Clown Choir - Interview with Louise Foxe

October 20, 2014

Thanks to Total Choir Resources for publishing this interview:
http://www.totalchoirresources.com/choir-view-hallelujah-clown-choir/




CHOIR VIEW: Hallelujah! Clown Choir
by Victoria Hopkins

In the latest of our occasional ‘Choir View’ series, we meet a very unusual choir from Ireland, led by rehearsal director Louise Foxe.

Q: Tell us a bit about your choir and how you came to lead it.

My cousin’s boyfriend told me about a ‘clown choir’ starting up in a theatre near where I live (the theatre’s name, ‘Draiocht’ means ‘Magic’ in Irish) in Blanchardstown. The choir was looking for leaders. The musical director lives in Scotland and does intensive rehearsals with the choir once a month, but the weekly rehearsal leadership was to be shared among four people. I had never heard of a ‘clown choir’ and was intrigued, so I looked it up and really liked what I read:

‘….The main performance programme will be innovative – The M50 Symphony, An Evening Rendition of 100 Green Bottles. There will also be elements of red nose performance in the programme. Hallelujah! is open to anyone regardless of ability. There is no audition process for Hallelujah! The ethos of Hallelujah! is accessibility and artistic excellence… Rehearsal directors will be expected to work collaboratively with Debra Salem, the Musical Director to deliver creative and inspiring rehearsals… a high quality of artistic engagement… develop and lead an inspiring programme with the support of Debra…’

It sounded great – fun, aspirational and inclusive without being patronising. It also sounded fabulous to have the support of the musical director, and to work as part of a team (choir direction can sometimes be quite solitary. “Draiocht,” are also hugely supportive of the choir – in terms of resources, time, and people.

Q: What sort of repertoire do you cover and where do you perform?

As you can see from the above, the repertoire isn’t exactly run-of-the-mill. Debra and Veronica (the artistic director) choose fun, uplifting pieces, often building and creating them into something more, into which the element of ‘red-nose’ performance can be incorporated. The musical and red-nose element really complement each other. Inevitably, though, the music is accessible to all and enjoyable. For example, we’ve sung songs such as Barbara Ann, Gareth Malone’s three-way round including Swing Low, When the Saints and I’m Gonna Sing, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, California Dreamin’, Freedom is Coming, various Christmas carols and Debra’s own Christmas compositions. We are now learning Rufus Wainwright’s Beautiful Child and Stand By Me, so it’s a varied programme. We’ve performed at launches of exhibitions, Christmas parties in the theatre, “Culture Night,” (an annual night in Dublin where all cultural venues open their doors for free) and we’ve done, “Flash mob,” performances in the shopping centre across from the theatre – among other things!

Q: What are your plans and hopes for the future of your choir?

I would like for people to continue to enjoy the choir and to produce work of which they are truly proud. I would like the people involved to feel that they have achieved something, and have given something, from being involved with the choir. The choir has a finite life-span, so in terms of concrete results, we will have performances and hopefully a recording at Christmas, and then more performances next year. To see a room full of adults acting like loonybins, having great fun doing it, and being totally comfortable doing so in front of each other (this is the red-nose element) is hilarious. It’s also remarkable considering they were strangers when they walked in the door, and it’s impossible to go to a rehearsal without being cheered up. If that’s happening for me, and I’m the rehearsal director, then I hope the rewards are ten-fold for the members of the choir.

Q: What do you get from Total Choir Resources and what else would you like to see on the site?

The site is brilliant. Thanks a million. The warm-up exercises are great, as are the ‘cheat sheets’. The technical tips are also extremely helpful – especially because they’re written in layman’s language. Also, the pieces on the psychological aspects of performance are useful and reassuring; so basically I get loads – I love everything! I suppose you could have a section where people can upload warm-ups or rounds or things like that, but really that’s covered on your Facebook page, so it’s not totally necessary. You could have a section for technical questions and perhaps a ‘looking for members’ section.
 

Our thanks to Louise for taking the time to tell us about her extraordinary choir. I think we can all learn something about innovation and creativitiy for our choirs from this group, whether we don red noses or not. You can find out more about Hallelujah Clown Choir here.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Clown Choir,

Des Kenny Reviews Mary Claire Kehoe - Concentrate On Your Breathing

October 2, 2014

26 September 2014 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Mary Claire Kehoe, 'Concentrate on Your Breathing'.

Marie Claire Kehoe is a printmaker and her prints are exhibited in the First Floor Gallery in Draiocht. The artist uses monoprints and collograph techniques to produce unadorned but effective abstract imagery of elevated emotional intensity. The works while having a layered psychological aspect to their understanding also can stand alone in a formal sense as explorations in the language of abstraction. While the prints maintain this duality, it’s the emotional mark making driven by inner need that adds intensity to the impersonal barriers surrounding abstraction.



Support System

In Support System three thick vertical black lines are bolstered by base line which appears to act as a foundation stone. But this keystone is ferociously scoured undermining its weight bearing nature and a vertical line receives similar treatment. The comfortable gilded beliefs held so dear begin to crumble under intense scrutiny and from the rubble of a shattered spirit a new but fragile persona may reveal itself.


Top Heavy / Suffocating / Trapped


In Trapped a black triangular form lays dormant captured beneath two strident grey strokes .The fervent urgency of the grey mark making stifles attempts at freedom from fates shackling indifference. While in Overspill the enclosed red escapes the comfort of its square shaped brushstrokes and flows in a free falling splash towards plundering chaos. While impatiently seeking release from pain, there is the possibility of failing to govern responsibly the release of dark harbingers from the psychic depths and this creates new agonies that lack redemptive healing power. This is further encountered in Open the Floodgates where a rampant black paint plunges downwards onto a sharp restrictive parapet. Once the unconscious is liberated, a torrent of soulful energy scatters without restraint around and beyond self imposed defence systems that guard and shadows our visible personality.



Close Your Eyes and Take a Deep Breath

A sense of panic can arise when confronting the dread that lies beneath the subterranean layers of the unconscious mind and breathing techniques are often found helpful to calm ragged nerves. In Close Your Eyes and Take a Deep Breath a roughly brushed black square contains splatters of blue suspended in self- possessed animation, briefly frozen before the next exhaustive engagement with nameless terrors are resumed. This subject matter is portrayed once more in Concentrate on Your Breathing where the central dark form floats momentarily within the white borders of the print but than oozes beyond the printing plates edges , seeping onto the bleached margins of the printed paper. Calm breathing encourages the emotional outpouring to escape the periphery of the minds restraint in a balanced determined rate, moderating rising angst to endurable levels.


Please Mind Me 1

Meagre marks that possess poignant if austere imagery have a dynamism that concentrates the viewers eye with an intensity that are absent in more complex representations. This effective approach is used successfully in Please Mind Me 1, where a simple curved, open ended line holds a single tender yellow dot. The hesitant opening like a harbours mouth, permits the vagaries of life enter the fixed solitude of a tattered inner sanctum and although not immune from fear or hurt will help embrace the evergreen light a new beginning cultivates. The powerful symbolism portrayed with minimalist means offers a complex insight into a fractured minds excruciating descent through the shrouded layers of the inner self that eventually leads to recovery. These works stand solemnly unabated in their searing pursuit of truth and have a cathartic quality that rewards close scrutiny from a receptive viewer.


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: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Mary Claire Kehoe,

Des Kenny Reviews Bernie Masterson - Weather

October 2, 2014

26 September 2014 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny gives a personal response to our current exhibition by Bernie Masterson, 'Weather'.

Bernie Masterson’s exhibition in Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery explores the forever changing weather of the Irish landscape. Its moods and unpredictable character are portrayed in fragmented but lyrical moments. The artist edits from a flurry of constant movement an instant which charges the scene with poetic meaning rather than a factual interpretation.


Storm Surge


Storm Surge the largest work in the show describes massive unforgiving waves cascading towards shore, so large they engulf the sky. The rampaging swell pushed by accelerating winds tear white spume from the waves that flays the air like spikes on a railing. Swirling expressive brushstrokes through wet paint convey the wave’s virulent energy more convincingly than a factual rendition. The destructive force of such waves destroyed harbours and engulfed farmland on the west coast in the recent past.



Squall Line

On the adjacent wall Squall Line reveals an inclement dark mass of sky pushing on the shuddering green land that occupies the bottom third of the painting. The oppressive bulk of the oncoming tempest flattens the bewildered horizon to an indeterminate dissolving presence. The rough furrowed green earth locked in silence absorbs the storms wounding energy. In Low Cloud the numb brown earth is gradually released from the skies watery grip and breathless, waits for a vagrant sun to dry and rejuvenate the land.

Ash Cloud's dominant blackness seeps downward, saturating white clouds with choking dust from an erupting volcano. Such a cloud suffused with glass like sand, grounded planes throughout Europe. Earthbound we ranted against authorities who inconveniently took away our freedom of the heavens. The power of nature dissipates man’s privileges with indifference and reminds us of our inconsequential smallness. No dust particles assail the rich blueness in the painting Clear Day. Cerulean blue fills the sky and is mirrored in equal measure by a reflective sea. Air and water momentarily fused in a transient marriage of elements. The horizon line disappears and an island floats between heaven and sea in a timeless blue veil.



Flood Fields

A chilly still whiteness fills the picture plane as flooded arable land is depicted, submerged by water in Flood Fields. Patches of green fight for air before drowning, overwhelmed by rising waters caused by torrential rain. These flooded fields may be the effect of climate change but Masterson remains silent on the subject and captures its calamitous consequence with an analytical eye.



Creeping Fog

In Creeping Fog, a white mist races eerily across the land capturing unwary walkers in its enveloping silver shroud and suddenly without warning they become disorientated and lost. Forlorn like a sleepwalker caught in a trance, a traveller must hope the unbound blindness lifts and their pathway is illuminated once again.



Evening Sky

Evening Sky 
denotes a land at last becalmed and free from the turmoil of constant inclement weather. A setting sun swathed in white yellow shimmers in calm repose as silhouetted trees dissolve in a golden haze. The upper atmosphere turns mauve with shades of subdued blue and the frail air is suspended in serene detachment. We need ephemeral moments like these to reinvigorate stillness, sourced at the cradle of our existence. Paintings like this act as a gateway to help enshrine this tranquil state.


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: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Bernie Masterson, Desmond Kenny,

In Acting Shakespeare - Audience Reviews

September 29, 2014

Reviews from New York ... of 'In Acting Shakespeare' coming to Draiocht in 2 weeks on 15 October 2014 ...



I highly recommend this wonderful show!

'I loved this one man show. I found it clever, funny, touching, heartfelt and informative. I thought the stage craft was excellent. The interweaving of William Shakespeare's life with Mr DeVita's was satisfying. I enjoyed very much the imagined scene in which Shakespeare rehearses Hamlet with Richard Burbage. And I found touching Mr DeVita's reverence for listening in the theater. The theme that parents, especially fathers, are never happy when sons go into the theater, was effectively illustrated. Mr DeVita has given the audience a gift by demonstrating how it is that an actor works, overcoming obstacles both professional and personal, to be someone authentic and understandable on the stage ... I would highly recommend this show to everyone. Young people would enjoy it immensely. A great introduction to Shakespeare and the power and craft of the theater.
– Bill Merrill, New York ...


It's Passion that makes it work.
Mr. DeVita  ... is a very high energy person and one can only imagine what his energy must have been like when he was 19 years old ... it was a very moving evening of intelligent theatre. Mr. DeVita has a wonderful story to tell. He is a very talented actor. He uses his voice, his body, and WORDS to full advantage. He is funny. He is sincere. I am in the theatre myself and I could relate many times to his story. The ups and downs. The tenacity it takes. The hard work. The hours and hours of training that turn into years and years and then decades and decades. Mr. DeVita has a very obvious passion for Shakespeare. His passion, like most genuine passions, becomes infectious. Mr. DeVita is not aiming his show for the consumption of other Shakespearean actors. Or fancy reviewers. His show is aimed at those who might not be comfortable listening to Shakespeare. I see over 50 shows a year. I still have difficulty sitting through most productions of Shakespeare. He makes the point, using his own life experiences, that Shakepeare wrote about the same situations and emotions we deal with today. The human condition is much the same in many ways as it was in his day. Yes we are more comfortable, but we still mourn at loss and we still laugh when something is funny. If you prick us, do we not still bleed? I congratulate Mr. DeVita for his passion. If only more people had his passion for what they do. If only more people had the perseverance and tenacity Mr. DeVita has shown in his life, this world would be a better place.
– George Spelvin, NYC


Book now ... tel 01-8852622 ... 
Or Online ... here ... 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Theatre,

Clown Choir will Perform on Culture Night in City Centre

September 18, 2014



Draiocht's Hallelujah Clown Choir are travelling into Dublin's City Centre for Culture Night this Friday 19 September 2014.

You can catch them indoors in City Hall at 7.30pm, click here for more.

Followed by an outdoor slot in Barnardo's Square at 8.15pm.

We hope to see you there!

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By Draíocht. Tags: Clown Choir, Veronica Coburn,

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