Songs in her suitcase

Performed Live By The Late Agnes Bernelle

Winner of a Guinness Living Dublin Award and an Arts Council Project Award, supported by Dublin City Council

About the show

Bernelle’s autobiography, The Fun Palace, ends in 1963 when she left the stages of Soho and the West End to raise her family in Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan. The story of her ‘open’ marriage, single motherhood and success in resuming her solo career remains untold…until now. Through an aesthetically ambitious combination of puppetry, mask, documentary and original film images, set design and popular and classical music Púca Puppets, in association with Project, and one of Agnes’ collaborators: Philip Chevron of the Pogues, make it possible for her to return and share some of these experiences, alongside others from her biography – fleeing Hitler’s Berlin; refugee life in London; or her work as a fifteen year-old secret agent for the American O.S.S. Puppetry makes possible a reincarnation of her fantastic cabaret performances, featuring songs by Brecht and Weill, Waits and the quirky Ringelnatz. Now that she’s no longer bound by the limits of reality, we find her past and present mingle freely with the worlds of song and stage. In assisting Bernelle’s incredible performance from beyond the grave, Púca Puppets continue their pioneering work in theatrical magic realism celebrated in their last show for adults, the acclaimed, Mary Mary’s Last Dance.

By Niamh Lawlor, Directed by Leticia Agudo, Musical Director Philip Chevron.

Produced by Púca Puppets, in association with Project Arts Centre.

Agnes Bernelle (“Performer” and Inspiration) link to biography

Co-production, Direction, Film: Leticia Agudo
Performance, Making, Research and Scripting:
Niamh Lawlor
Musical Direction and Original Music Composition: Philip Chevron
Piano Composition: Bairbre O’Sullivan
Set and Lighting Design: Marcus Costello
Costume Design: Marie Tierney
Production Management and Technical Operation: Maeve Laverty
Stage Management, Technical Operation and Ass. Maker: Samantha Mc Caffrey
Sound Post-production: Niall O’Sullivan (dqb soundrecording) and Nick Robbins.
Set Construction: Peter Anderson and Stephen Connoly, A&A Engineering; Leigh Duggan
Tour Booking: Anne Appathurai and Willie White of Project
Publicity and Marketing: Doireann Gillan and Dairne O’Sullivan of Project
Bicycling Child: Isabel Plazas-Lawlor
Dashing Lover with Cat: Maurice Craig himself.
Voice Coach: Susie Kennedy
Graphic Design: Margaret Lonergan
Photography: Ros Kavanagh
Documentatio: Blanca Xóchitl Aguerre

Song Authors, Translators and Composers: Adele Anderson, Rudolf Bernauer, Agnes Bernelle, Marc Blitzstein, Bertolt Brecht, Philip Chevron, Beverley Cross, Michael Dress, Hanns Eisler, Michael Feingold, Dorothea Gotfurt, Friedrich Hollander, Walter Jurmann, Dillie Keane, Walter Kollo, Cole Porter, Joachim Ringelnatz, Tom Waits, Frank Wedekind and Kurt Weill

With Thanks to Bernelle’s Family and friends


‘…Púca Puppets have mounted an ambitious production that is conceptually right on target: loathe to let someone else interpret her life story, Agnes Bernelle, German emigrant, actress, model, and bon vivant, rises from her bier and takes us through her life and times, via story, song, and moving image…The puppets are extraordinary…and the way in which Lawlor controls the action of each of Agnes’ personas, and yet becomes subsumed by them, is incredible, and therein lay the strength of the show….Costello’s six-sided, spinning environment, with doors that fold and unfold again to create even more space, is truly innovative, and its sides of scrim show off director …Agudo’s films extremely well….Watching Lawlor waltz with Agnes towards the end of the show, one got the feeling that the heart of it all was right there, between creator, creation, and the woman who inspired it all…’
Susan Conley, WOW! 29.6.04

‘Lawlor is a superb puppeteer and puppet-maker…When the puppets sing in Bernelle’s own voice…the effect is sublime’
Karen Fricker, The Guardian, May 31st 2004

2004 Performance Dates, and venues:

Project, Dublin – May 26th – June 5th @ 8.15pm. Preview May 25th.
Garage Theatre, Monaghan – June 22nd
Draiocht, Blanchardstown – June 23rd
Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray – June 24th
Friar’s Gate Theatre, Kilmallock – July 8th
St John’s Theatre, Listowel – July 9th
Linenhall, Castlebar – August 4th
Feile An Phobail, Belfast –August 6th
Pavilion, Dunlaoghaire – August 8th