Apr 16, 2024

No Clú Collective Allows for Audience Interpretation in the Absence of Words

Laura O'Callaghan speaks to Clara Sinclair and Louis Maxwell about No Clú Collective's experimental vision for theatre.

Laura O'CallaghanTheatre Editor

With a sold-out debut show at Scene and Heard festival under its belt, No Clú Collective is widening Dublin’s perspective on what theatre can look like. Co-founded by Clara Sinclair and Louis Maxwell as a space to facilitate the development of their show, how do you remember me?, the collective finds its niche in telling authentic, human stories through experimental physical theatre and dance.

Founders and childhood friends Maxwell and Sinclair sat down with The University Times to chat about the risks involved with experimental theatre, how to find fulfilment in your passion, and if an audience member needs to be ‘dance literate’ to appreciate the collective’s work.

Sinclair approached Maxwell with the idea to produce her show, how do you remember me?, and the pair decided to take it one step further and create a collective to house their collaborative work. During our conversation, Maxwell stressed how important it was for them to have a single brand identity for the longevity of the venture. The intention being to neatly avoid the social media affliction of an account living “for two months” before it “goes and dies”. No Clú, a name cleverly hinting at the fresh-faced nature of the group, ‘clú’ meaning reputation in Irish, was attractive to the pair for several reasons. Other than a subtle genuflect to Reputation, Maxwell’s favourite Taylor Swift album, Sinclair described the incentive behind the name as holding a mixture of “colloquial Irish-isms”, and a playful irony that really summed up the work they intended to do with No Clú.


Every young adult in Dublin is familiar with the sinking feeling that grows in your gut when a pal, acquaintance or stranger begins describing their five-year plan. When every other person seems to have secured another wonderful new internship for the summer, having a million possibilities but no solid end goal can feel flimsy and breakable. Sinclair’s diligent trial-and-error path to discovering that choreography gave her the best sense of fulfilment in life speaks to the merit of having a fluid approach to the future. After finishing her degree in Barcelona studying musical theatre, Sinclair decided to pivot into dance and worked freelance teaching choreography. After a four-month stint training at Broadway Dance Centre in New York, she was certain where her ambitions lay. 

To speak or to die? To die is favourable according to Sinclair when it comes to her work. She and Maxwell spoke on audience agency in unconventional theatre and their ongoing debate on whether words should be included in their plays or not. From an outside perspective, the prospect of understanding physical theatre makes for an intimidating evening out. But Sinclair promised that it isn’t required that an audience member be ‘dance literate’ for them to engage with her stories. Defending her vetoed stance on their debate, Sinclair felt that the omission of words in how do you remember me? “lent itself to the fact that the story was complicated”. With various perspectives and changing timelines, inspired by a “hodgepodge, a melting pot of a million different things that I’ve witnessed”, sharing a “strong kind of a map” for the audience to follow and giving them that freedom to interpret was a strength of the show. 

Gauging audience reception is a huge part of Scene and Heard, and Sinclair and Maxwell were comforted to know that, yes, the audience had gotten it. That’s one for “sad girl synth pop” and zero for words. Maxwell shared his wish down the line to develop and collaborate with a composer “depending on funding”. Sinclair agreed, saying that “the sound that we have at the moment is definitely correct, but we’d love to get our own music to make it our own story completely”.

The misconception that an audience is bound to feel out of their depth when faced with physical theatre remains, and investors are reluctant to take major risks when it comes to dance. Maxwell described his frustration at seeing the same people get the same opportunities and how he’d love to see more risks being made when it comes to funding to “give new voices the chance to grow and get better.” Movement-based storytelling is a creative challenge, a collaboration between the writers, the dancers and the audience to create a unique experience out of every performance: “It’s about adapting it and communicating in a different sense.” Sinclair and Maxwell look forward to developing how do you remember me? in the future and telling as many “weird and wonderful” stories as possible that challenge the parameters of conventional theatre.

Sign Up to Our Weekly Newsletters

Get The University Times into your inbox twice a week.