Category Archives: IDGTF

Player’s Theatre: Montparnasse (IDGTF)

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Just as the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival 2017 is about to re-open its doors to the second week of the gay awareness feria, there is just one more play from the first week that deserves to be highlighted.

All the way from the Canadian province of Alberta to the Emerald Island, Theatre Outré brought to us Montparnasse, a 75 min extravaganza about two girlfriends living and experiencing the Années Folles – The Crazy Years. In the aftermath of the Belle Epoque a whole new era of art, culture and ideas has emerged. And the two Canadian ex-patriots, as well as best friends, found themselves in the midst of what was promising to be one of the most exciting eras to be alive.

We are in the city by the Seine. The aroma of vine, croissants and mixed paints is in the air. And Margaret (played by Katharine Zaborsky) is loving it. She has re-defined herself as a muse to some and a party friend to the others, but always being in the center of the elite Parisienne société: Miller, Modigliani, Hemingway, Chagall… Stripping off her clothes in front of them day after day, Margaret believed that she was doing something more, something bigger: she was inspiring the artists to create and to produce.

While her friend Amelia (played by Carolyn Ruether) didn’t find it all that amusing. A painter herself, she was more interested in the game of light and shadows, in the angles, in the positioning of the body… It seemed she had all the tools to do the job but the only missing piece seemed to be the vital one: the inspiration. Nevertheless, a new and unexpected, even a bit scary at the beginning, experience has been presented to Amelia. But is she ready to lay bare her body in order to learn from the best?

Montparnasse is an unexpectedly eccentric piece. It lets you witness not only the denuding of the body but also the stripping down of the very soul hiding behind it. The confidence and the security with which the actors present their work is both mesmerising and captivating. The Company has brought to the Dublin audience an absolutely beautiful recreation of Paris during the roaring twenties and the true portrayal of the spirit of the era.

Montparnasse is a brave piece of theatre that is not afraid to expose the human body in all its glowing beauty; it mixes well the picture with the entertaining story and some dreamy French tunes. With a small amount of props on stage our attention is completely overtaken by the plot and its masterful narration by the three actors.

When a play is worth bringing all the way from the other side of the ocean, it’s worth bringing! Montparnasse is easily one of the highlights of the first week of the festival. Prepare yourself for a play unlike anything else you’ve seen before!

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Filed under IDGTF, Montparnasse, Player's Theatre, Theatre Outre, Uncategorized

Pearse Centre Theatre: Wasting Paper (IDGTF)

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If you are looking for something to have a good old laugh, then look no further!

Presented as a special double bill deal (together with Nicole O’Connor’s Both Sides Now), Wasting Paper by Leah Moore is a real cracker like no other!

The play follows the story of Casey (played by Leah Moore), an eighteen year old gay teenager who is weeks away from doing her Leaving Cert exam. It looks like life is good for Casey. She is even some sort of a local celebrity, a modern day Shakespeare – Casey is a poem writer (the kind that gets invited to all the cool events and places like Electric Picnic and The Mansion House).

After a summer of success and adventure, Casey faces the last year of school before diving into the world of grown-up life. And there is one particular class she is more than eager to go back to – English language and literature, of course. But what a surprise to find out that her old teacher has been replaced by a younger version. The moment the 23 year old Tess walks into her first experience as a secondary school teacher, Casey immediately puts her eye on the forbidden fruit. And not that long passes before it becomes evident that Tess isn’t that uninterested in the tabu relationship herself.

This thirty minute piece wins its audience over not only with funny lines but also with some quite superb acting by both performers: Leah Moore and Ciara Smyth. Crispy delivery of the sharpened script, wonderfully fleshed out characters and loads of enthusiasm and energy make Wasting Paper truly stand out.

Wasting Paper really flies by before one can think twice, so cherish every minute of this female-driven experience. It’s really refreshing to see plays about both gay men and women as such an important issue touches both genders equally.

Wasting Paper, directed by Craig Connolly, runs in Pearse Center Theatre till May, 6th (with a 4PM and a 7.30PM performances on the final night). Fore more info or to book tickets: https://gaytheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873572855/events

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Filed under IDGTF, Pearse Centre Theatre, Squad Theatre Company, Uncategorized, Wasting Paper

The Cobalt Café: Away From Home

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The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival has been around for twelve years now. For two full weeks every year the festival presents an average of twenty five international and home-bred plays in a number of different venues around the Dublin city center. It’s not rare that some companies/artists return with new work, but it is indeed a novelty that a production that had already been shown at the festival would make a come back.

Away From Home, co-written and directed by Rob Ward and Martin Jameson, is one of those rare plays that has been invited back after a great reception by the audience during IDGTF in 2014.

Presented by the British Hope Theatre Company and Working Progress Theatre, the play tells us the story of Kyle (played by Rob Ward), a young gay escort who doesn’t work on Saturdays and is very much into football. One day, it happens to be a Saturday, Kyle gets a phone call from Vincent, the pimp, who talks him into having a client that night. Unable to resist the good money offer that the client is ready to pay, Kyle accepts it and gets the address of the hotel where the guest is staying. One can only imagine the shock the young escort might have gotten when the hotel door was opened by no more no less but a premier league footballer. Too bad he has just signed a contract to play for the team that Kyle despises; but the guy (whose name is never revealed) himself is nice and the sex is great, so one thing after the other and the two of them fall in love. And just as one might think that this story could have a happy ending, the terrible revelation comes out: the “mister premier league” can’t publicly disclose that he is homosexual in order not to harm his reputation. A lot is at stake, but what is he going to do? And what about Kyle and his feelings?

This highly spirited and extremely fast paced play is impossible not to like. Kyle’s character, brilliantly portrayed by Rob Ward, is hugely likable, funny and full of common human flaws. Within a time space of slightly over an hour, the crispy script brings us through all the possible emotions of a well penned story: we cry, we laugh, we  feel for Kyle, we hate the other guy, we want to know what’s going to happen next. The beauty of Away From Home also lies in the fact that it touches on a whole bunch of different subjects such as relationships between parents and children, true friendship and, of course, homosexuality but not only in life as we know it but also in sports, and especially in big sports.

Rob Ward as an actor is a pure joy to watch. Being it a one-man show, in the course of the play he portrays a whole range of various characters apart from Kyle (including Kyle’s pimp Vince and Kyle’s mother). And here is where good acting had been beautifully married to smart directing, all the characters are crystal clear and immensely enjoyably. Their individual physicality, tone of voice and mannerism make real people out of them. Ward holds us connected to Kyle’s world until the last word.

Away From Home is closing tonight at the Cobalt Cafe, but a play like this has all the chances to be brought back and even go on a tour. So, keep an eye on the updates. For more info: Away From Home at IDGTF

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Filed under Away from Home, Hope Theatre Company, IDGTF, Rob Ward, The Cobalt Cafe, Working Progress Theatre

The Players Theatre: 5 Guys Chillin’ (IDGTF)

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The second week of the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is in its full swing and already drawing to an end. Do not miss your last chance to see some of very inspiring and eye-opening plays brought by the festival this year. And here is another play to look out for: 5 Guys Chillin’, created by Em Lou Productions in association with The Kings Head Theatre.

There is this party, it’s called a chill out. It’s always hosted in somebody’s house by somebody who has  easy access to drugs, alcohol and sex toys. People come and people go as they please. Everyone is welcome, as long as they are strong, handsome, gay and interested in a casual intercourse with complete strangers. Something  a bit more serious might come out of it… but maybe not, probably not. Ah, well, it’s just a chill out.

Thanks to the modern world and technology there is  Grinder, an app specifically created for gay people to meet each other; there nothing easier than hosting a chill out. And that’s exactly what the four guys in the play are doing. Suddenly a new Pakistani guy decides to join them.

Drink after drink, line after line, injection after injection… the light suddenly starts to become brighter and crispier, the music is louder, and any sense of reality  is fast to abandon the room.

In between the kissing, dancing and lines of cocaine, the five guys start sharing their stories: stories from their lives, from the previous chill out experiences, stories of their happened and non-happened relationships.

5 Guys Chillin’ grips you from the very first second. Even thought at the beginning it’s not very clear where it’s all going: 5 half-naked good-looking guys are just having some fun. And then this strange feeling creeps in: as part of the audience you do feel like an intruder, who just crashed somebody else’s party.

But very quickly the mood changes, it darkens heavily . The stories shared are not funny and entertaining anymore. The bitter truth of real life hits without any caution. And even those moments that are told with a smile and a laugh, one can’t help but realise that that smile is nothing but a shield, a pretentious mask on a deeply troubled soul. It takes a lot of courage to share the truth, it takes a lot of drugs.

The matters that are discussed throughout the play vary from being a gay to being an asian gay in a city of predominantly white people. Is it racism not to want to date an asian person or is it simply a matter of personal preference? What about HIV? If you are having a casual intercourse with a stranger, do you have to let them know that you are HIV positive even if the chances that they might get it from you are extremely low? A relationship. What is a relationship in a world of chill outs?

Suddenly snorting a line goes from doing it simply for fun to doing it for the sake of forgetting the reality.

Drug abuse is another subject. When enough is enough? Can you build a relationship with a person who you have known mostly while being either drunk or drugged?

Peter Darney’s play is shockingly straight forward, it grabs you by the guts and doesn’t let go for 70 minutes; just like the actors on stage, all the stories (which are based on real life experiences) are stripped down to the painful vulnerable truth. The ridiculousness of the situation only adds to the already overloaded atmosphere in the auditorium.

These stories need to be heard. If challenging the audience is what makes great theatre, than 5 guys chillin’ definitely got it. All the more reasons to admire the play is the absolutely brilliant cast. Very strong and memorable performances given by all five actors. The tension was beautiful very gradually created and held until the very last second.

5 Guys Chillin’ runs in The Players Theatre (at the Trinity College) until May 14th. For more info or to book tickets, please visit: 5 Guys Chillin’

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Filed under 5 Guys Chillin', Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, Em Lou Productions, IDGTF, Peter Darney, The Kings Head Theatre

Interview with Colette Cullen

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“YES – An Entertaining Thoughtful Drama.”

The first week of International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is drawing to its end; and just as we say good-bye to the first bunch of theatre companies who brought their amazing work to Dublin, we welcome with open arms the second half of the cherry pie.

On her last day on rehearsals, I sit down to have a chat with Colette Cullen, the author and director of Yes, a brand new dramatic comedy about four people and their lives before and after the Marriage Referendum 2015. This year’s Dublin Gay Festival almost coincides with the first anniversary since Irish people voted YES to Marriage Equality.

Having participated in the IDGTF last year with her play Blind Date (which started out as a film), Colette isn’t new to the festival but a happy returner. YES is her second full length play for the IDGTF.

Having lived in London in the 90s, Colette attended a film school there, soon securing herself a job as part of a documentary team. Even though she had a deep interest in film and television, working with stories of real people made her feel uneasy and even intrusive. But soon Colette found a creative way out that allowed her not only to pursue her passion but also to keep telling stories. “I was quite interested in fiction”, says Colette “there I could take responsibility.” And soon the first film script was born. Nevertheless, she didn’t stop there, Colette also started directing both her own and other people’s work. Her credits to date include writing for one of Ireland’s longest running TV series – Fair City.

After years of living and working in London, Colette decided to return to Ireland. Here, in her home country, she enjoyed going to the theatre and seeing different productions; but coming from a middle-class working family, she just never thought that her own work could be good enough to stage in one of Ireland’s theaters. Colette also admits that she always thought it was much harder to break into theatre rather than into film.

But, Ireland is a fast-growing country with opportunities for everyone. Apart from the big mainstream theaters, there are a number of festivals and events that allow those theatre makers who are still establishing themselves to showcase their work: the Fringe Festival, Collaborations, Scene and Heard and even Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.

“I wanted to write stories, I wanted to work with actors, so I thought: why not?”, says Colette about her first feelings about breaking into Irish theatre scene. Moreover, Colette tells me that she has always enjoyed writing and editing, while shooting scenes has felt somewhat more technical.

In 2013 she made the decision to go back to college to do a MA in theatre directing. And even though a bit dubious about her decision at first, Colette absolutely loved the experience. “Even though it’s very academic, it makes you think about what you are doing, look at other playwrights and different directors”, says Colette “and that’s how I started directing”.

On that course, Colette met Laura Murphy with whom she developed her first play Beasts that was presented as part of Collaborations Festival in the Smock Alley Theatre last year. As part of the course, Colette also collaborated with Fishamble Theatre Company and worked as an AD on their productions of Spinning and Little Thing, Big Thing.

For a good director, it’s crucial to see as much diverse theatre as possible. “I like text-based work, but I also go to see a lot of dance and improvised work”, says Colette. “The psychology, the characters that would be me my approach.”, says she, at the same time admitting that she also enjoys working with different people and learning from them and their approaches, which sometimes can be radical from your own.

When it comes to theatre, Colette has always directed her own work and Yes isn’t an exemption. As a director, she enjoys spending time in the rehearsal room witnessing the process of a play turning from page to stage.

Bringing up a production has never been an easy task. On the last day of rehearsals I ask Colette to reflect on what has been the most challenging and the most enjoyable for her as a director and as a playwright during the whole process.

“I think casting is always difficult”, says Colette, “Sometimes it’s difficult to cast gay characters. I don’t care what the sexuality of my cast is, I just look for the best actors to work with. Another challenge is doing it with no money.” Colette tells me that all the plays she has done so far has been profit-share.”Everyone is working for free and it puts a lot of pressure on you. You end up doing a lot of publicity and production yourself.”

As for the most enjoyable: “Seeing your work coming alive”, says Colette with a smile. “I’m just thinking it’s such a privilege. You start with an idea. You have to do a lot of research and think about it. When you do work, it’s important how you represent people. When it’s something as big as this, you feel a kind of responsibility to the subject. You have to follow your instinct. You can’t think of what people are going to think about this and that. You just have to write it. Having a feeling about something and then seeing it coming alive on stage is really exciting; just knowing that it came out of your imagination.”

The idea for writing Yes came to Colette during the Marriage Referendum in May last year. Working on a play for the IDGTF at the time, she didn’t have as much time as she would have liked to to take part in the events surrounding the Vote Yes campaign. But Colette did have an opinion and her own vision of the situation that she wanted to explore regarding the referendum. “There was a lot of issues that the campaign brought up”, says Colette, who felt like some people were a bit condescending about voting yes while all that people who campaigned wanted was to live in an equal society.  Colette admits that she was scared to see the results. “I was scared of putting myself up there. I remember on the day of the results writing on Facebook something like: what a great feeling, I woke up this morning, I looked around and two thirds of my fellow citizens were standing with me“, she says as her eyes get watery, a year after she still feels emotional about it.

Four different characters – four different stories: a mother (played by Denise Quinn) campaigning for her gay son – explores the family issues and how parents always want to protect their children; an elder gay man (played by David Grant), who lost his partner to the AIDS in the 90s and through him we can witness the whole history of homosexuality in Ireland; a lesbian woman (played by Andrea Cleary) in a long term relationship, who is the odd one in her family on the path of discovering what life will be like after the referendum; a young gay man (played by Andy Gallagher) from down the country who hasn’t come out to his family yet.

“I wanted to look at different generations and what they learnt from each other”, says Colette. “The play is looking at how homophobia affected all the characters. It’s also about families. You can cry, you can laugh; it’s entertaining and it’s kinda happy-ending but what I’m hoping is that people will be thinking about it afterwards”, says Colette. “I don’t want people to come in and think that I’m beating them over the head. I want for the play to be entertaining; I want to celebrate the referendum but look behind it, too.”

“We want people who don’t normally come to see plays to come and see our shows”, says Colette. She tells me that it’s crucial for her to bring people into theatre; drama has to be accessible and inclusive for everyone. For some people it might be the first play they see but, hopefully, it won’t be their last one; maybe it will motivate them to go and see other productions that are out there.

So, I ask Colette what makes YES different from other plays presented at the festival. “It has quite a big cast of four”, she says “it’s entertaining but, at the same time, it’s a drama. It’s a drama with comical elements.” Colette regards the festival as a great opportunity for different artists to present their work.

YES, brought and produced by Home You Go Productions runs in The Pearse Center from May 9th till May 14th. For more info or to book tickets: YES.

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Filed under Colette Cullen, Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, Home You Go Productions, IDGTF, Interview with, YES

Dood Paard: Botox Angels (IDGTF).

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Wonderful news for all the theatre lovers out there. Dublin Gay Theatre Festival has opened yesterday; and, as the tradition goes, the first week is filled with little (and big) gems of gay theatre from all over the world, which in itself is an amazing opportunity to see world class work without leaving Dublin.

I opened the festival for myself with what happened to be one of the most mind-blowing performances this year so far: Botox Angels brought over and presented by the corky Dutch theatre company Dood Paard.

Botox Angles is unlike any other play you have ever seen. Botox Angles is a piece about three women who dream about living together while the society, and its far from liberating rules, stands in their way. And, as they put it themselves, it’s not “I love you” anymore, it’s “I love you both”.

The piece strikes from the moment one enters the auditorium. The famous “Una donna senza uomo” is playing on the speakers; there are three half naked girls, wearing fake blond wigs and screaming make-up, who are greeting the audience each in their own way.

“…Such a beautiful harmony of chromosomes” the actresses truly are. During the slightly over an hour piece we witness Manja, Janneke and Ellen mock-interview each other (the microphone is a separate subject all together) on a number of crucially important topics: love, life, women in society, body, relationships, feminism. Each character has a very strong position and an amazingly defined character. In addition to that, every character has her bit of wisdom that she shares with the audience in a very light but deeply attracting way that one can’t help but listen to. Be it the body language or the soft tone of voice, the conversations are insanely charming. Every monologue in this piece can easily be ripped apart for quotes.

The fun doesn’t not stop there! In between the interviews, the actresses re-enact some of the famous pieces created by world famous female artists. It goes from slightly spooky Marina Abramovic’s Art must be beautiful, Artists must be beautiful artwork to absolutely shocking and feminist-though prvoking Yoko Ono’s 1964 Cut Piece, where the girl is being stripped from her dress by other people cutting random pieces from it with big scissors.

Now imagine all those highly feminist proclamations being  spoken from a huge queen sized bed covered with just as huge cozy  dark blue blanket. A boudoir conversation it is not.

The actresses, who play various parts, change the clothes and put the wigs on and off right there in front of the audience.  It’s such an open performance that requires not only a high level of professionalism but also an enormous amount of confidence, trust in oneself and courage. Many actors have confined at different stages of their acting careers that theatre gave them the desired opportunity to hide under an invisible mask, to become somebody else. Botox Angels is a play that requires something more than having balls, it requires having a spine to perform a piece like that, where the actors use their own names and they are literally stripped down to their birth robes while performing.

Botox Angels is a piece of extremely refreshing theatre that reminds us that underneath every script there is somebody’s story; and, there is truth that cries for being told, for being heard and finally understood. This play is about women who yearn for being heard. They are all different in all possible ways: their bodies are different, their perception of the world is different, their ability to express themselves is different; but in the end this difference is what makes them such impossibly beautiful people.

It seems like Botox Angels just has it all. Apart from the phenomenal script and great acting, the play is filled with wonderfully choreographed movements.

Botox Angles by Dood Paard is part of International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, it runs in The Teachers Club until May 7th. For more info or to book tickets, please, visit: Botox Angles at International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.

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Filed under Botox Angels, Dood Paard, Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, IDGTF, Teacher's Club