Photography: Ros Kavanagh

Mel Mercier is a multi-disciplinary, award-winning, Tony-nominated artist with an international reputation as a performer, composer and sound designer. Renowned as an innovative musician, rooted in traditional musics, he is committed to collaborating across artforms, music genres and traditions. He is director of the Irish Gamelan Orchestra, MÓNCKK new music ensemble and PULSUS, the first Irish traditional percussion ensemble. Mel was Lecturer/Professor of Music at University College Cork  from 1992 to 2016, and inaugural Chair of Performing Arts at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, from 2016 to 2022.

Mel Mercier

Wearing my theatre sound designer-composer hat, there are several developments I would be happy to see achieved in the next four years – and contribute to, where appropriate and possible – including: the expansion of innovative, interdisciplinary and non-literary theatre design practice; more design-led creative projects that are originated and developed by theatre designers, either working alone or in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations; developments in funding and producing interests that recognize the creative potential of design disciplines and support the emergence of designers as artist-auteurs; more experimental approaches to literary (and non-literary) theatre making practices that are more inclusive, more deeply collaborative, offer alternatives to the typical hierarchical structures, and provide more opportunities for greater artistic input from sound/music, lighting, video and set designers; more engagement by designers in the making of theatre for social change, which make artistic/creative contributions to, for example, discourses on climate change, inclusion, diversity, poverty and injustice. My short audio piece, REFLECT, explores some of these concerns by focusing on the expression, through language and sound, of the perspectives of theatre design artists on: the artistic autonomy of their discipline; the nature and expressive potential of other theatre design disciplines; collaboration across theatre design disciplines; theatre-making hierarchies; and artistic ambitions.