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The Autonomy Project Dance Artist Lisa McLoughlin shows us her excitement for the Project

Limerick Fringe 2018 presents The Autonomy Project as an applicant for the festival and they have a lot for us to look forward to. I Love Limerick got the whole low-down from The Autonomy Project Dance Artist Lisa McLoughlin.

The Autonomy Project Dance Artist Lisa McLoughlin shows us her excitement for the Project

Limerick Fringe presents The Autonomy Project as an applicant for the 2018 Limerick festival with The Autonomy Project Dance Artist Lisa McLoughlin.  The project Is all about the arts and plenty to tell I Love Limerick.
Limerick Fringe is a fresh, vibrant, multi-genre performance-based event in Limerick. It is a non-profit organisation that looks to support artists and producers to promote new, exciting and daring arts to a wider audience utilizing non-traditional spaces. Fringe invites applications from all performance disciplines, the programme is split up into eight main event categories these are Cabaret, Comedy, Dance & Physical Theatre, Kids & Youth, Spoken Word, Music, Theatre and Street Performance. They encourage applicants to dream wild, to propose mad and daring collaborations. Limerick Fringe supports homegrown creativity and welcomes national and international acts with open arms. Limerick Fringe is a showcase for your talent. Fringe offers a platform to try out new work, increase your audiences, gain reputation and enhance your own professionalism.

This year, Limerick Fringe applicant, The Autonomy Project is going to show all their vibrant performances. I Love Limerick got in contact with Autonomy Project Dance Artist Lisa McLoughlin for an interview to learn all about what the project. Here’s what she had to say…


How did the idea of focusing on autonomy come about?

The 1916 centenary celebrations really inspired her. Lisa was really sceptical about the government finding all this extra money for the Arts to create pieces around the celebrations.  She felt that it was a way of laundering the thorny issues of the creation of the Irish state, however, this was also so wrong. Lisa saw such amazing and brave work made by Irish artists and they faced the difficult issues unflinchingly. Movements like “Waking the Feminists”, “Artists repeal the 8th”, “The Limerick Spring” and so many pieces of dance, theatre and music gave her back that belief she had as a teenager, that being an artist carries a responsibility and made her question how she was using it. She has been questioning my own bodily autonomy in my dance practice as my own training was more akin to military training than any kind of training as an artist, so making the walk to any small bit of autonomy has been a long and gradual process for me. 

 Lisa is also fascinated by how we organise as a society. How much of the status quo we accept and do we consciously consider why we do it? She explained how she met a man who declared his land a sovereign state, is off-grid and self-sufficient, so Lisa thought to herself, “wow, that is autonomy!”. She can’t and is not willing to go that far but felt she needed to wake up from “sleepwalking into decisions about how to raise my kids, how to educate them, what I do and, more importantly, what I don’t do. Inertia is easy and so is cynicism”. She said how The Autonomy Project is an attempt at asking for discussion, not consensus. Trying to facilitate a respectful debate as to how all can retain their own autonomy in the tidal wave of society. “Can we be more than our innate in the group, out group politics?”

Can you explain in your own words what the theme of autonomy means for you?

“Autonomy at its core is the ability to make decisions for one’s self, free from undue influence. Yet we live in an interconnected web of a world, so the influence is subtle and silent. Often, we are also taught from very early on to try to fit in. Fitting in involves silencing parts of yourself that don’t fit in and a very slow process of eroding of one’s ability to make choices based on personal values and nothing else. In a sense, it’s a utopian ideal and one we cannot realise, but the attempt to be clearer about how and why we do what we do is so important. These are interesting times, our choices have a power that we need to utilise, or at the very least be aware of. So much of what we do is economically driven, but the capitalist model can allow people to fall through the cracks all too easily. Our Autonomy should never be taken for granted.

Why did you decide to bring the project to Limerick? Does Limerick have anything in particular to offer?”

Lisa has lived in East Clare for the past 6 years and has been working in Limerick since then. She said she has never lived in a more “vibrantly creative place” such as the young artists pouring out of LSAD, the Irish World Academy and all of the other artist working in Limerick have inspired her. She also said she’s a huge fan of the Rubberbandits also and think they do an amazing job of merging creativity and social commentary.

I understand that the final phase includes ethnographic research and documentation of the project’s three phases for online publication and presentation at the symposium. What results do you expect from this?

Autonomy Project Dance Artist Lisa McLoughlin is hoping to be surprised. She has heard heart-warming stories of different youth groups working and feeling like they have a voice. The autonomy Project has musicians, dancers, actors all using their craft to explore the theme and GOSHH have gathered ten transgender teenagers to discuss gender autonomy using film, song and poetry. She’s excited to hear these voices as she believes, as a society, “we have so much to learn from their fresh and unjaded perspective. That to me is what the project is all about, giving voice to differing perspectives and opening debate.”

For more information on Limerick Fringe click here

For more on The Autonomy Project click here

For more stories on The Autonomy Project From I Love Limerick Click here


Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.