Horrible Creature

Sarah Ryan in ‘Horrible Creature’.  DOP: Will Humphris

Sarah Ryan in ‘Horrible Creature’.

DOP: Will Humphris



In 1915, James Joyce and Nora Barnacle travelled with their young children Giorgio and Lucia to Switzerland to escape the turmoil of
World War I. Lucia later trained as a dancer and performed throughout Europe. Her career ended when, in the early 1930s, she was forced into psychiatric care and underwent treatment at various hospitals across Europe.

Horrible Creature is the second in a proposed trilogy of films directed by Áine Stapleton (dance and film artist) and is filmed at locations
in Switzerland where Lucia spent time. The first, Medicated Milk, challenged the accepted biography of Lucia’s life and considered the complexity of mental instability.

Here, Lucia’s own writing, interpreted by a cast of international dance artists, conjures her world between 1915 and 1950. The film fearlessly explores her difficult family life, her unproven illness, and her undoubted talent.

Áine Stapleton (director and producer):

I recently created a second experimental feature film about Lucia Joyce, which premiered at the Irish Film Institute, Dublin, in June 2019. The film is inspired by Lucia's life in Switzerland between 1915 and the late 1930s. Each scene is choreographed and filmed at locations where Lucia would have spent time - including Locarno where she holidayed as a child, Zurich where she attended school, and Prangins Hospital in Nyon where she received psychiatric treatment in the 1930's. 

I am committed to offering Lucia's story as truthfully as possible. Although many of her writings were destroyed following her death, the scenes and movement within the film have been developed as much as possible from Lucia's own words and experiences.

The team-

Will Humphris (cinematographer) is based in England. He began his career in the film industry as a runner for RSA Films, working with Tony Scott and making sure he had everything he needed... including his Monte Cristo Cigars!! From the very first film shoot that Will worked on he knew he wanted to be a Cameraman. He worked his way up from Camera Trainee to Cinematographer, he was very fortunate to have worked with some of the worlds best - Emmanuel Lubezki on The Children of Men, Robert Elswit on Syriana, Dion Beebe on Nine and Rodrigo Prieto on Alexander to name but a few.

Will has now shot four feature films of his own, along with many commercial, documentaries and music videos.

Directors (Partial):  Sophie Ebrard, Lisle Turner, Fred Rowson, Sikander Goldau, Russell Tickner, Greg Hackett, Jonathan K Harris, Scott Elliott, Jak O’Hare, Carl Addy, John Turner, Leo Woodhead, Adam Clitheroe, Sam Huntley, Susannah Hayes, David Campbell, Will Mann, Tupaq Felber, Russell Appleford, Phil Robson, Guy Soulsby, Dan Williams, Yann Mabile, Christopher Granier-Detterre, Pushpendra Misra, Chiman Rahimi, Andrew Hull, Chrstel Chaudet, Will McGregor, Anthony Dickenson, Owen Trevor, James Gooding, Noah Harris, Cristiana Miranda, Cassiano Prado, Lucas Shannon, James & James, Annad Surapur, Jack Cole, Keith McCarthy, Bauddhayan Mukerji, Blin & Mathe, Karen Cunningham, Ben Hume-Patton, Tomas Leach, Chris Wood, James Griffiths, Chris Hewitt, Charlie Crane, Johnny Green, Agustine Alberdi. 

Michelle Boulé (performer) is a “Bessie” Award winning dance artist based in NY whose work addresses the physical expression of consciousness. She has received recent commissions, presentations, and residency fellowships from The Chocolate Factory, Met Breuer, Danspace Project, River to River, American Realness, ISSUE Project Room, Movement Research at Judson Church, The Kitchen, MacDowell, Yaddo, Bemis, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Movement Research. Her work has also toured to Chicago, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Marcos, Winnipeg, Dublin, and Latvia. Awards include a New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship, New Music USA Grant, and Boekelheide Creativity Award. As a performer, she has collaborated with Miguel Gutierrez (2001-15), Bebe Miller, John Jasperse, Donna Uchizono, John Scott, and Deborah Hay, amongst others. Boulé has taught technique, improvisation, and creative practice workshops throughout N. and S. America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and is currently faculty at The New School and Movement Research. She maintains a clinical practice in energy and consciousness-based healing as a Certified BodyTalk Practitioner.

Sarah Ryan (performer) is a dance artist based in Dublin. She has worked as a dance performer with a wide range of choreographers, directors and companies from different artistic backgrounds; these include Irish Modern Dance Theatre, Iseli-Chiodi Company, Laura Murphy, Opera Theatre Company, Ponydance, Philip Connaughton, John O’Brien, Jessie Keenan, Liz Roche, Croí Glan, Cie Willie Dorner, amongst others. These works have been included in the Dublin Dance Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, Cork Midsummers Festival, as well as national tours. She has also worked as an assistant for numerous choreographers on the creation and development of new work including work for the Abbey Theatre, as well as exploring collaboration with different artists for the creation of interdisciplinary immersive performances. Before settling in Ireland Sarah performed and choreographed work in Nantes, France after completing her training at the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance.

Céline Larrère (performer) from France. Céline cultivates living-moving objects through various media -dance, voice, performance, installation, photography, writing, cooking, in solo or collaboration. She plants her movement researches into the compost of singular and common experiences offered by our HomoSapiens existence. Her practice roots itself in stimulating and softening the attention to make imaginary choreographic terroirs emerge. Considering life as a movement, a perpetual metamorphosis of the instnat, her dance indefinitely to answer the question : What is moving us and what are we moving ?

David Best and Ed Chivers, two members of UK group ‘Fujiya and Miyagi' (soundtrack). Fujiya & Miyagi are a British group formed in BrightonEast Sussex in 2000. The current line-up consists of David Best (vocals and guitar), Stephen Lewis (synths and vocals), Ed Chivers (drums), Ben Adamo & Ben Farestuedt (bass and vocals). They have released seven studio albums: Electro Karaoke in the Negative Style (2002), TransparentThings (2006), Lightbulbs (2008), Ventriloquizzing (2011), Artificial Sweeteners (2014), Fujiya & Miyagi (2017), and Different Blades from the Same Pair of Scissors (2017). They are currently signed to Impossible Objects of Desire worldwide.

Rebecca Warner (Voiceover artist). Rebecca has an MA in Drama and Theatre from NUI Galway. Recent credits include PALS and Vardo with the award winning ANU Productions. 

The film is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. I am also extremely grateful for the support of The Irish Embassy in Bern, Prangins Hospital in Nyon, the amazing Ticino Film Commission, Tanzarchiv Zurich, Dance Ireland, Fringe Lab at Dublin Fringe, Arts and Disability Ireland, The James Joyce Centre Dublin, and The Irish Film Institute Dublin. Also, thanks to everyone at the Zurich James Joyce Foundation for their ongoing support and advice, and the various generous and friendly locations throughout Switzerland!