Theatre this November

It’s only a month since it all ended but the Dublin Fringe and Dublin Theatre Festival already seem like a long time ago. We’ve had time to get our breath back, catch up on sleep and recover from too many late nights in the festival clubs. It’s easy to be over-loaded with choice during the festivals and sometimes it can feel like you’ve over-dosed on great performances and fantastic productions over the two months. A hiatus might be necessary but if you stay away too long you might miss something wonderful!

One of my favourite shows from the last couple of years Pat Kinevane’s Silent is back at the Peacock until December 7, Wed-Sat at 8pm. I went to see it for the second time when it opened last week and once again, it was absolutely fantastic. Pat’s performance is captivating and Tito McGoldrick’s story of how he came to be living on the streets feels like a story that needs to be told, particularly now and particularly at this time of year.
Go see it but book soon because it is bound to sell out!

Silent is a Fishamble production and they have another show currently on tour that I am looking forward to seeing. Guaranteed! had a short run last summer when it played to packed theatres and was followed by passionate post-show discussions. This is Colin Murphy’s imagining of what happened on the night of the bank guarantee. Michael D Higgins said “I think people should come and view it. It’s very, very good.” He’s the president, I think we should do what he says. It’s playing in venues all over the country throughout November and there are more details here.

And for something completely different – those theatrical mavericks from Sheffield Forced Entertainment are in the Project next week (Thur 21 – Sat 23 November) with a new show called Tomorrow’s Parties. Forced Entertainment shows are usually strange and sometimes a little bit difficult but they are always interesting and I always find something new and wonderful in them. They’re always a little bit different and also very much themselves.

Fringe Awards

I feel like I should finish my Fringe Festival blogging before I can move on to writing about the Dublin Theatre Festival and there are a couple of things that have been thinking about over the last couple of weeks.

The last show of the festival was the Fringe Awards on the Sunday night. Loads of things I hadn’t seen got a mention and won awards but there were a few winners that I had seen. The lovely Camille O’Sullivan won Best Night at the Speilgeltent which was well deserved, though I’m not the most educated judge since hers was the only show I saw at the Speilgeltent!

Who is Fergal Kilpatrick? won one of the Best Show awards. I can’t decide if I liked this show or not. I got under my skin because it was a little bit too clever – things were set up and then the rug was pulled out from under your feet as soon as you felt like you knew what was going on. I liked the ideas behind the show and how they explored and confounded our expectations of theatre. It made me think but it didn’t really make me feel anything. I found it interesting but a little bit irritating. I am interested to see what they do next.

Another award-winning show that I did manage to see wasIris Brunette which was created and performed by Best Actress winner Melanie Wilson. I liked this show a lot and it has stuck with me though it was a strange experience. I feel lucky to have seen it because it played to a tiny audience of 20 in the Player’s Theatre at Trinity. It was a deceptively simple show with no set to speak of and a cast of one. It was almost the exact opposite of Who is Fergal Kilpatrick? – there was no trickery here, it was very much what you see is what your get. The artist cast the audience as other people in her strange dystopia and towards the end involved them in the performance by asking choose-your-own-adventure style questions. This simple show created such a rich world because of the wonderful performance by Melanie Wilson. She created the world through her character – the way she stood and moved and spoke were a result of that world, and as a result, that world felt very close at hand.

The main thing I got from the awards was the sense of community around the Fringe. Some might describe it as clique-y but I think that though it may seem like that from the outside, it is open to newcomers. The same names would come up again and again in the thank you speeches and the atmosphere felt supportive more than aggressively competitiveness. It is a community that I would very much like to be part and my new ambition is to have a show in near year’s Fringe Festival!

Dublin Fringe Festival

At the beginning of September, I was still getting used to having a full time job again and life was about to get even busier with the start of the Dublin Fringe Festival.

The last time I volunteered for the Fringe was in 2004. I wasn’t in youth theatre any more and it had been a while since I’d been on stage, or done anything theatrical in any way, shape or form. And I missed it. I didn’t realise how much I much I missed it until I started volunteering for the Fringe. I didn’t even last the whole festival because helping out and watching other people have all the fun made me so miserable. I think it was one of the things that finally pushed me towards studying drama.

I was a bit reluctant to volunteer this year because of my miserable experience the last time but I decided it had helped me get on the right path, and I should give it another change. I thought it would be a good way to find out what sort of work was being creating in Dublin, figure out a bit about the different companies in the city and what they’re up to and meet like-minded people.

And it worked out pretty well! I was insanely busy – working all week and then volunteering for 4 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays, and also trying to make time to go and see a few shows – but I enjoyed it. I did a few different shifts at different venues, working with different people and I had a great time. I had some great conversations with people with goals and ambitions that might be considered unconventional because they don’t revolve around making lots of money, people just like me! People were really easy to talk to and I was reminded of how much I’ve changed over the last four years. I’ve become much more confident and find it easier to start conversations with people I don’t know, I’m more sure of myself and feel that I have something to say that people will find worth listening to. I meet some great people, but I really make any new friends because I didn’t manage to get anyones number or e-mail address. I may be less shy than I used to be but I’m not that ballsy!

My favourite volunteering shift was the Saturday afternoon at Grand Canal Dock for a number of our-door performances. It was a beautiful, hot and sunny day and I was responsible for general crowd-control. I saw some great performances too. There was the physical performances inside a giant tube of water, which managed to be funny and beautiful, the guy “dancing” with a mechanical digger created a wonderful and powerful love story, and there was the two girls who hopped, skipped and jumped along a tight-rope – in high heels! They were untraditional, creative performances that the audience of families and small children loved. It was a really fun day.

I tried to go and see as many shows as I could, and take advantage of volunteer vouchers and concessions, but time-constraints made it difficult. I did go and see Little Gem at the Project with my mum and we both loved it. It was funny and touching and the three actresses were wonderful. I also saw Camille O’Sullivan (and friends) in the Speilgeltent for The Cat’s Meow. That was a great night out as well. I didn’t make it to La Clique, which I’m kicking myself for missing. I’ll definitely try and see it next year.

And just last Friday, I saw a wonderfully, weird show in the Samuel Beckett theatre called “I’m So Close It’s Not Even Funny.” It had a lot of the same themes as my dissertation piece and I think they managed to create the right sort of atmosphere for those themes. There was a lot of very clever multimedia that it reminded me of “Water”. It was a lovely and uplifting piece of theatre.

The last few weeks of theatre and work and running all over Dublin has left me exhausted but I enjoyed it immensely. I’m looking forward to the next Fringe Festival already! And next year, I want to be in it!

What now?

I finished working on Day Of The Figurines last week and moved back home to Ireland. I’m home now for the foreseeable future and I’m not sure what that future holds for me. I need to find a job and start paying back my debts to the bank and to my parents. I also need to figure out what sort of career path I want to take now that I have a 2:1 in Modern Drama Studies.

This week I have been doing lots of job hunting. I’ve applied for quite a few temporary admin jobs because the sooner I start earning money the better. And I’ve also applied for a couple of jobs “in the arts”. We’ll see if anything comes from any of it.

I’m looking forward to the Dublin Theatre Festival and the Fringe Festival in August and September. I’ve missed them over the last few years because they were happening when I was heading back to London. So I’m glad I’ll be around for that this year. I want to become much more familiar with what’s going on in theatre in Dublin. This week I’m going to see Phaedra’s Love at the Project and I’m looking forward to that.

We Are Here 3.0

I’m really enjoying my time in London. I love working at the Southbank Centre and I really like being in London during the summer, where it has been sunny almost everyday so far!

However I am disappointed to be missing We Are Here 3.0 which is going on in Dublin at the moment. I picked up a brochere for it when I went to see The Wonderful World of Dissocia in the Project a couple of weeks ago. (I liked the play a lot but not as much as I liked God in Ruins, another Anthony Neilson play, that I saw at Christmas.) The brochere describes it as performances that “use cities and their people as source material.”

It looks like a really interesting collection of performances, all of them seem to be non-traditional theatre and a lot use new media in an interesting way. There’s Etiquette, where two people wearing headphones through which they are told what to do and say, interact with each other or In Real Time where two rooms in different countries are connected via video and audio feeds and the performers and the audience in the two cities can interact with each other.

I would be very interested in seeing how they work and I think they are definitely worth checking out if you’re around Dublin at the moment.