Ship of Fools - Programme Notes

October 24, 2015


SHIP OF FOOLS
WED 21 - SAT 24 OCTOBER 2015  8PM
Main Auditorium, Draíocht, Blanchardstown


Devised by Veronica Coburn
and all the Participants of
Hallelujah! Draíocht's Community Clown Choir

Director’s Note – Veronica Coburn
If you look up the word clown in a dictionary it will tell you that a clown is a comic entertainer, especially one in a circus, wearing a traditional costume and exaggerated make-up.  To clown, it will say, is to behave in a comical or playful way.  I prefer this definition.

clown noun
human
to clown verb
to be human
to be vulnerable
to be spontaneous
to be playful

For me, the clown’s task is to make existence bearable, to do so in the sharing of their own humanity, willingly and joyfully.  Hallelujah!, Draíocht’s Community Clown Choir harks back to the tradition of the societal clown – groups of clowns made up of members of the community who represented ordinary citizens at civic and sacred celebration.  For the last three years Hallelujah!’s clowns have gathered together every week to sing and to laugh.  To laugh at what is ridiculous.  To find a way to, if not laugh, then accept what is not.  And to feel release in the beautiful act of communal song. 
Veronica Coburn




A Note From Emer McGowan – Executive Director of Draíocht

Draíocht’s story goes back beyond the 14 years we are open. It starts 25 years ago, with a group of people sitting around their kitchen tables, envisioning a space situated in the heart of Dublin 15, a space where people’s cultural needs would be met.  Draíocht’s Board and Staff, hold on to that original impetus and it has become our reference point, our touchstone, our beacon.
We believe that accessing all kinds of quality arts experiences is a right and should be part of the menu of our lives, that life long learning is essential, that within us all is the need to hear and be heard, to connect, to matter. By opening our doors wide, by inviting people in, by providing the space, supports and the inspiration,we know that all kinds of connections will be made and lives are changed.
Hallelujah, Draíocht’s Community Clown Choir is important because it gave people the space not only to play but to discover.  
Over 150 participants have engaged with the project and they have worked with 7 artists, 3 designers and 8 production crew. Some participants came once, some stayed for three years.  We have performed to over 2000 people in various locations in Dublin 15, Dublin City Centre and of course here in Draíocht.  And though all of us appreciate that the numbers are important and need to be counted, the community that is the Clown Choir, the friendships, the support, the confidence to be vunerable in front of others, to stand up and say yes this is me, the pushing of your own potential and going way beyond what you ever imagined, is the thing that will remain.
I would like to pay tribute to our funders, The Arts Council and Fingal County Council, to Draíocht’s Board of Directors who believed in the Project, to our dedicated team both part time and full time, who work quietly in the background to make all of our programmes happen, to the artistic team who have shaped the Project and invested in it in all kinds of ways.  And I would to pay a special tribute to my friend and colleague, Veronica Coburn.  The Choir was her brilliant vision.  She knew it would work.  We did too.
And lastly, I would like to thank all our Clowns.  This has been the best of us.
Emer McGowan

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“Welcome to the ship of fools.  A ship that is neither here nor there.  A ship that has left but has not yet arrived.  A ship that exists in a moment in time.  A moment when you stop being who you are.  And you have yet to become who you might be.  A ship that sails through the night because that’s when you dream.”

Ship of Fools, a red nose re-telling of Alessandro Baricco’s Novecento, performed by twenty nine clowns was developed with Hallelujah! Draíocht’s Community Clown Choir and scripted by Veronica Coburn. A culmination of Coburn’s three year Residency in Draíocht, Ship of Fools is a full blown red nose piece of theatre featuring song and original score. Performed in an intimate setting, Ship of Fools promises to make you laugh, it will make your heart sing and it will most certainly make you consider a journey of your own.


Passengers on The Ship Of Fools
Anne “Spikey” Owens / Colm Deignan / George Carroll / Marian Connorton / Niamh O’Shaughnessy / Rose Collins / Simona Roveda / Vanessa Smith / Anne F. O’Reilly / Eithne Griffin / Josephine Gibney / Marianne Hartigan / Noeleen Quinn / Sally Hogarty / Susan Coughlan / Bogusz Peregryn / Fiona Fitzpatrick / Loretta Guihan / Maureen Penrose / Nora Clarke / Sandra Austin / Teresa McKeown / Bríd Ní Chionaola / Frances McDonnell / Louise Levins / Niamh Hogan / Paula Barry / Sayantani Chatterjee / Toni McNally

And to those clowns who had a seat booked but for various reasons couldn’t make it, we carry you with us in our good clown hearts.  Ahoy to Áine Hayden, Betty Bolger, Bronagh O’Leary, Dee Heffernan, Maura Maycock, the splendid Niamh Lawlor, the lovely Siobhán Sheehy and the beautiful Dolores Ward. 

 

Artistic Director   /   Veronica Coburn
Original Score, Musical Arrangement & Sound Design  / Debra Salem
Choir Director  / Louise Foxe
Design  / Kieran McNulty
Lighting Design  / Paul Doran
Producer  / Emer McGowan
Production Manager  /  Eamon Fox
Assistant Technical Manager  /   Iarlaith O’Muirgheasa
Stage Management   /  Caoimhe Regan
Assistant Director   /  Niamh Lawlor
Drape Painting   /  Eithne Griffin


Sincere thanks to all the staff in Draíocht for all their good will, help & support over the last three years.  Thanks also to Tom Lane, John White, Ciarán Gray, Amy Conroy and Marella Boschi.  Also Simona Roveda who brought Alessandro Baricco’s Novecento to the table.  It is her favourite book.  Grazie Simona.  


Very Special Thank You To: Fingal County Council and The Arts Council who funded the project.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Clown Choir, Veronica Coburn,

Des Kenny Reviews Martina O’Brien - Continuum

October 14, 2015

13 October 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Martina O'Brien ...  



Martina O Brien’s multi-layered exhibition resonates with humanities need to understand, predict and control the earth’s climate throughout the ages. On a small pedestal stands an urn filled with sage sticks. These were lit by ancient tribes to commune with spirits of the breathing air. Nowadays sage sticks are used in yoga classes without a direct reference to the spirits. These reliquaries of the past and the rites of ancient people no longer have a foothold in modern consciousness. In the main window of Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery stands a small Child of Prague Statue. These were frequently found in farming homes and placed outside to call for rain or imploring God to intercede and prevent damage to crops from heavy rains. The child of Prague is replaced today in homes by a white porcelain figure of a woman which is displayed in front windows. The weather forecast beamed by satellite into every home does away with the need for Gods intercession since understanding the scientific character of the weather removes the Godhead from the equation and anyway, satellite images beamed into our television of the weather have yet to reveal the invisible spirits of our ancestors.




The video piece Provision explores the ideas proposed by the scientist James Lovelock. He believed the whole planet is a living organism and called this entity Gaia. This theory granted a certain relevance to the beliefs of our ancestors who instinctively understood the connection between inanimate objects and living matter on this planet. Lovelock created, with the aid of a simple computer model, a fantasy world, where white and black flowers controlled the median temperature of the planet. When too much heat energy arrived from a sun the planet grew white flowers to reflect the excessive heat and black daisies grew when the heat needed to be absorbed. Lovelock maintained this simple computer model had a parallel connection to how our planet works. The artist’s video commences with a red screen. Black and white dots suddenly fill the wall, representing Lovelock’s theory of black and white daisies proliferating as required by his fantasy planet. Next an image of clouds towering the heights of a blue sky is combined with small creatures living in a pond. Wild inanimate existence and prolific quivering organic life have a direct dependence upon each other. Representations of decaying industrial structures with reflective images entangled in stagnant water may indicate the destructive nature of humanities persistent enterprise upon the natural world. Dying white flowers adjacent to an image of the world’s tempestuous winds twisting across the earth, bring into focus how climate change will bring rapid disaster to the whole planet. One nice addition to this video is a sequence of sixty seconds winding down to zero before the video restarts. This is a helpful note to the viewer, marking were the video sequence commences but also a chilling reminder that time is ebbing away, engendering the chilling feeling it is too late to redress the earth’s traumatic climate change. The clock is ticking downwards to a terrible fate, since we have sacrificed our natural inheritance for economic growth.



Drawings on paper are made with the use of thread and correspond to the threaded works attached to nails, fixed to the walls. These drawings form groups of three and indicate a fable which remains difficult to decipher. In the first grouping a pyramid displays its interior structure as if made from glass, the next drawing displays a vector design and the third shows a giant tearing down the pillars of Valhalla. Perhaps signifying the destruction of the old gods as monotheistic religions took the centre stage in the human psyche. The resulting change allowed humanity freedom to construct the world to a personnel vision without interference from the demi - gods of an inanimate world and an absentee godhead. The other drawing series is much more mysterious and enigmatic. A prophetic angel with a flaming sword hovers above three cowering figures, no doubt threatening punishment if not obeyed. The next drawing is a complex structure that seems impossibly to move inward and outward and yet remain in the same visual plane. While the next drawing appears to depict a bacterial form, bursting from the confines of its natural habitat. Perhaps a reference to an air carrying pathogen freed from the jungle by intensive colonisation. Yet trying to discern links between these drawings appears illusive, yet strangely this quality adds to their appeal.



The large paintings composed of black inks, markers and pens stand out starkly against the white background of the canvas. In one painting white flowers lift their heads upwards towards a benevolent sun. The flowers seem to reference the white flowers of James Lovelock’s imagined world. If we could allow the natural world to heal we might not face the disastrous changes about to befall our planet. The other paintings depict an elaborate realm where it’s difficult to discern if the fauna is diseased or thriving. An ambiguity that is disconcerting but perhaps we cannot tell the difference anymore.

This is a complex show on many levels and would reward a number of visits to understand the manifold interpretations that lie within this artist’s vision.

Read more about Martina's show ... here ...



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.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Martina O'Brien,

Des Kenny Reviews Andrew Carson - Pilgrim

October 5, 2015

05 October 2015 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews Andrew Carson ...  

As you look down at the careful placement of your feet on each step of the spiral staircase leading to the First Floor Gallery in Draíocht, there is a slight feeling of vertigo as you are demanded to look suddenly upwards on the final step. At this juncture, black geodesic globes suspended from the ceiling immediately greet your eye and flow in a gentle curve towards the centre of the exhibition space. Ahead of this stream of geodesic spheres is a lone golden globe which appears to pull all the others in its wake.



The gallery space is carved out to lead the spectator inwards on a theatrical journey to explore the sublime vastness of the heavens. Distances of outer space are so vast; it can overwhelm the finite mind so the artist reduces whole universes to a globe that can be held in your hand. These geodesic spheres are covered in shimmering stars that light up the dark fabric of space.



At the far end of the gallery twelve black opaque panels stand erect like sentinels. These dark panels appear unrevealing until close examination unveils delicate lines of notation representing the binary code. They emit an opalescent sheen which separates the mathematical symbols from the dull surface of the panels. The message appears camouflaged in mystery awaiting a key to unlock its meaning.

The panels are a physical representation of a radio wave missive transmitted from a radio telescope in Puerto Rico in 1974. The transmission took three minutes to broadcast into the night sky. The radio telescope was pointed at M13, a mass of stars in the great cluster of Hercules. The system contains 300,000 stars with probably an equal number of planets. The scientific community with the aid of radio waves wished to contact alien life that may exist on these worlds. The binary system used by the scientists is an easy language to interpret. The numerals, equate to black and white squares, were 1 forms a black square and zero creates a white square. When decoded a simple pictorial image is formed, showing the image of man, the DNA helix and the position of earth and corresponding planets orbiting our sun. To this day the message remains unanswered, the night skies glistening constellations respond with the unending echo of silence.



While navigating the gallery space absorbing the functionality of the artists process, an underlying meaning is formed around the work. A subtext that does not overpower the visual reality of the show but allows the viewer unearth the moral quietly. It’s a realisation that the act of searching is more important than discovery. The subterranean impulses carrying humanity beyond a limited vision that contains creativity and outward to a limitless horizon were the imagination is unbound, define a culture. In the gloomy silence of empty space the lonely pilgrim searches undaunted with hope as a guide. 

 

Read more about Andrew's show ... here ...


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.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Andrew Carson, Desmond Kenny,

Will you Climb Aboard the Ship of Fools?

October 1, 2015

Hallelujah! Draíocht’s Community Clown Choir has had the pleasure of working with Veronica Coburn, Theatre Artist in Residence, for the last 3 years.

Veronica Coburn’s 2013-2015 Residency was supported by The Arts Council’s Theatre Artist in Residence Scheme with additional support from Fingal County Council and the performance of ‘Ship of Fools’ marks the end of Draiocht’s 3 year Clown Choir Project.

We hope you'll come along!
 

Ship of Fools
WED 21 - SAT 24 OCT 2015 8PM 
Main Auditorium // Tickets: €16 / €13 conc / €10 (under 12s)
Booking tel: 01-8852622 or Online ... here ...

 

“Welcome to the Ship of Fools. A ship that is neither here nor there. A ship that has left but has not yet arrived. A ship that exists in a moment in time. A moment when you stop being who you are. And you have yet to become who you might be. A ship that sails through the night because that’s when you dream.”

Ship of Fools, a red nose re-telling of Alessandro Baricco’s Novecento, performed by thirty five clowns was developed with Hallelujah! Draíocht’s Community Clown Choir and scripted by Veronica Coburn. A culmination of Coburn’s three year Residency in Draíocht, Ship of Fools is a full blown red nose piece of theatre featuring song and original score. Performed in an intimate setting, Ship of Fools promises to make you laugh, it will make your heart sing and it will most certainly make you consider a journey of your own.

Director Veronica Coburn, Original Score & Musical Arrangement by Debra Salem, Choir Director Louise Foxe, Design Kieran McNulty, Lighting Paul Doran, Production Eamon Fox. 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Clown Choir, Veronica Coburn,