding is so popular now, it seemed like a smart idea. I really like the idea of it: you promote your target and people you know, friends-of-friends or complete strangers can choose how much they want donate. They might get a little prize back from the campaign, but there’s a nice pay-it-forward mindset to it.
Any other ideas for fundraising/promotion to come in the future?
There are posters and flyers and an active social media campaign. I know the girls will be working hard once they arrive in NYC, spreading the word on the ground. We also came up with an idea for some hashtag badges which will be given out: “#FreeLili” and “#StandWithLili.” I am all for Lili trending on Twitter.
What else are you working on creatively?
I’ve just finished some branding work for Ofegus Theatre Company. At the moment I’m working on a solo piece as actor/writer with director Amy Fox, and with thanks to the Dublin Fringe team. I’m also in the middle of roles for new shorts The Lost Art of Charm and Revolution, and am part of an ensemble working on a devised piece at the GSA with director Dan Colley.