November 28, 2012
28 November 2012
Una Sealy, A Piano in the Kitchen, 120x120cm, oil on canvas
Una Sealy paints directly from life. This engagement with reality imposes great strain on the creative act. A sitter may want to move, just as you need stillness, arrive late or wish to leave early. The artist must look intensely at life in constant change and corral the fluctuating sensations of a three dimensional world onto a two dimensional surface, a stretched canvas. This concentrated creative endeavour demands stamina, to endure the delight of success and pain of failure at that pregnant juncture between subject matter and painting process, hoping a work of art emerges.
In “Neighbours” a 4 feet x 6 feet in size oil painting Una Sealy depicts a couple in a suburban bedroom sitting on either side of a marital bed. The sheets dividing their bed rise like two opposing waves about to collide into each other. In the emotional undertow of these sheets, marital bliss is saved or lost. A chink of light falls upon this daily domestic drama, unveiling a shadow of marital tension. When Una reveals the inner moods of her sitters, she raises the level of portraiture beyond a study of appearances and enters the territory of psychological drama.
A large oil painting titled “Other People’s Children” is situated in a family kitchen. Centred in the painting is a mother and orbiting around her like moons are three children caught in the gravitational force of paternal love. Love binds as well as enriches and motherhood imposes restrictions on self fulfilment until the young have reached maturity. Una aptly explores the glazed eyes of resignation on a mothers face, burdened with love. This is a shared communion between two mothers, artist and sitter. An unspoken truth is revealed, the confined existence of motherhood is accepted and not spurned, that instinctively, they acknowledge, love hurts. The children are of course unaware of loves selfless obligation which allows them freedom to grow.
Una needs an intimate knowledge of her sitters lives to allow her unearth the stories lying dormant beneath surface appearances. In “Thinking of Home” the sitter yearns for her homeland but there are barriers she must overcome, the obstacles appear more internal than external. Over the sitters shoulder is a large imposing wall and colossal sea; metaphorically they hint at the internal handicaps she must overcome before returning home. This frustrated longing, etches her wistful face.
In another painting an old artist sits in her studio surrounded by the implements of her craft. Undone by the art world’s indifference, she remains defiant, since defeat cannot gain purchase in a life given to beauty. She seems to implore the younger painter; this is your future and my inheritance to you.
Una Sealy, End of Days, 24x30cm, oil on board
Upstairs a number of small landscapes of a beach are laden with information of changing weather patterns and are superior in content and incident then the large landscapes found downstairs. In another small painting a kiosk is positioned against a stormy blue sky encircled by puddles of rainwater. It has a cryptic air of nostalgia, a place belonging to the past, declining unmanned in the present. In “End of days” an old wooden garden shed falls apart in the briny air. Its decaying structure tilts towards the engulfing ground where it will rot and disappear. I recognise that this small painting will outlive me and I will decline and become interred by the hungry earth. It is from dust to stardust we must return from whence we came. In the tumultuous rush through flowering and the passing of our lives, Una Sealy seems to imply that art and love will help us come to terms with our moribund destiny.
Una Sealy, Alley to the Sea, 120x120cm, oil on canvas
Read more about Una Sealy here …
Una Sealy / A Piano in the Kitchen & Other Stories / FRI 23 NOV 2012 - SAT 23 FEB 2013 / GROUND & FIRST FLOOR GALLERIES
Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.
November 7, 2012
THE IRISH PREMIERE OF CLIVE FRANCIS’ ONE MAN ADAPTATION OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL BY CHARLES DICKENS
Opening on November 24th 2012 - One of Britain's leading stage actors Clive Francis comes to Ireland for the Irish Premiere of his unique one man adaptation of A Christmas Carol to coincide with the Dickens Bicentenary 2012. Clive Francis will perform his acclaimed production as part of his extensive Bicentenary tour of the UK and Ireland over twelve nights in eleven venues across the country from Saturday November 24th through Friday 7th December (Draiocht Blanchardstown) before the shows London premier at the new St James Theatre Westminster and further dates in Birmingham, Guildford and Bath.
Clive Francis was last seen playing Ken Lay in the West End transfer of the hit play Enron at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival 2010 Directed by Rupert Goold.
Inspired by Dicken's first reading and performance of A Christmas Carol at the Birmingham Town Hall on December 27th 1853 - Clive Francis re-enacts this festive masterpiece while playing every notable character in the story in a haunting, moving and brilliantly entertaining performance. Clive Francis is indeed the first actor since Charles Dickens himself to re-enact that famous reading at the Birmingham Town Hall - where his production has now become an annual event in the city where huge audiences gather each year to see his remarkable interpretation.
We caught up with Clive Francis, ahead of his Irish Tour, and he chatted about this amazing and mesmerizing production …
“A Christmas Dickens - Marley was dead to begin with, there’s no doubt about that.
And thus Charles Dickens’ slim little Christmas book gets under way and Scrooges remarkable journey of reclamation begins. A Christmas Carol is a wonderful read, full of parallels and metaphors that hopefully makes us occasionally re-examine our own existence and how we behave towards one another.
For the past twelve Christmas’ I have travelled up and down the country, performing Dickens story of redemption in a variety of settings from theatres, churches, schools, country houses and even on one occasion around the fireside of someone’s drawing room. In nearly fifty years as an actor I would say that A Christmas Carol contains the perfect script; full of emotion and rich with characterization; an absolute joy to perform.
Being Dickens bicentenary year I decided to extend the tour by taking in a large swathe of Ireland; travelling to places new to me and where I’d like to think Dickens has never been recited before. I shall also be performing it for the third year at Birmingham’s Town Hall; the first actor to do so since 1853 when Charles Dickens recited his book in front of an audience of over two and a half thousand people.
I first encountered Ebenezer Scrooge eighteen years ago when I was invited to play him for the RSC in a huge, lavish production adapted by John Mortimer. It was, as the Sunday Times reported, ‘a success the size of a giant Christmas tree appealing to the grown-up in the children and the child in the grown-ups….’
A month after we finished the run I discovered most of the set, including Scrooge’s bed, piled high in a refuse dump not far from where I lived; the first indication that Ian Judge’s brilliant production had been axed and that the chances of me ever playing the old skinflint again were pretty slim; a phone call would have been a gentler way of breaking the news!
But you know, once you’ve trod the ‘path of jagged flints and stones laid down by Scrooge’s brutal ignorance’, it’s hard to get the old boy out of your head, hence why I decided to adapt the story into a show for myself.
Charles Dickens wrote the little Christmas book, as he called it, in order to prick the consciousness of every reader in the land to make them aware of the scandalous conditions children were being forced to suffer under in factory’s and mines around the country: many working as much as eighteen-hour days for hardly the price of a loaf of bread.
So strong was his appeal that he actually impelled the government of the day to make changes to the Poor Laws, as well as other smaller acts.
The story, which had Dickens weeping, and laughing and weeping again, took a little over six weeks to compose, finishing it as he did just before December, 1843. As soon as he had scrawled ‘The End’ across the final page, he broke out, as he himself described it, like a madman.
Needless to say it was an overnight success, provoking Thomas Carlyle to go straight out and buy himself a turkey.
Ten years later Dickens made the first of his many personal appearances when he performed A Christmas Carol in front of an audience of working class people inside Birmingham’s Town Hall, a performance that lasted just under three hours; an incredible achievement when you consider that this was well before the invention of microphones, when the only method of projecting the story to such a large gathering was simply the human voice, raw and unaided. As an actor myself who knows the size of this Hall, I truly appreciate how outstanding a feat that must have been.
Charles Dickens was a performer of consummate routine, a strict disciplinarian, who stuck to a rigid, if somewhat bizarre, routine, especially on performance days. For example he would begin with a breakfast of two tablespoons of rum flavoured with fresh cream, followed in the afternoon with a pint of champagne. Then half an hour before the start of his performance, he would drink a raw egg that had been beaten into a tumbler glass of sherry. During the interval he invariably consumed several cups of beef tea and always retired to bed with a bowl of soup.
If any actor today followed that course of events he’d be so woolly-headed before he got on stage he’d find himself incapable of standing let alone speaking this dense and wordy text.
Unfortunately there are only a few eye-witness accounts describing Dickens the actor, but from what one gathers he was fairly mesmerizing to watch, allowing each character to come alive through a variety of different voices and different facial settings ‘mouth comically twisted, eyes rolling, and eyebrows jiggering’; and all to great effect. As soon as Scrooge began to speak it was as if Dickens had disappeared; presenting instead an old man with a shrewd grating voice with a face drawn down into his collar like a great ageing turtle; his face becoming surly and sour. He bit his fingers, pointed with savage intensity, and rubbed his eyes in disbelief. It is reported that the audience fell into a kind of trance, as a universal feeling of joy seemed to invade the whole assembly.
Dickens described these performances like ‘an enormous top in full spin’. Sadly this whirling life would eventually destroy him. He became sick, weary and prematurely aged. The strain of the readings that took him around not only this country but vast areas of the States as well punctured the life out of him.
He began with A Christmas Carol and he ended with it. His last reading of the little book took place in London on March 15th, 1870. At the end of the performance he told his audience that ‘from these garish lights I vanish now for evermore, with a heartfelt, grateful, respectful, and affectionate farewell.’ There was a hush and then as his son recalled, ‘a storm of cheering as I have never seen equalled in my life.’
His head was bowed, and the tears were streaming down his face but still the cheering went on. Eventually Dickens raised his hands to his lips in a kiss and left the platform for ever. His son said that his father was deeply touched, but infinitely sad and broken. Charles Dickens was to die three months later at the age of 58.”
Clive Francis 2012.
Clive Francis first crossed paths with the character of Ebenezer Scrooge whilst playing the role in Ian Judge’s acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company's production of A Christmas Carol at the Barbican Theatre in 1994 and 1995. He made his West End debut in 1966 opposite Donald Sinden in ‘There's A Girl In My Soup’ at the Globe Theatre and later at the Comedy Theatre, and a select number of credits since include ‘The Hypochondriac’ for the English Touring Theatre, ‘Tis Pity She's a Whore’ with Rupert Graves at the National Theatre, ‘Single Spies’ directed by Alan Bennett, ‘Gross Indecency’ with Michael Pennington, ‘Enteraining Mr Sloane’ opposite Alison Steadman, ‘The Dresser, Never So Good’ opposite Jeremy Irons at the National Theatre, ‘The Woman Hater’ at the Orange Tree, ‘Enron’ at the Noel Coward Theatre London and Gaiety Theatre Dublin and most recently ‘The Madness of King George III’ with David Haig in the West End.
His numerous television and film appearances include Saturday, Sunday Monday opposite Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright, Entertaining Mr Sloane with Sheila Hancock, Decision to Burn with Anthony Hopkins, The Gathering Storm with Richard Burton and Virginia Mckenna, Caesar and Cleopatra opposite Richard Burton, As You Like It with Helen Mirren, Sharpe's Company with the late Pete Postlewaite, Masada with Peter O' Toole, The Far Pavilions with John Gielgud, Old Flames with Stephen Fry, Simon Callow and Miriam Margoyles, Longitude opposite Michael Gambon, David Copperfield with Ian McKellen and Joss Ackland, Lipstick On Your Collar opposite Ewan McGregor, Yes, Prime Minster, Quartermaine’s Terms, The Piglet Files, The 10%ers, New Tricks, Pierrepoint, The Queen and probably most famously playing John the lodger in A Clockwork Orange.
The Irish premier of Clive Francis's adaptation of A Christmas Carol is produced by the Irish actor Conor Sheridan and his company Granite Productions.
For more information please contact Producer Conor Sheridan - GRANITE PRODUCTIONS firstname.lastname@example.org
PERFORMANCE TOUR LISTINGS
Saturday 24th November Theatre Royal Waterford
Sunday 25th and Monday 26th November Everyman Palace Cork
021- 450 1673
Tuesday 27th November Mill Theatre Dundrum Dublin
Wednesday 28th November The Dock Carrick on Shannon
Friday 30th November Simsa Tire Theatre Tralee
Saturday 1st December Town Hall Theatre Galway
091 - 569777
Sunday 2nd December Hawkswell Theatre Sligo
071 - 9161518
Tuesday 4th December Glor Theatre Ennis
065 - 6843103
Wednesday 5th December Source Arts Centre Thurles
Thursday 6th December Mermaid Arts Centre Bray Wicklow
Friday 7th December Draiocht Blanchardstown
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Tuesday 11th - Sunday 16th December
St James Theatre Studio London
Thur 20th December - Monday 31st Dec
Mill Studio Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford
Sunday 23rd December Town Hall
Thurs 4th/Fri 5th Jan
Ustinov Space Theatre Royal Bath