Timmy Creed's 'Spliced'
By Cian O’Connell
Timmy Creed had an idea. A few years spent away from the comforting environs of Bishopstown GAA Club afforded Creed time and space to reflect.
Drama and acting were suddenly in Creed’s mind, hurling just wasn’t as central anymore. After much deliberation, though, Creed wanted to find a way to combine his two worlds.
Creed was part of a talented crop of Bishopstown dual players, who accumulated medals and memories, especially during their late teenage years. Bonds were formed, friendships remain, but when Creed turned 25 or so, acting became relevant in his life.
The process of producing a play, ‘Spliced’, eventually commenced. “I wanted to write so I thought about my friends, I'd never get them to go to see a play, and I thought could I write something that is about them that could try to make them engage with art on their level,” Creed explains.
“Also on a level that anyone can engage with and maybe make them question their boundaries regarding the things that they do. There is this whole other thing. I've learned loads from art and acting.
“Art basically replicates life as opposed to you fully focusing on sport - the Premier League, La Liga, and basketball and NFL.
“When you play sport to a high level you really appreciate other athletes. That is what you are trying to do, you are trying to achieve. You are inspired by top class athletes. You don't really have the time or the knowhow to get into something like art. That is the reason I wanted to make something for GAA fellas.
“They could go to a play and say this is actually about me and think maybe I can learn something from going to a play. That is what started the whole thing really.”
Now the project continues for Creed, who hopes to raise funds on ahead of a performance at the Dublin Fringe Theatre Festival in September. A handball alley in Green Street near the Four Courts will provide a unique backdrop. “Instead of bringing it into a theatre I thought about bringing the theatre to the sports arena, into the handball alley,” Creed reckons.
“It just makes more sense contextually. You can just show the sport then. I can just hit the ball off the wall.”
It has been a curious month for Creed because he unexpectedly returned to the Cork hurling playing fields last Saturday evening planting a goal for Bishopstown in their Junior Championship win over St Vincent’s at Ballinlough.
“I'm writing it at the moment, it is a very interesting process because I haven't written before,” Creed says. “It is good. I still have the summer because it isn't on until the third week in September. I'm not really taking on any other work.
“I went back playing three weeks ago, I found that very interesting, the experience of me going back playing GAA having spent some time away.
“It was mad, I came on in the Junior Championship on Saturday night in hurling and I scored a goal. I never really score goals so it was mad, there was this recontribution to the club that I hadn't felt.”
That was hugely important for Creed because for a while he had drifted from the game to explore. “I played GAA since I was about five up until I was 25 or 26, I was mad into it as a teen. I was a sub really until I was about 15 and then I got fairly handy and I was on different teams for years.
“We ended up winning two minor Championships, two Under 21s, I won a Munster Football with the School, Under 15 and 16 Cork County medals. I went to school in Colaiste An Spiorad Naomh in Bishopstown, I went to primary school in Gaelscoil Ui Riada. Then I played for Bishopstown the whole way up.
“I went to UCC to do engineering, but when I was finished college I got a part in a film. The GAA had been completely central to my life. All my mates and the closest friends I have now are all from the GAA. That is the binding thing that keeps us close. We had all these big, big victories when we were younger.
“We became a very tight bunch of guys because we were winning. You become this super young fella because we were the best team in the county for four or five years. Between Under 15 and 21 we were the danger team. You are walking around the place with your chest out because you are on the best team. That breeds camaraderie.”
An opportunity to star in a film called My Brothers altered much in Creed’s life. Following stints in Canada and Oxford where he studied acting, Creed came back and tried to thunder back into action with Bishopstown. “When I came back I had this bug in my head about acting, I got an agent in Dublin and started acting,” Creed remarks.
“I went back playing hurling for maybe a year or a year and a half, but it felt the two worlds didn't really communicate with each other. I needed to be in Dublin when I was acting and I felt it was nearly a different way of being. I felt like I had to make a choice between one or the other. I wanted to as well, I wanted to experience something that was outside of it.”
While away from the green fields of Cork, Creed wondered. His friends were still there, but changes occurred. “You lose that closeness with the guys from the GAA,” Creed maintains. “The language we speak then isn't as clearcut as it is when you are playing GAA. I felt things became a bit more difficult.
“It is hard being an actor anyway because you are on your own, you don't have that team set-up you'd have in another job. You are on your own. When you are raised in the team dynamic, when you step outside of that I found that very difficult because when you are playing hurling with a team it is all team driven.
“You don't even have time to think about your individual self. You are training three nights a week, you are in the gym, you are always connecting with people. That is brilliant, it makes you socially engaged, but there is this solo side to you that doesn't get any treatment when you are in a team.
“That is partly what the play is about. I'm very interested in that. Is there another life in you that doesn't actually get the same time because you aren't exploring it?”
Ultimately that is what ‘Spliced’ focuses on. ‘It was only in the last four years that I started questioning myself more about what I wanted,” Creed comments.
“When I was playing sport I never had any trouble with depression or anything like that, I don't have it since then, but it is part of being an artist that it is more difficult being on your own as opposed to being in this set-up which decides what you do at the weekend for you.
“Mine was built around that, but then I ended up outside of it. I just found that difficult. I just felt a loneliness from guys I was closest with, even though I could see them and touch them and talk to them, we didn't speak the same language that we were used to. That was difficult and it is difficult. Some guys would be my closest friends, but we don't have that same closeness.”
The remainder of the summer will be busy for Creed, but it is something that he is embracing. Getting Spliced ready for the Fringe is the mission, and it will be accomplished. A dream will turn to reality for Creed. “The name of the show is Spliced: when the hurley breaks you put a splice on it,” Creed says.
“Spliced means the fusing together of two things to make one thing. The idea is that there are two sides to every story: the player and the non player; the commitment and freedom; the liberation and the confinement; the direction and the lack of direction. There is another side, I'm just trying to explore the other side of the player that we never see talked about because the Championship is so massive.
“It is all about the games and performance whereas the spliced element is actually the fusing of the two. We forget about one side of ourselves to front another side of ourselves.”
Fergus Tighe’s Clash of the Ash had hurling on screen 30 years ago. Creed is now bringing hurling and drama to a handball alley in Dublin - sport and the arts remain a potent mix.
**To donate to the 'Spliced' project visit https://fundit.ie/project/funders/spliced