Pageant plays Draiocht on Thursday 14 March, 8pm. Tickets €18/€14 conc ... Book Here ...
A review of Pageant at Project Arts Centre by Brendan O'Rourke Taken from Entertainment.ie
All this week Project Arts Centre enjoys the privilege of premiering CoisCéim's latest piece of dance theatre. David Bolger and Muirne Bloomer's Pageant aims to "swing the batons of dance theatre to higher levels than before" but does it make you want to dance? The answer is a definite yes.
During the opening sequence, we see a man and woman, sitting opposite each other at a table. We're told they share a set of headphones, that they hear the same thing but different. This seemingly ordinary scenario builds into a fully formed display of dance. This idea of musicality lying just beneath the surface of even the most mundane tasks carries throughout Pageant, inviting the audience to discover the extraordinary and the pageantry in the everyday. All this is done with humour and a sense of fun that never seems forced and is a brilliant accent to the emotive choreography.
In larger group numbers the dynamic shifts between the dancers moving in perfect synch with one and other, to canon based movements, to segments where each simultaneously demonstrates their individuality. At times there is a lot to look at on stage - when the entire troupe are involved in these larger scenes - but thanks to a minimalistic set, you never feel like you're missing out. Instead the structure of the choreography draws your attention from one performer to the next.
Whilst we're on the topic of the dancers themselves, as you'd expect from any CoisCéim production there is fantastic talent on display here from the seven performers but it is their unity as an ensemble that makes them even more watchable. These larger numbers are punctuated with evocative solos, but again even in these isolated moments there's a comic timing present, that surprises without jarring the audience. Pageant also features a suitably varied soundtrack, which makes for the perfect score, with one of the most entertaining and memorable scenes playing out to T-Rex's Cosmic Dancer.
Probably the most impressive aspect of Pageant, is that CoisCéim have taken their incredibly high level of ability, their flare for innovative choreography and formed what is an instantly accessible piece of dance theatre. The idea of a contemporary dance show may turn some people off, but to overlook Pageant based on this would be a true shame. CoisCéim's latest offering is provoking, funny and entrancing.
Choreography: David Bolger and Muirne Bloomer
Cast: Muirne Bloomer, David Bolger, Jen Fleenor, Robert Jackson, Mónica Muñoz Marín, Jonathon Mitchell and Emma O'Kane.
Star rating: 4.5 / 5
A review of Pageant at Project Arts Centre by Brendan O'Rourke Taken from Entertainment.ie
A Skull in Connemara plays Draiocht on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 March, 8pm. Tickets €18/€14 conc ... Book Here ...
Interview with Andrew Flynn, A Skull In Connemara
Andrew Flynn and his Decadent Theatre bring A Skull In Connemara out on tour this Spring. One of Martin McDonagh’s funniest plays it was nominated for an Olivier award in 1997. Guaranteed to make you laugh, squirm and avoid graveyards Caomhan Keane speaks to the Irish Times Theatre Award nominee here.
What's the story behind A Skull in Connemara for people who might not know?
A Skull in Connemara, is the middle play of Martin McDonaghs Leenane Trilogy. The play follows the story of Mick Dowd , a local man who each year takes on the task to disinter the bones from graves over seven years laid to rest to make way for new arrivals. This task is much to the discomfort of Mick’s neighbours and rumours are plenty regarding what he does with the bones and skulls once disturbed from their resting place. The play opens on the days leading up to yet another removal. However this year Mick has the task of digging up his own late wife Oona. This sparks further controversy given the fact that his late wife died in very suspicious circumstances. Add into this mix, nosy neighbours, troublesome teenagers and an ambitious Guard and it provides a rollercoaster ride through McDonagh’s black comic world.
Why stage a production now?
I really love to stage Martin’s work and this play hadn't been given a major production in 16 years. I was excited by producing a McDonagh play that audiences weren't familiar with. I also felt that the play was originally staged as part of a trilogy and in some ways was choked by the other two plays. Staging it as a stand-alone play meant we could focus on making the play work and creating Martin's vision for the play without being compromised by the demands of the other plays.
What does McDonagh possess that makes him the most successful Irish playwright of the past 20 years?
Martin’s work is laced with brilliant comic humour and yet at its heart is dark. Achieving both things are difficult but essential. I feel people believe the characters and relate to them even though he brings them to the extreme. Martin is a brilliant storyteller and has a universal quality to the characters. This has been vital to his global success. He also makes us laugh at things we know we probably shouldn't laugh at. This is wicked and this is something that energises an audience.
Every production I've seen of a McDonagh play in the past three years has gone hell for leather with gory comedy and ignored the cruelty and emotions that earn us the pay out. How have you avoided this?
I hope we have, I think the work is very funny but at its core is a loneliness and darkness. I feel that if you lose that then the plays don't work. I had a fantastic group of actors who all felt like that and are very conscious of finding that dark edge. Without it you wander close to panto.
There's a belief that his work is dated. You clearly don't believe that since you are mounting one of his shows. What universal message do you think his work tells us about Ireland?
I really don't feel his work is dated. I grew up in rural Ireland in the late 80s early 90s and having worked in the family pub I certainly know a lot of characters that could walk directly into a McDonagh play. They exist and I feel audiences know people like the characters they are meeting. His plays look at people and how cruel they can be to each other. Having talked to audience members their reaction was that the madness of the play is more apt today than ever.
Michael Billington wondered if he had anything original to say? What would you say, if anything, in his defense?
I feel he is brilliantly original; his language is completely original and very beautiful when you get the rhythms. He is a master storyteller who has the ability to bring people into his world. Watching his play with an audience it’s a thrill to see how involved the audience becomes, and not just with the comic elements. I see them grimace, gasp and flinch. When he first exploded on to the scene I remember someone saying, he is just another John B. Keane another rural kitchen sink drama. I remember thinking that in the rural kitchen sink dramas they were referring to, you don't see a woman torture and kill their mother. So I feel he is very original and has a lot to say.
Congrats on your Best Director nod for the Irish Times Theatre Awards. How do you feel about the whole shebang?
I am delighted, it is nice to be recognised and feel honoured to be in the category with such hugely talented people.
What do you make of Gary Hynes exclusion from the list?
I thought it was strange and feel the achievement with Druid Murphy was a huge achievement, I feel that this has been recognised through the best production nomination.
A Skull in Connemara plays Draiocht on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 March, 8pm. Tickets €18/€14 conc ... Book Here ...
Documentary theatre writer Una McKevitt and our reigning Standup Comedian of the Year winner Eric Lalor sat down with Aoife Ryan, Entertainment.ie to discuss the return of the hit show Singlehood and its upcoming performances in Vicar St.
Singlehood had a sell-out run at the Dublin Fringe Festival and was lauded for it's hilarious, raw honesty about relationships and the ups and downs of singledom. It returns to stage on March 1st and 2nd 2013.
How did you come up with the idea for the show Una?
Una: Well I had just finished a play called 'The Big Deal' which was quite a serious piece based on the experience of being transgender that was a little bit heavy and arty so I was trying to think of something fun and light, and more of an ensemble show... I wanted something that would appeal to people outside of theatre. Initially I just thought it was the worst idea I ever had because it's so simple and you know it's not massively original. All these shows like Friends and Happy Endings are based on the idea of being single but of course the hook is the person ends up in a relationship. Singlehood is not really viewed as a destination but as a purgatory. It's not a failure but people have the expectation of ending up with someone. It's also trying to convince everyone else you're happy. They think 'oh you're happy being single but you'd be happier in a relationship'. One has to be a little defensive at times, even looking at friends of mine who are going to ordinary events like weddings and trying to get an invitation without a plus one. There are all these kinds of politics around relationships. We celebrate them and there's all these rituals surrounding them. Look at the Sex and the City episode about celebrating singlehood and having a party just for you rather than for getting married or having babies. I was in a relationship for so long and had just broken up. I never thought about wanting to be single, but I finally thought 'it's time to be single for the love of god'.
How did you become involved with the show Eric?
Eric: Initially I met Una and Dave in the Fringe offices and we were talking about other projects when I was brought into another room that left me wondering what was going on. What proceeded was an interview for Singlehood. What was great about it was it brought me back to those single days, back to a place full of true panic. Around the age of twenty one I hadn't had a serious relationship. I think my longest relationship was maybe two or three months and a lot of my friends had been going out with girls since they were eighteen - long-term relationships- and I thought if I don't get my act together I'm going to be left on the shelf. Now when you look back you can't help think how stupid you were but at the time it made sense. I thought I had better get myself into a relationship or I'll be single forever, which is just bullshit really. So when Singlehood came along I thought of all this and it really got me interested. The tagline is 'any dope can be in a relationship' which is very true. I loved the humour in it and there are some parts that are quite poignant in it which is great too. Excuse the clichéd phrase but it's a real rollercoaster. Overall it is more humour based than poignant but I think it has to be.
Una: It's important to have someone in the show who is happily married like Eric. It creates that necessary balance.
Was it difficult to display such a personal part of your life to an audience?
Eric: It wasn't that hard because I'm used to putting that on stage anyway with stand up. You can only talk about what you know and your own experiences and to me that is the closest to stand up that I do in the show. That's the part I relax because they're my own lines. There isn't that added pressure of having to get someone else's lines right. Doing my own bits was when I was the most confident.
What drives you towards the subject of relationships Una? Are you most interested in romantic relationships?
Una: I'm more interested in human interactions generally. There's a big responsibility taking on other people's personal lives and I'm terrified about working on someone else's marriage or something. Friendship is a theme I keep coming back to. Friendship is still a big mystery to me. I'm interested in why and how we connect and the ups and downs of those connections.
Where any revelations made throughout the process about relationships? In particular did any of the variables such as age, gender or sexuality make a difference in people's attitudes towards relationships?
Una: Yes they do make a difference I think. We interviewed between fifty to sixty people overall. No in terms of the commonality that everyone thought they would ultimately meet somebody. Another thing people had in common was continuing to struggle through past relationships. Both men and woman had that in common. For men the fear of losing their freedom and having a boss was a recurring theme.
Eric: 'I don't want to be told what to do ', that kind of thing.
Una: For women it was more that they found it hard to meet a decent guy and where to meet them.
Eric: For decent guy read obedient guy.
Una: One woman said they're either an alcoholic or a head banger. I suppose you could say the sexes were cautious of relationships for different reasons. Age wise the use of internet dating was huge, especially for those who were divorced or separated. It had never worked out for the people we were talking to or they never heard of anyone it worked out for but what it did do was give a huge boost of confidence. So seeing the trauma that people go through in trying to get over a break up in this country, it's such a palaver. It's just about feeling you're not invisible.
Eric: You're back in the game.
Una: It's the revelation that you're allowed. After a long-term relationship it's hard not to feel like its cheating so it takes awhile to realise it's over, you are allowed to move on.
As the writer do you reveal any of your own memories in the play through the other characters Una?
Una: I tried to. I wrote it with Dave. We tried to put our own stuff in but it just never worked. It wasn't a conscious decision to stay out of it but nothing we found interesting enough to include came out if the interviews we did between the two of us, with him interview me and vice versa. You are so hooked into everybody else it's hard to remove yourself on that level but I can identify with the other stories.
You said you're used to displaying your own personal details on stage because of your stand up experience but was it nerving at all to do something different Eric?
Eric: I was looking forward to it from the beginning but what I was nervous about was performing someone else's material, somebody else's script. You want to do justice to it. The first time we did the project arts centre was one of the most nervous I've ever been. Stand up is a piece of piss in comparison. But then after the first two or three shows I got into the groove and felt more confident. There was still that pressure that it could all go tits up and I could let everyone down but that keeps you on your toes.
Why do you think it's been such a big hit?
Una: Our ambition was to provide a good night out and I'm not sure that's always what you get from theatre. You might get food for thought certainly or really confused. Singlehood is short and sweet; it doesn't take itself seriously or pretend it's something it isn't so I think that might have an appeal to people.
Eric: There's so many stories and different angles that everyone has a part in the show they can identify with and relate to. When they see the cast on stage having a good time it transmits into the audience and they then invariably have a good time. We are going to Vicar St on a Friday and Saturday night and they are the entertainment nights. We want people to go and just enjoy themselves. We don't want to send people home depressed and introspective.
Una: It's a show people can laugh and drink through and it's a show that doesn't ask for a lot of reverence from its audience. We are talking directly to the audience which makes a difference as well. Our eyes are always on them. We haven't had many heckles or disruptions yet.
Eric: That'll probably change now in Vicar St.
Una: There was a lady who got up and screamed during a performance of one of the songs called 'An Audience We'd Like to Fuck'. Another lady stood up alarmed and said it looked as if the actors were coming towards her during the song.
Eric: We do stand up and address the audience head on alright.
Una: It's their Westlife moment.
Eric: We walk towards them very suggestively I might add and in the Project Arts Centre it's an intimate setting so I can see why they would be a bit taken aback at first.
Is the music integral to the show?
Una: Yes. The songs are very tongue and cheek songs about sex by The Guilty Folk, a musical comedy duo. Their songs are as if they were written for the show, they just married really easily. One song is about a not very good looking man finding a not very good looking woman but when they made love they felt beautiful. Another is about sex toys on the shelf looking for a home.
Eric: It is such a difficult show to explain. A lot of people have been asking me about it and the one thing they say is 'a play? In Vicar St? I've never heard of that before'. To which I have to respond 'well it's not really a play'. They're then asking what it is then and I'm saying there are eight in the cast and there's music. They then jump to the conclusion it's a musical and I've to say 'god no it's not a musical'.
Una: We have no great singers.
Eric: So it is difficult to explain right away but that's the charm of it.
What are the future plans?
Una: We have a gig on Valentines' night in the Draiocht. I've always had visions of doing something with it on valentine's night, giving something back! We've been invited to Edinburgh for the festival after that and we are still looking for sponsors for that. Our producers found different comedy venues we can perform in that I never would have heard of in the world of theatre in Cork and Ardee amongst others.
Eric: The minute I did Singlehood I could see it working in a lot of comedy venues around the country. I was thinking this could really turn big if it wanted to you know. There's been interest and a few enquiries.
Una: Every minute of the day now is plugging away for Vicar St so that's all we can handle right now.
Singlehood (With support from stand-up comedian Maeve Higgins) plays at Vicar Street March 1st & 2nd. Tickets priced €23 on sale now.
Singlehood also plays Draiocht on Thursday 14th February, 8pm. Tickets €16/€12 conc ... Book Here ...
The Participants have their say after a year long Theatre project in Draiocht with Liam Halligan, culminating in an end of year performance 'You Yes You' ...
Read more here ...
I just want to say the last year being involved in Liam Halligans community project was amazing and something I won't forget in a hurry. Before this, I had always wanted to try an acting class but could never find something that suited, until this that was. After our first meeting I knew I wanted to be involved to the very end even if it was just doing props back stage and the community feeling was amazing. No one held back, which I think was largely due to Liam being such an open person, he didn't want you to do anything other than be yourself and create characters when needed.
Because of this experience I am looking into doing another acting group, though I dont know if it will be as good as the classes that Liam and Draoicht supplied to all of us in the cast. I would recommend anyone to look into any of the future projects Draiocht or Liam have, because honestly it is one of the best things you will ever sign yourself up to, even if I was sick with nerves before each performance :D
When I went to the first ‘You Yes You’ workshop, I hadn’t a clue what was in store. All the people who were doing the workshop were a few years older than me and being honest I was a bit overwhelmed that there was no one around the same age as me there. Not that I had a problem with that but I’d been so used to having everyone I did drama with being either younger or the same age as me and always competing for parts. But with the ‘You Yes You’ cast there was none of that. Everyone was behind everyone else. If you felt you couldn’t do something the cast was always behind you supporting you 100%. And the same goes for the amazing director Liam Halligan who kept the project so interesting and fun to do. He was open to any ideas the cast had. Everyone came out smiling and couldn’t wait for the next workshop. It was the highlight of my week - I couldn’t wait for Wednesday to come so I could just go to Draiocht and do the ‘You Yes You’ workshops with Liam and the rest of the cast. Liam always had the cast laughing at all of the workshops which made it so easy to get up on stage and act. ‘You Yes You’ is going to be missed and it’s a pity it was only a year long project. Because it was the best ever project in my opinion that has been done in Draiocht. And that’s thanks to Liam who was incredible to work with.
more coming soon ...