Other theatre writing from around the web

Here are some bits and pieces that I came across on twitter recently. They are all from the UK, a lot of them are from the Guardian.co.uk and some from other small blogs.

The Irish theatre community is small, and Dublin is smaller again. I mostly like the smallness. Small means it actually feels like a community, you know what other people are up, people support each other, etc. But it can be risky; communities can become inward-looking and isolated. They have to avoid self-absorption and clique-y-ness and thinking that their little bubble is the centre of the universe. It’s important to keep looking outwards, seeing what other people are doing, be open to new influences. Luckily the internet makes that really easy!

  • Can a relationship with theatre change people’s relationship to society?
    Slightly misleading title, I think. This Guardian article is about audience participation, artist engagement, immersive and interactive theatre and is full of links to other writings about all of those topics.

  • Little Acts of Hope
    Written by Action Hero’s James Stenhouse it about how the audience affect a show. The story at the beginning is really lovely.

  • Trust
    This blog post by Mary Halton was written just after Forced Entertainment performed Quizoola live in Sheffield and online for 24 hours. It’s about a different form of audience engagement.

A couple of articles from the Guardian about funding, and what companies and theatres should do to be “deserving” of public funding:

And an article by Lyn Gardner about an experiment in Stockton’s ARC theatre with a pay-as-you-go initiative, as a way of encouraging more people to go to the theatre. This is worth keeping an eye on, I think.

Theatre this February

As you are now so once were we opened in the Peacock this week. This was one of my favourite shows of the Fringe Festival and I’m looking forward to seeing it again. It’s funny and clever and made me smile; I can’t recommend it highly enough! It’s on until the 5th February.

The following week Connected opens in the Project. This is another show from last year’s Fringe, but one I didn’t manage to see. It was a Show in the Bag show and was nominated for Bewley’s Little Gem Award during the Fringe.

Bewley’s Café Theatre relaunched their website this week and it’s worth a look. ‘Life’ – a one woman show, on this Saturday evening looks interesting.

Also coming up in February is The Theatre Machine Turns You On – Volume II at the Project, February 15 – 19. I completely missed this mini-festival last year, so I’m looking forward to seeing a few shows this time around. The Project also has a Real Deal where you can get tickets to four shows for €22 – great value!

Corn Exchange

The fabulous, wonderful Corn Exchange have two shows on in Dublin this month.

Happy Days is on at the Project until November 20th and then Freefall starts in the Abbey on November 23rd.

I saw Happy Days at the Abbey with Fiona Shaw as Winnie a couple of years ago. It was part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. I am happy to see it again because I think it’s a play that probably improves with repeated viewings. It’s Beckett so it’s not surprising that it’s a bit odd. The couple sitting next to me left at the interval, thinking the play was over. They happened to be having a coffee in the foyer when the announcement came on to say that the second half was starting soon.

In an almost perfect inverse I saw Freefall at the Project as part of last year’s Dublin Theatre Festival. Since then they have been to Edinburgh and Mexico (I love the photos from that trip!). I thought it was a beautiful show and will probably be dragging a few people along to see it in the Abbey.

You should go see both because Corn Exchange are a wonderful company who a pretty much guaranteed to give you a great night’s entertainment, and be moving and thought-provoking too. And if you are still not convinced, go see Happy Days on Wednesday when all tickets are only €12 and see what you think!

Sneak peak at the Fringe

The full Fringe programme won’t be released until August 18 but there are a few highlights listed in the Project’s latest programme. Along with Trilogy, I am also looking forward to this:

As you are now, so once were we
Why haven’t you read Ulysses? The most important Irish work of the last century is also the most unknown. Why? Spirit of the Fringe 2009 award winner The Company is back to ask you who you think you are, where you think you belong and to re-write one of the most relevant Irish literary works in light of the ways we now communicate with each other. This year The Company rediscovers what it means to be Irish.

The Company had the infuriating and fascinating Who is Fergal Kilpatrick? in last year’s Fringe and I am very interested to see their take on Ulysses. It’s a big, fat book, and an ambitious project to take on, but one with huge scope.

I read Ulysses about ten years ago. (I was going through a Classics phase.) It took me months but I was determined to finish it. I started reading it shortly after I moved to Dublin for the first time, and I think that really helped me to connect with the book. When my aunt drove me back to Dun Laoghaire on a Sunday evening, we would pass the Martello towers at Sandycove. I would see The Morning Star hotel on Amiens Street when I got the train from Connelly and was amazed that it was still there. It made the book seem more real. I will be interested to see what The Company do with it.

Sorcha Kelly’s My Life in Dresses is another Fringe show that I will be looking out for. It was part of the last Project Brand New (fourth one down) and I’m interested to see how the show will develop from that work-in-progress. I’ve also been keeping up-to-date with her blog for the project. Her dresses have been up to all sorts of adventures!

I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the full programme and finding out what other treats the Fringe has in store!

Krapp’s Last Tape

On Wednesday night, I saw Krapp’s Last Tape at the Gate. It was a strange show because it was so short (only an hour long) and Beckett is just a bit odd in general. I’m never sure if I like Beckett. I’m not really a fan of post-modernism but sometimes his language is so evocative and beautiful that it makes me think I get it. I don’t find him an easy playwright to love.

Krapp’s Last Tape is about a man, called Krapp, who records his thoughts (nice, old-fashioned spools of tape) every year on his birthday. He also really likes bananas. The play is set on the night of his 79th (ish) birthday. He listens to a tape from his 39th birthday, which also seems to be a birthday tradition – listening to the ramblings of his younger self, and then insulting them – and then makes his new tape. And that’s the play.

It’s full of interesting ideas – the tradition of recording your thoughts on your birthday, the idea that your younger self as someone to be despised, the endless making of resolutions that are never followed through on (something I’m definitely guilty of) – but it’s also about this one man, who loves bananas but seems to have lost everything else he loved.

Beckett asks a lot from his actors. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when the actor is Michael Gambon and more than up for the challenge. His performance was superb. His Krapp was grumpy and fed up of life but there were still comedic moments. And moments of heartbreak. He was so old and feeble you couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. (My mum was relieved when Michael Gambon bounded enthusiastically onstage for his bow at the end. She had been worried about him.)

It was a nice little play but to me, it felt too short. I would have liked to hear more from Krapp. I wanted to know more about him and what had happened in his long life to bring him to this point in time.

I enjoyed the play but I did think it was a little over-priced for such a short show. We went on the Wednesday when tickets were “only” €25. Tickets for Friday and Saturday night shows are €35. The cost is my main problem with shows at the Gate but I have others! It’s probably my least favourite theatre in Dublin. For some reason, whenever I go there, at some point throughout the performance I will become very aware that I’m in a theatre, watching people pretend. I have no idea why but it just doesn’t seem to be able to sustain the theatrical magic for me.

For me, Krapp’s Last Tape was a nice little play, but not a must-see by a long shot.

Who is Fergal Kilpatrick?

Who is Fergal Kilpatrick? is on in the Project this week. You should go and see it; it’s a very interesting show. I saw it during the Fringe Festival and although I wasn’t blown away by it, I did find it a very interesting hour of theatre.

I think my problem with the show was that it didn’t engage me emotionally. It was very intellectually engaging and it did make me think, even after I left the theatre, but I didn’t feel anything for the characters.

Still a show worth going to see.