Artist Name(s) Ciarán Taylor
Artwork title Search
Context/Background The brief for this commission was to create a site-specific performance-based work for dlr LexIcon, to be performed on Culture Night. It was to take the unique context and setting of the building and the public library facility into account and to respond to this context in some way. Commissioned artist Ciarán Taylor describes the context: ‘dlr LexIcon is a landmark public building with a striking design, which culminates on the fifth floor in an impressive reading area at a very tall window overlooking Dún Laoghaire harbour and Dublin Bay. I wanted to physically bring the audience through the building from bottom to top, creating a story set in the place that would allow the them to look at the building in a new way, and link it to a world of imagination. I wanted to make a play about reading and libraries as a repository of shared culture, a source for our imaginations, a sanctuary, a solace, an inspiration.’

A site-specific promenade mask play without words, that the audience follow on a journey of imagination through five floors of the dlr LexIcon library, including its outdoor spaces.

Story: Cathal is an older man. His wife Angela has recently died. He finds her bag of library books and is drawn to return them. He arrives by car to the LexIcon car park, where she had recently been. As he figures out the automatic book return machine a note falls from a red book. The book disappears on the conveyor belt back into the library system. The note refers to this red book, which he is now desperate to retrieve. He begins searching through the library to find it. The book begins to take on magical properties, while Angela and a mysterious librarian seem to be leading him to the fifth floor.

He has flashback memories of Angela along the way: their first meeting among the shelves of the college library, reading the same book over her shoulder, her reading under a parasol on holiday. We see a mysterious librarian retrieving the magical red book from the storage area. He is always one step ahead of Cathal. His book trolley takes on a strange power, buffeting Cathal in his turmoil.

A frantic cat and mouse chase among the shelves of the fifth floor accelerates, until an image of a huge red cloth flying across the room draws Cathal to the window overlooking the bay. The red book is there. He reads the important passage marked by Angela with a feather. He sees a vision of her one more time, but beyond his reach on the other side of the glass. When he looks again she is gone. He goes to leave with the book, his precious connection to Angela. The librarian asks for it back. Library books are only on loan. They hold our collective knowledge, which must be shared and passed on. A young woman picks the book from the trolley. Cathal is given another book. He sits and begins to read. He looks out to sea. The memory of Angela is with him, but no longer haunts him. She has brought him to a place of contemplation, a place to look out to sea at the endless horizon, a place to re-find the joy of reading, which they once shared.

The character masks do not speak, reflecting the traditional silence of the library space. The audience have to actively imagine the characters thoughts, which they understand through their actions and interaction with place, objects and each other. So, the ‘real’ location and objects of a site-specific performance help to bring the masks to life. Also these masks can project strong readable images across the large open spaces of the building. The musician performed live on violin and concertina, creating a focus for the audience and allowing a close interaction with the actors. Music draws out the meaning of the action and creates a rhythmic framework for the inner life of the characters.


Featured in a brochure for Culture Night at dlr Lexicon, and in press previews, online etc. Promoted widely through social media channels. 


Ciarán Taylor and Carpet Theatre previously created the site specific 50 Ways to Leave Dún Laoghaire at the Dún Laoghaire ferry terminal, and Sightless Cinema and Flood - a play in the dark, at Lexicon.

Ciarán Taylor is artistic director of Carpet Theatre. He studied directing at the University of Kent at Canterbury, and devising at Ecole Jacques Lecoq, Paris. He has written/devised and directed nineteen diverse productions with the company, which have toured Ireland and abroad. He has been Theatre Artist in Residence at Mermaid Theatre (Bray), and Leitrim Artist in Schools.

His Rock to the Top (2017-2018), commissioned for South Dublin County’s In Context 4 programme of public art, brought people out to experience the Dublin Mountains, and build a cairn over a full year. The Flood (with support from dlr / HSE Arts and Health Partnership), a multi-sensory audio play in the dark, toured Ireland in 2017. Stór a bilingual play for children, was commissioned by Dublin City Council Children’s Art in Libraries in 2016. Sightless Cinema (2014-2020) was first commissioned by dlr in 2014, and presents radio drama devised with blind people in cinemas. Silent Journeys (2015) was a large-scale community silent film recreation project in Kinnity County Offaly; Pigeon (2012) a wordless mask play; The Blanch (2008-2011) a hit satirical comedy inspired by the shopping centre; 50 Ways to Leave Dún Laoghaire, and Ferry Tales - site-specific performances at Dún Laoghaire and Dublin Port commissioned by DLR County Council; Wexford Fire Station Tour a performance in the station; and Two for Dinner for Two featured live cooking and music.
Ciarán has also acted at the Abbey Theatre, on national tours and on TG4 and RTÉ TV.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
Commissioning process Commissioned as part of the public art programme.
Project commission dates February 1, 2019 - September 20, 2019
Public Presentation dates September 20, 2019 - September 20, 2019
Artform Theatre
Art Practice Arts Participation
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 0 - 10000 euro
Project commission start date 01/02/2019
Project commission end date 20/09/2019
Location dlr LexIcon
County Dublin
Town Dún Laoghaire
Street Address Haigh Terrace, Moran Park.
Content contributor(s) Ciara King
Relationship to project Assistant Arts Officer
Public engagement

The artists involved interviewed a number of library staff in the research for making the play. Search had three full capacity public performances on 20 September 2019 for Culture Night. The audience was a very broad mix of ages and gender.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Carpet Theatre performer/devisers: Ruth Lehane, Karl Quinn and Felipe Jóia.

Live Music by Tim Doyle.

Masks by Pau Cirer.



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