Read the three finalists entries below and vote for next season’s My_Project Blogger in our poll in the right hand corner. Whoever gets the most votes wins. Good luck to all the finalists!!
I’m a writer/actor/director. Having studied English Lit, History of Art and Philosophy my interests are broad to say the least. The main reason I apply to this blogger competition is my friends told me to, which is really to give them some peace from my waxings, though they won’t admit that.
I don’t get to see enough theatre, especially of the kind I prefer: experimental, collaborative, and yoghurt-like. And I love to talk about it after, to digest it verbally.
Review: The Speckled Play
And here I am, like a school boy down the back of the bus, relieved to be seated watching others undergo the ordeal of eyes at the opening night of the Gate’s The Speckled People. The world première of the author’s adaptation of his own ‘extraordinary work’ and the Gate’s offering for the theatre festival.
Now, I could go on about the conflict of cultures, identity, and other thematic elements, and I have copious notes on set design, props, staging etc which I intended to lavish lovingly on you, setting the scene and what not, but, forget it.
There was a cast of nine, and one elephant. The elephant was having a grown man, and not a particularly youthful one, play a boy. Picture it: a man, some what of a five o clock shadow, being caressed and cared for by his thirty something mother! The mind gets the narrative, the dramaturgic device, but the unconscious is reeling and recoiling from the stimuli. I’m not asking for a seven year old, but would a thirteen or fourteen year old not have been a little more convincing? Yes yes: I understand the needs from the writing perspective as the character of ‘Hanni’ is the main narrator and therefore carries the play in many ways. But surely, dramaturgically, structurally it was an error.
So aside from the elephant, they speak in English but are supposed to be speaking in German, or is it Irish? When Mrs Hamilton speaks to the shopkeeper her English takes a German accent, meant to mean she is now not speaking in German, which is English, but is speaking in English with a German accent. Clear? Good. For when young Hanni is asked by an aunt, on his father’s side, who refuses to indulge her brother’s Irish fetish, what did he get for Christmas he then answers in syntactically backward English with a strong accent, meaning he is now attempting to speak English and the English he has spoke to us all along has been German, or is it Irish? Confused? So was I.
A little more thought into extracting a ‘play’ from the novel rather than trying to dramatise the novel would have been a safer option. But then, that would have required a playwright… The fact is nothing works in it, and doesn’t because without dramatic conflict everything else is simply ‘stuff’ as the Elizabethans would say. Commendable effort by the actors, but when you’re in a sow’s ear you are, and no amount of acting will change that.
I don’t care. Make it rough, make it clumsy, make anything but please make it something dramatic.
This is a cash cow for the Gate during the festival when fans of the book will surge and cluck towards it and, lest you think it, come away satisfied. They relive the joy of reading the book. I have not read the book, but after the ‘play’ it seems to me a middle class Angela’s Ashes, and is tonally reminiscent of Barry at his worst.
Go see it, just for the elephant.
Tiebreaker: Modern art is like yoghurt – it is good for you, but tastes bad going down.
You may not like it, but in the end it’s good for you, as anything truly transformative in the arts is. It has to break the mould and mould breakers are never popular with the vast majority.
Yet I beg to differ. Who says it tastes bad? There are others who, like masochists and pain, enjoy that ‘bad’ taste so that bad comes full circle and is considered ‘good’.
And as for the digestive metaphor, I know some who love the taste but cannot stomach yoghurt. Some will always have an intolerance no matter how much they like the taste.
My name is Catherine and I would love the chance to be a blogger for the Project Arts Centre. I’ve had a long-time love affair with the arts, stretching back to when I starting treading the boards of my local theatre as a little kid. I enjoy all things art, music, comedy and theatre. I’m a journalism student and writing is a major passion of mine so being able to write about the things I enjoy most would be an amazing opportunity; to see and meet those behind the scenes, and help spread the word of the world of culture and entertainment on our doorsteps.
Review: Juno and the Paycock.
Staging a dramatic return
Juno and the Paycock is back on the Abbey stage
Abbey Theatre, September 2011
Directed by: Howard Davis
As exciting as it is to witness new work, there is something very satisfying about seeing an Irish classic, particularly when it is staged in the same settings as its very first performance. On Monday, March 3rd, 1924, Sean O’Casey’s tragedy in three parts, Juno and The Paycock, was unveiled to audiences and now, almost 90 years later it returns again to the Abbey Theatre.
The second in O’Casey’s ‘Dublin Trilogy’, the play tells the story of the Boyle family, juggling the life of the Irish working class, the influence of the Catholic Church, the ever-present reliance on alcohol, all in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising.
As soon as light filled the stage, I felt like I was dragged into the bleak living conditions and intoxicating pessimism of 1920’s Ireland. Tall ceilings, flaking wallpaper and heavy, bare furniture filled the wonderfully authentic set. Hunkering characters came alive and thick Dublin accents burst from them.
‘Captain’ Jack Boyle (Ciarán Hinds) and his wife Juno (Sinéad Cusack) live with their two children, Mary (Clare Dunne) and Johnny (Ronan Rafferty). Juno’s daily routine involves constant attempts to get Jack to work, with his unwillingness to do anything except loitering in the ‘snug’ with pal and drinking buddy, Joxer Daly (Risteárd Cooper), proving a challenge.
Luckily for Jack, it seems as though his family’s worries are over when a relative leaves a considerable inheritance to him. Caught up in the glamour of their promised riches, Juno and Jack begin to live a life of luxury before their new perfect life begins to crumble. Although dealing with some of the darker sides of life, such as violence in Ireland, alcoholism, and the harsh views of extramarital sex, humour and tragedy is married seamlessly and the audience can go from holding in tears to laughing aloud in a matter of minutes.
Ciarán Hinds steals attention in many scenes with his delightfully warm portrayal of the jovial, yet hopeless ‘Captain’ Jack. He is convincing as the happy-go-lucky joker of the piece right through to Jack’s descent into solitude. Along with Risteárd Cooper and his “darlin’” catch phrase, the pair make a charming comedy duo.
Clare Dunne’s performance as love-struck Mary and Sinead Cusack as the ever-suffering Juno are both heartfelt. The once-strong mother and daughter are broken down as the story unfolds and both actresses beautifully display the heart-breaking trials they have to endure.
An excellent ensemble cast, beautiful set and timeless dialogue, Juno and The Paycock is a stylish, emotionally charged version of a classic. Humour is weaved delicately through the dark themes. Pride, shame and violence are traits that still speak to us today. As ‘Captain’ Jack himself says: “Th’ whole worl’s in a terrible state o‘ chassis”
Tiebreaker: Modern Art is like yoghurt – it’s good for you but tastes bad going down
Modern Art is like that carton of natural yoghurt sitting in a shelf of your fridge. You got it because you felt like you should, that you should behave yourself and steer away from the sugary, chocolate flavored ones.
The thing with natural yoghurt is that while we might not want to glug it down on its own, we use it when making so many other things. We have a taste for it without even realising. Modern art is something we enjowithout even knowing it ourselves
. Francis Wasser
I am a practising artist based in Dublin currently studying a MFA at the National College of Art and Design. I wish to take part in this project to further develop my writing and research methodologies. I believe that the review acts as a rendering of liminal territories that form between all parties within the arts. The review is the space between the audience and the event, the artists and the venue, reception and criticism. The review is a platform to further forge the necessity of engaged critical thinking within our many cultures. If selected I will utilise the blog to help make visible the vibrancy of activities, people and events that make the Project Arts Centre everything that it is, an essential arts centre in the heart of dublin with its doors open to all.
A Review of Liam Gillick’s A Game of War Structure at Imma, running now -October 31st 2011
I asked Liam Gillick in the toilets of Imma ‘How did Guy de bord die?’ to which he replied ‘Well, that’s an interesting question you know, because he never really did die.’ It is not widely known that Guy de bord of the Situationist Internationale(SI) met his demise by his own hand. De Bord shot himself in the heart at his property in Champot, France , on November 30, 1994. Gillick continued by saying that over lunch with several theorists he had prompted De bord’s death but no interest was expressed in this troubling fact. The conversation continued from the sinks across the courtyard to the bar. The topic of conversation was Simon Critchley’s 2008 book ‘The book of dead philosophers’. Critchley’s text centres on philosophy and the fundamental problems of our society globally. Citing Seneca ‘He will live badly who does not know how to die well.’ Critchley declares that ‘to philosophise is to learn how to die’.
A Game of War Structure, a new work by Liam Gillick is a configuration of Guy de bords 1977 war game ‘the kriegspiel’ translated as a ‘game of war’. De bords inspiration for the game came from 18th century french military theory. The game is played over 500 squares of 20 by 25. The objective is to destroy the opposition by either eliminating your opponents forces or deactivating their arsenals. The first move in chess is often considered as an immediate advantage. This game differs from chess in that each of the two players begin the game by placing their pieces wherever they want to.There are three boards placed around the courtyard of Imma and the pieces and instruction manual are obtained by handing over government identification at the main reception.
Games can take time. Gillick has never produced a piece like this before however throughout the duration of the game certain formal aspects of the work become apparent. The height of the board results in leaning on it as you would lean on the counter at a bank or a fast-food restaurant. The slick finish of the board has an effect as such that it feels that the game is a negotiation of something that is actually at stake be it a mortgage or collecting the dole. Gillicks milieu is ever present, furthermore it is a functioning construct but by no means a metaphor.
De bord produced the game at the age of 46, a decade after the events of May 68 of which he and the SI played a pivotal role in.One can imagine De bord sitting down after all is said and done, in a similar manner to duchamp dedicating his later life to the playing of chess. It is in this that Gillick’s passing comments on Critchley seem to fit. Notably, Gillick is also the same age now that De bord was when he set up his game company.
A Game of War Structure is a refreshing installation counterpointing the over saturated and needlessly metaphorical narratives, objects, situations and events currently running around Dublin…specifically.
Tie Breaker: “Modern Art is like yoghurt – it’s good for you but tastes bad going down”
I am not in favour of metaphor, this one in particular I find immensely problematic. Who wrote this? That said, I’ll go along with it. So Imagine me saying all of the below in a highly sarcastic accent, not that I am a fan of sarcasm:Modern Art may have been like yogurt in so far that it came in so many different flavours, if it is not well refrigerated it goes off and curds, and every now again you prepare yourself for the taste of chocolate and have to deal with the criminal texture of hazelnut….yuk.