I was only in Dublin for four days of this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival but I still had a great festival! I was there with my entire MA class as part of our course! This meant free tickets! It also meant I was surrounded by other people who were seeing theatre everyday. We were all eager to talk about the things we’d seen and what we’d liked and didn’t like. It was wonderful.
I’ve really engaged with the Theatre Festival over the last couple of years, especially last year when I was volunteering, but often I see shows on my own. There are loads of reasons for this – most of the shows in the Theatre Festival are expensive and I feel bad asking a friend to pay to come along with me, especially if I’m going to something out of curiosity and half-expect to hate it. I think I would have very uncomfortable if I’d brought someone along to see Tim Crouch’s The Author last year. I feel I’m a little bit responsible for the person I bring to the theatre; I want them to have a good time. And sometimes I just want to go to the theatre on my own. However I did like sharing this year’s festival with my classmates and having people to discuss the shows with. I liked hearing what other people thought and about the other shows they had seen. It was especially nice to do it with people who are coming from the same place I am – they are interested in theatre as a possible career. They are looking at it in the same way as I am, a way that it slightly different to the way my friends do when I drag them along to the theatre. (That’s an exaggeration – there’s my dragging, just gentle persuasion and sometimes just a suggestion that is eagerly accepted. I do have friends who like theatre.)
I loved being in Dublin again and I loved seeing so much great theatre. I think it was a fantastically strong festival. I saw six very different shows (Juno and the Paycock, Laundry, The Lulu House, Rian, Peer Gynt and Request Programme) and there’s easily another six (Trade, The Wild Bride, She She Pop and their Fathers, Gob Squad, Heroin, I ♥ Alice ♥ I) that I’m sorry I missed out on. I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival especially since it will have a new director in the shape of Mr. Willie White.
Eternal Rising of the Sun was another one-woman show. There were a lot of them in this year’s Fringe Festival and that’s no bad thing, especially when they are as good as this.
It’s a slightly harrowing tale of Gina, a woman who has been used and abused by most, if not all, of the men in her life. But she’s not giving up. She’s taking dance classes, just for herself, just because she loves to dance. It’s an uplifting show in it’s own quiet way.
The show is written and performed by Amy Convoy and follows the success of her first play I ♥ ALICE ♥ I which won the Fishamble New Writing Award in last year’s Fringe Festival and got another run in this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival. It’s a great script, slowly revealing more about Gina as the story goes on. This is exactly how you can imagine you would get to know the character. Amy also gives a wonderful performance. She plays Gina with a sort of contained energy, like there is a whole lot going on inside that we are only getting a glimpse of.
I hope Amy Conroy keeps making wonderful, moving shows like this one!
Where Do I Start? was a lunchtime show about idenitiy and finding your place in the world. It was a one-woman show and the performer (Nyree Yergainharsian) introduced the show as if it was a seminar or group workshop about figuring out who you are. This clever opening gave context to the piece, acknowledged the audience and encouraged them to ask the same questions Nyree was asking about her own life. It also gave her an opportunity to give us a sense of why she had made this personal piece of theatre.
Nyree tells her story of growing up as an Irish-Armenian and the life she has lived up to this point. What makes this personal story so interesting and engaging for the audience is the simple, entertaining way she tells it. There is a lot of subtle humour and a sense of vulnerability from the performer.
I saw an earlier verison of this show as part of The Theatre Machine Turns You On last February and enjoyed it very much. This verison had more of a clearer shape to it and Nyree also used more physical movement to tell her story. There is a lovely section about how my mum and dad met for the first time that is told almost like a children’s fairytale, with larger than life characters and physical impersonations. Stories from before we are born often seems like family myths, especially when you hear them all the time when you’re growing up.
It was a very pleasant way to spend the hour and Nyree was a charming and entertaining host.
Tomorrow is the last day of the Dublin Theatre Festival and I do have a few bits and pieces to say about it (along with a couple of Fringe reviews that I have been meaning to post for the last three weeks!) but in the meantime a quick recommendation – if you are in Dublin tomorrow evening, go and see Tear Down the Walls in Fumbally Court, Dublin 8.
Project Brand New has invited six artists to create brand new work in response to this non-theatre space. Tickets are €5 and it’s happening at 6pm and 8pm tomorrow. I loved Project Brand New’s “Magic If…” in last year’s festival (Lynne Parker was particularly creative and articulate) and I think this will be very interesting.