Tag Archives: ireland

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 But what a surprise to find out that her old teacher has been replaced by a younger version.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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Scene and Heard Festival: Syrius

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If I had to describe Syrius with one only phrase, it would definitely be: the beauty in simplicity.

A sharp 20 min piece about a Syrian refugee on her unintended journey to Ireland presented by Rosebuds Theatre Company is indeed an awakening production. Through beautifully choreographed dance and movement Romana Testasecca tells us the story of Rasha, a young Syrian woman who is forced to flee her though beloved but self-destroying motherland in search of a more peaceful future.

A play like Syrius shows us perfectly how the almost complete lack of spoken words can sometimes even benefit and enhance a performance. One image equals one hundred words. We all live in the same world; we are all human beings who, when really want, can communicate with each other without the need for words at all. Protest banners, the white wedding veil, the headscarf, the tent, the paper boat… all these things are not only props or attributes that help move the story forward but they are also strong easily recognised international symbols.

Even though the actress does remain silent, towards the end of the piece there is an audio recording involved; the beautiful thing is that we can hear both Arabic and the English translation of it speaking almost simultaneously. It gives Rasha that little extra of being a real fleshed out person, even though she is just a generalised character. But the truth remains the same: there are hundreds of Rashas out there who have lost everything from their family and friends to the sense of belonging.

And if we want to be completely honest: there is a bit of Rasha in all of us.

Directed by Karen Killeen and choreographed by Stephanie Dufresne, Syrius is a play that isn’t afraid of challenges: be it in the structure of the piece or what lies behind the story. Rosebuds TC didn’t only create a touching piece of theatre, they brought the reality of today’s world into the art of performing. And isn’t it what good theatre is supposed to do: reflect the current situation we live in?

Syrius ran as part of Dublin’s Scene and Heard Festival in the Smock Alley Theatre from Feb. 24th to 26th. For more info about the production, you can read my interview with the woman behind it all – Romana Testasecca.

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Scene and Heard Festival: Interview with Romana Testasecca – Syrius

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Another day – another show. The second week of Scene and Heard Festival has already begun and we are talking human interest, international crisis and physical theatre now. All combined in one: SYRIUS, a new movement piece produced and performed by Romana Testasecca in association with Rosebuds Theatre Company.

In the interview below Romana talks about why she chose such a difficult subject as Syrian civil war and its effects on common civil Syrians; Romana also explains why she decided to present her new play as a movement piece rather than anything else.

SYRIUS will run for three nights only from Feb 24th to 26th in the Smock Alley Theatre’s Main Space. To book the tickets: http://entertainment.ie/show-/Smock-Alley-Theatre/Scene-Heard-Syrius/event-2789898.htm

 

Tell me a little bit about the piece. Is it your first solo movement performance?

1. We’re very excited to present this piece on behalf of Rosebuds, Karen Killeen and I (co-
founders) have never worked on anything like this before. The process has been very interesting and a real eye-opener. The piece is centred around the story of a young Syrian woman, Rasha, who is forced to leave her country. The piece starts just before Rasha takes part in a peaceful protest against Bashar al-Assad which leads to Rasha’s imprisonment. In prison she realises that “the Syria she knows has gone” and it’s time for her to leave. This is my first solo piece and I am very grateful that it will be taking place at Smock Alley Theatre main space to meet its first audience this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6.30 pm. (24th -26th Feb)

What made you decide to create a movement piece? Why this genre in particular?

2. Movement is extremely effective especially when the subject matter is so difficult for us to talk about. In many catastrophic situations, like the Syrian civil war happening right now and the subsequent difficulties thousands of refugees are facing, people find it hard to express their feelings about it. It’s hard to comprehend, we say things like “there are no words”, we find it hard to process and vocalise painful news. When matters are beyond our control and we feel helpless it is hard to express our thoughts. Sometimes a visceral bodily reaction is all we have.

Who and how came up with the story behind the piece? Tell me a little bit about the creation of the piece.

3. The process started from an idea I had about telling a specific story of a refugee and the circumstances that led up to that happening. Conversations between myself and the director Karen Killeen gave a structure and arch to the piece. After a lot of research, we pin-pointed what was going to happen, section by section. We then brought in our wonderful choreographer Stephanie Dufresne. She shaped a lot of the movement for each section. We have never had a written piece. You can’t express movement on paper. There was a lot of filming and watching back and repeating over and over. Myself and Karen rehearsed and devised all in one.

What are the main elements that can be achieved through movement and sound that wouldn’t be as noticeable or as enhanced if done in a more traditional style (i.e. a play or a monologue)?

4. Different feelings bring about movement in the body. Sometimes thoughts are hard to elaborate through words. You can achieve a certain flow when you’re moving and that sequence of movements can mean something to one person and a different thing to someone else. People can interpret movement in different ways and that’s what makes it so interesting and unique. Movement connects a different part of us which is very rarely exposed.

The sound, designed by the talented Garret Hynes, is extremely helpful in conveying the message and feeding the narrative. The tricky part of abstract movement is that when it gets too abstract people don’t know what’s going on. When you are invested in the story and you’re creating it, you know what is going on so you feel it’s obvious. You aim to leave the audience as free as possible but you can’t give them too little either or you’ll lose them. It has to be balanced out and the sound provides a great equilibrium and serves as a guide for the audience. The audience then connects the visual with the audio.

What are the main challenges // advantages for you rehearsing and performing the piece?

5. The process is very free and liberating. There are no boundaries but if anything doesn’t work, we’re not afraid of letting it go or moving sections around so that the pieces fit together. It’s good to peel back and get to the core of what we’re trying to achieve. As a performer, you don’t always get the chance to move freely in the space and follow your physical instincts so that has been incredibly interesting to explore. I found it very useful to record myself and to watch it back with an objective eye. The challenge is assigning the correct weight to each part and moving coherently from section to section. The piece is abstract but it does follow a linear narrative, we have inserted voiceovers and certain moments in the story to give a little more context.

What would you like to achieve through the piece? What would you like the audience to bring home with them after the performance?

6. Ideally, we would love for the audience to connect with this story, no matter how far away it is from their own reality; SYRIUS is a universal story about losing everything you hold close, starting with your country. Geographically we are far from what is happening in Syria but that does not excuse us from being mentally disconnected from it. I’d like for the audience to reflect upon what is happening right now and ask themselves what we can do to help refugees. As a nation but also as individuals. These people need our help and all we have is our voice and our bodies. We have to use ourselves to speak out on behalf of people like Rasha. We have to welcome them in our countries. We have to give them a voice.

If you could describe the piece in three words only what would they be?

COLD , HARD , HOPE.

 

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The Peacock Theatre: The Ireland Trilogy

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THEATREclub, without any doubt, is one of those theatre companies that is not afraid to create some truly thought-provoking, relevant and challenging plays that aim not only to entertain but to make people want to take action. The company takes some of the most controversial (often frowned upon by the rest) topics and makes a performance out of it. A performance that can easily be described as naturalistic and close to the real life. As a matter of fact, some of their productions are on such a thin line between the imaginary world and the reality that it becomes difficult to differentiate wether it’s all still just a game. The actors use their own names, they easily and eagerly interact with the audience and make the script come from their heart.

Having been to other productions by THEATREclub, I was somewhat prepared for the trilogy. Well, at least I thought I was. I knew well that I was going to see three pieces about possibly shocking but truthful reality, about what’s going on behind the closed doors and shut mouthes, about what is not only not being talked about but is being ignored and willingly forgotten by many. The company is famous for its thorough research process, for devising their plays inside the company and for the deep belief that a change is always possible. I was ready to be challenged. I was ready to see the real Ireland.

The Ireland Trilogy consists of three plays: The Family, Heroine and History. All of them are played by the same core ensemble of actors and directed by the company’s very own Grace Dyas.

The Family, just like the title suggests, peeks on the life of an ordinary Irish family. Here we have everything from: unrequited love to fathers and sons battles, to a relative leaving for America, to the fact that a family doesn’t exist as a family anymore, it’s just a bunch of cohabiting people who can’t or don’t want to listen, to understand and to support each other. All this is set in a freshly painted cardboard house with the romantic Andy Williams songs playing in the background. A beautifully wrapped glossy candy that is slightly rotten on the inside.

This piece strikes from the beginning as the characters acknowledge the audience’s existence straight away and even keep track of the “show time”. We become part of the play. What’s happening on stage isn’t happening to some faceless fictional “them”. It’s happening to our relatives, to our friends, to our neighbours… Sometimes, it’s even happening to us. The sound of a million voices, all shouting, screaming, whispering at the same time, makes it difficult to make out the words and sentences but impossible not to try to. All we have to do is just listen.

Heroine takes a look at the abuse of illegal drugs in Ireland for the last half of the century. A very beautifully composed piece with elements of poetry, spoken word and nostalgia for the good olden days. Heroine has a totally different feel to it as opposed to The Family. From the pink cotton candy fifties, we move to the cool, leather-jacketed, edgy seventies of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. The children of yesterday have grown up. They live in shabby apartments with their questionable friends, where they pump up hard drugs down the pulsing veins and watch trash TV programmes all day long. They don’t care about the future or the world. All those bad things happening around, they are not happening.

This piece particularly stands out because of the emotional delivery. The ensemble gives a heartbreaking performance of three broken – completely lost and drug dependent – souls.

History is the last part in The Ireland Trilogy. When one starts talking about the history of Ireland, the first thing that springs into mind is, of course, The Civil War, The Revolution, DeV and Michael Collins, the conflict between the Republic and Northern Ireland. History is indeed written by the winners. It’s also written by a selected group of the elite. People, common folks like you and me, unfortunately do not write the history. At least, not the one that will be composed into a book and studied by generations onwards.

And that’s exactly what’s on THEATREclub’s agenda: to show to the public the real history of Ireland (who deep inside is a beautiful ginger girl wearing an emerald green dress), the life of the other half, without sugarcoating or overdramatizing anything. History mainly looks on the historical importance of Richmond Barracks, where the British Army was homed during the Civil War; Goldenbridge Church that once used to be one of the infamous laundries housing unmarried and unwanted young mothers-to-be; and finally on the long tragic sixteen years of regeneration of Dublin’s St Michael’s Estate, that was built to fight the housing crisis of the 60s.

Originally built in 1969, the estate fell in to such a decay that by the end of the 80s  a survey was conducted amongst its inhabitants on what to do with the site. The absolute majority of the tenants preferred it to be completely demolished and rebuilt rather than refurbished. It will take the government sixteen long years to put an end to the inhuman living conditions of Inchicore’s council flats. The government has forgotten about these people, if it ever remembered about them in the first place. Even the statue of Virgin Mary erected on the premises felt like she had failed her devoted worshipers.

THEATREclub looks at modern Ireland through the spectacle of equality, with the broad meaning of this word. All people are equal and all of them deserve equal treatment and promise of a better – fairer – future therefore everybody’s story is important, everybody’s story is relevant and deserves to be heard. For more info about the plays and the company’s work: http://www.theatreclub.ie/our-work/

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The Back Loft: Stitching

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How long does it take to make a first impression? Some of the recent researchers say that the answer is: as short as seven seconds! What if you are an emerging theatre company who wants to claim its place under the sun? How do you go about deciding which play is the very first one to stage and to win the audience over with?

Here we have a shining brand new theatre company with an intriguing name: BlackLight Productions, created and founded by the recent graduates of The Gaiety School of Acting’s part time acting course: Sancha Mulcahy and Cliodhna McAllister.

For their firstborn production, the company chose an alternative theatrical space known for its relaxed, cozy and welcoming atmosphere: The Back Loft. As for the pioneer play itself, the choice fell on a slightly controversial, even provocative and definitely bold piece by the Scottish playwright Anthony Neilson, who, let me just note it here, is known for exploring primarily sex and violence in his work. And Stiching isn’t an exception. It introduces us to Abby (played by Cliodhna McAllister) and Stu (played by Ciarán McCollum), a young couple who discovers that they are about to have a baby. Being neither prepared, nor particularly excited about the fact, they have no idea what life is just about to throw at them.

The way this play is written has a twist of its own: it shows us a sequence of non-chronological events that leads us to believe that Abby was a call girl before she started dating Stu while the guy himself is not a saint, either, expressing perverted sexual desires. The Abby and Stu we meet come from the past, as well as the future, at the same time living in this very moment. But the story isn’t as simple as it seems. With an intense conflict of a difficult relationship, we are made to wait until the very end to see the real revelation of Abbey and Stu’s story.

In this tragicaly natural and full of dramatic realism production, the actors interact with the audience. They use quite intesively the acting space available to them, which creates a very nice feeling of the world existing outside of the designated performing room. Using silent video shorts was a very creative approach for when it came to fill in the space while the actors were changing or preparing in between the scenes.

It’s safe to say that Stiching is a tense ninety minute piece and it takes a real spine to choose it as the very first play when you are only starting out. The BlackLight Productions and their collaborators did it and they did it well!

Stiching runs in The Back Loft until November 25th, so catch it before it ends! You only get one chance to see something for the first time. For more info about the play and the theatre company: https://www.facebook.com/blacklighttheatrecompany/?fref=ts

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Magistorium: Midnight in Nightown

Christmas is just around the corner and if you are on a lookout for a very special seasonal experience, then Dublin has something very unique and very different to offer. Behind the little blue door at N 22 on South Anne Street (just off Grafton Street) there is a venue very few know about. The grand Munnamed-1agistorium, where the ticket master will welcome you from inside a confession box, has opened its doors for the wide audience who is yearning not only for food for the stomach, but also for the thought and the soul. All three will be provided, no doubt of that!

Midnight in Nightown is about three hours experience that starts with a real feast of some of the most delicious foods, all at the accompaniment of the live harp playing on the background. A three course meal where even the bread and butter are so indescribably tasty, they will leave any food critic in want for more. But remember to leave some space for the mains and the desert. I almost wished I was a food critic, who, through the power of good strong wording, could make people taste the tenderness of a lamb or the richness of a bouquet of a matured wine. But, unfortunately, I am not. So, here you will simple have to believe me: the food is tasty and plenty. You shall not be disappointed. They also offer vegetarian options.

Approximately two hours after savouring the delicacies and enjoying the intimate atmosphere of the venue deepened in the soft purple light, it’s finally show time. The actors – stylishly playing Georgian prostitutes, priests and other colourful characters of the past – come out to interact with the audience. Suddenly we are in one of Europe’s most famous Red Light Districts – Dublin’s Monto. And who is here to join us? None the less but W B Yeats (played by Tom Moran) and James Joyce (played by Rex Ryan) themselves. For the next hour our attention will be stolen by the tragic story of Yeats’ extramarital affair with a local prostitute girl Honour Bright (played by Lisa Byrne), with whom he fathered a son. Unlike her last name, Honour’s fate was far from being bright. And she is on stage tonight to tell her own story, as well as those of other Monto’s girls.

But not to worry, your fancy night out won’t end on a tinge of sadness. The company has got a lot in store to keep the audience entertained, singing and dancing. Midnight in Nightown, directed by Lisa Byrne, is unnamedfilled with poetic passages, melodic songs and references back to romantic Ireland. It’s 1922, the Easter Rising has already happened, Ireland has finally become a Free State. We are offered a slightly different sneak peak on the life of those who are normally left unheard, whose stories are usually spared. It’s not Ireland in the midst of a Civil War, this part of the country is fighting its own different battle. Here we will hear everything from The Dubliners to the famous Molly Malone song to extracts from the just published Joyce’s Ulysses as it’s being reenacted on stage at the same time by Leopold Bloom (played by John Doran).

The audience isn’t only welcome but also encouraged to participate in all the singing and dancing. And believe me, many of you will find it difficult not to! A truly Irish experience that could be enjoyed by both the locals and the visitors of the city. Midnight in Nightown is hugely entertaining. It bears the traditional Irish spirit of eating, singing along and telling stories.

Magistosium opens its doors to this very special experience every Friday and Saturday starting from November 11th. Advanced booking is highly recommended as those seats will be filled very quickly. A perfect opportunity for a cultural night out with friends, family or loved ones. For more information or to book tables, contact the venue directly at 01 7079899 or through their website: http://www.magistorium.com/

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Olympia Theatre: Once, The Musical

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“Tear your curtains down for sunlight is like gold.”

Theatre is always beautiful, in all its shapes and forms. Unfortunately, I’ve never been lucky enough to see many musicals, though I immensely enjoy musical theatre as a genre. It just doesn’t bother me when in the middle of a thought or a scene the actors burst into singing and dancing. I actually find it rather entertaining and truthful.

After the huge success of the namesake film in 2007, Once The Musical has enjoyed quite a successful run in New York, London and pretty much all over the world. In an out-of-ordinary occurrence of events, Once started Off-Broadway, then was transferred to Broadway itself and only after that was brought to Dublin, its hometown, and London’s West End.

With the original songs by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (who themselves appear in the film), the script for the musical was written by Enda Walsh. Once is a typical story of a girl (played by Megan Riordan) and a guy (played by Sam Cieri) who met in Dublin and fell in love. He is a busker, she has a broken hoover. He helps her to repair the hoover, she helps him to pursue his dream.

Unlike all the other love stories, Once, first and foremost, is a very charming and touching tale about having to make choices and the importance of never giving up on your dream no matter what; it’s also a tale about love and separation, about believing in oneself; a tale about what happens where words are not enough anymore and the souls bursts into singing.

Dublin has a tradition of bringing musical from overseas, Once is a unique case all together. Apart from the fact that original story is set on Dublin’s very own Grafton Street. This production of the musical was also Dublin-cast and brought up. In 2015 the musical enjoyed a hugely successful three month run and it’s no surprise Landmark Productions decided to bring it back to the Olympia Theatre this summer.

Directed by John Tiffany, Once is set in a very stylised pub with dozens of mirrors all over the place. The mirrors play a very important part in the whole play. With the help of the lighting crew (by Natasha Katz), we are able to observe the actors on stage both directly and through the looking glass. It creates a magical, at times almost surreal, effect of being in a different place at a different time. The whole set design, though simple, is very well-thought. It easily transfers from Dublin streets into Girl’s house, into Guy’s bedroom, into recording studio, etc. All we really need is the right lighting and music to set the mood and within seconds we know where we are.

Another nice touch is that the full cast is on stage all throughout the play. The actors are ready to spring into dancing and singing any second. Everything is so beautifully stylised and set that you forget it’s a play. There is absolutely no awkward pauses or set changes. The choreography (by Steven Hoggett) of this piece is on the highest level. Even the smallest changes in between scenes are impossible to take eyes off.

And all this splendour in addition to the fact that unlike the absolutely majority of all other main stream traditional plays, Once starts long before the it actually starts. All guests are invited to have  drinks in the bar that is part of the stage. But that’s not even the best part, the best part is that the actors are already on stage singing and dancing with the members of the audience. I’ve never witnessed a better mood-setter. You are not only allowed to enter the actors’ sacred space, but you are also invited to be part of it.

I’m going to be straight here and say that I wasn’t a very huge fan of the original film. It made me not want to see the musical when it came to Dublin in 2015. And only by a happy coincidence I was in the auditorium yesterday. Not expecting too much, I was completely blown away by literally everything in this musical. Apart from great tunes (the ones that you can actually listen to), simple yet quite fresh plot and absolutely splendid acting, dancing and singing, the musical left me wanting for more. Once wasn’t enough to see Once.

Once The Musical runs in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre until August 27th. The tickets are selling super-fast, so don’t miss on a chance to see it … at least once. Fore more info or to book tickets: http://www.olympia.ie/whats-on/once-the-musical/ 

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