Bram Stoker Festival

Dublin is a busy place; there’s always something going on. Tonight, for instance – Tara Flynn launched her new book in the Gutter Bookshop, Women in Film and TV Ireland held their first members event in the O’Callaghan Hotel on Stephen’s Green and the Panti Bliss documentary Queen of Ireland premiered in the Lighthouse Cinema. It’s one thing choosing not to go to some or all of these wonderful cultural events, but it’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out when you’re away from Dublin.

BramStoker

I’m heading off on my holidays tomorrow, and after the dark, damp weather this week it feels like the perfect time to do with it. I’m looking forward to the sun, sea and sangria even though it means I will be miss the wonderful Bram Stoker Festival which is happening around the city from Friday 23rd – Monday 26th. It looks like my kind of festival. There are lots of free events, including Stokerland in Wolfe Tone Square, a Maser installation in Smithfield Square and the always spectacular Macnas parade on Monday evening. There are also events happening in great venues such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Freemasons Hall.

If I wasn’t going to be in sunny Spain this weekend, I would definitely be booking a ticket for the New Blood night in Project and picking out a spot to watch the Macnas parade.

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Live Collision 2015

LiveCollision15I am always very appreciative of festivals who bring international artists to Dublin, especially smaller, more niche performers who generally don’t tour that often. This year’s Live Collision programme is a great mix of Irish and international artists. Visiting artists are also doing workshops or collaborating with Dublin-based performers, which I think is a great way to keep a festival vibrant and meaningful to local artists and audiences. This blog post is late – Live Collision started on Wednesday, so it’s half over at this stage, but there is still lots to enjoy.

There is an Artist Salon workshop on Friday afternoon with UK artists Curious. You have to bring with you some sort of ‘information’ about your body that is invisible to the naked eye. The workshop will involve writing and movement to create work both solo and collaboratively. Tickets are €15/20 and it’s on in Fringe Lab.

There are also lunch time talks taking place in Project on Friday and Saturday. These are public discussions, with questions from the audience. Friday’s theme is We are in Public, with Nic Green and Massive Owl and it’s about artists who create participatory work. Nic Green is part of this year’s festival and also did Trilogy in the Fringe in 2010, which I participated in. Massive Owl are doing an Artist Exchange with three Dublin-based performers as part of Live Collision. Saturday’s panel, We Are Only Human with Francis Fay, Amanda Coogan, Kris Nelson & Vaari Claffey will explore current trends in live art.

Irish artist Amanda Coogan is performing Smoking in Bolero in Meeting House Square on Friday night at 7pm and it’s one of the many free events happening across the festival. Another one is Nic Green‘s Abhann Liffe on Saturday evening. The meeting point for that performance is outside Project and it will take place at low-tide, which will be around 5.15pm.

There is also a performance in the Science Gallery as part of their new exhibition Home/Sick. It’s a live, interactive installation called 97 Years and will happen on Friday and Saturday at 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm. Tickets are €8 and available from the Science Gallery website. It’s nice to see the festival spread across the city.

And of course, there’s the main events of the festival – the double bill performances in Project Cube. On Friday night these are Workshy and 27 and on Saturday you can see Stud and Dickie Beau Unplugged. Tickets are €15/13 which means you’re basically getting two shows for the price of one!

And if none of that tickles your fancy, there’s also a strand called We Are Dancing which includes 27 Club drinks in Project Bar on Friday night and Yes Yes Yes at Mother on Saturday.

So go – enjoy some Live Art! You might find it odd or irritating or inspiring but it’s worth giving it a go – it’s not scary.

Friday Five: Ways to get cheaper theatre tickets

cheapTicketsOne of the reason I love books and reading (see last post) is because you can do it for free. All you need is a library card and away you go! (Note to authors and publishers: don’t panic, I have a healthy book-buying addiction as well as a library card.) I’m going through a bit of cash-flow crisis at the moment (I’m broke) so I have seen very little theatre lately, which is probably another reason why I’m writing about books. Theatre are be an expensive habit but are a few ways to save some money on your theatre tickets.

  1. Early Bird Offers. Theatres love early bookings because it lets them know the theatre won’t be empty, and they can relax a little bit. They want you to book early so they offer discounts. Project Arts Centre offer 25% off the ticket prices for most shows, if you book two or three weeks in advance. At the moment, the Dublin Dance Festival are offering early bird discounts for all their shows until March 29th. They are also doing Dance Deals where you get money off if you book 3 or more shows at the same time.
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  3. Previews and matinees are often a bit cheaper than other shows in the run. Sometimes different days can be cheaper than others. Tickets for Romeo and Juliet at the Gate are €20 for previews, €25 for a Monday night mid-way through the run and €35 on a Friday night. It’s worth being flexible about when you go to see a show.
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  5. Be a friend. A lot of friend’s schemes are prohibitively expensive but the Abbey have some reasonably priced ones. The best of the bunch is the Cameo Club which is open to under 26s and students of all ages. It’s €10 a year and you get half price previews and €10 standby tickets. If you don’t meet the criteria for that, Chorus membership is €25 and gives you half price preview tickets and priority booking.
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  7. Offers on Facebook and Twitter. If you can’t afford a friends subscription, friend your favourite theatres, festivals and production companies on Facebook or follow them on Twitter instead. This is where they will often post about special offers or run competitions for free tickets. For The Walworth Farce, Landmark were offering €20 tickets for unemployed theatre go-ers, purchased on the day and for Rough Magic’s Everything Between Us, they had a limited number of €10 tickets for under 30s. If social media is not your thing, consider signing up to their mailing list.
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  9. Volunteering for festivals is a way to get to see shows for free. Most festivals offer free tickets in exchange for the shifts you work and sometimes you will get into the shows you’re working on. There are loads of good reasons to volunteer but  the free tickets are definitely up there.  The Dublin Dance Festival are currently looking for volunteers. Application close on Friday, 17th April.

Friday Five: Spring is in the Air

SpringI don’t know about you but I am ready for winter to be over. I’ve had enough of the cold weather and the dark evenings. Recently there have been some small hints that maybe spring is on it’s way. There’s that stretch in the evenings and the colourful crocuses poking up out of the grass. So here are five things that are all about looking forward to spring and summer.

  1. Be a tourist in your own town. Now is a good time to do this before everywhere gets too crowded with real tourists. Visit museums and art galleries and pretend to be on holiday. If the weather is being cooperative, get outside and wander around Glasnevin Cemetary or the Botanic Gardens. Or if you’re free during the week, take advantage of the free Wednesdays at the OPW heritage sites. On the first Wednesday of every month, there is free admission to all their sites. In Dublin this includes the state apartments at Dublin Castle, Kilmainham jail and the Casino at Marino. Here is the full list of sites.
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  3. While we’re on the subject of museums, and I know I’ve already mentioned it once or twice here before, but I finally got down to Collins Barracks to see PALS last week and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is a beautiful and heart-breaking show. It focuses on one group of men, the 7th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who had played rugby together before heading out to the doomed military operation in Gallipoli. Their stories are told with all the emotion and immersion that I’ve come to expect from an ANU show. They manage to deliver small, gentle moments and big, swooping world-changing ones, and both can be equally heart-breaking. It’s a gorgeous show, go see it.
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  5. Beer gardens are another joy of summer and while the weather might not be suitable just yet, that’s not stopping Project Arts Centre from celebrating their newly done-up beer garden on Friday, March 6th from 6pm. They are promising some super value drinks promotions, tasty pizzas and Siobhan Kane on the decks. And if you’re still there at 8pm, you can head in to see Carmel Winter’s new play Witness.
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  7. Summer is a good time to get together with friends. Get the Boat to Vote is an initiative to encourage recent emigrants to come home for the Marriage Referendum on May 22nd by making it a bit of a occasion! Tell your friends living aboard, tell them to sign up, come home and then plan a party for all those returning emigrants.
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  9. And one last shout-out to the Collaborations festival which is now in it’s final week. There are still lots of great shows to see and there is a great buzz around Smock Alley with so much on. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of it and I’m hoping to see some shows next week, once we’ve done our final show of In Protest Of… tonight.

Live Collision 2014

LiveCollision Live Collision, the international live art festival, is on in Dublin until Saturday and there’s lots of fantastic things happening over the next few days.

Things like Dial Ulrike and Eamon Compliant by Blast Theory. My first job after university was with Blast Theory, working as a intern on Day of the Figurines in the Royal Festival Hall in London. It was a game played by text message and myself and the other game operators looked after the model town and keep it up-to-date, showing where everyone was and what was happening. It ran for 24 days – each day was an hour in the life of the game. It was an interesting first job, and they were lovely people to work with.

Dial Ulrike and Eamon Compliant sounds very different to Day of the Figurines. (And to be fair, generally all of Blast Theory’s work is very different to what has gone before.) This time “the game” takes place down the line of your mobile phone and sounds like a live action “Choose Your Own Adventure”. It’s free and running until April 27th.

There’s an interesting double bill tonight – Veronica Dyas’ This Is My Body and When We Were Birds by Anna Furse. The first piece seems to be very much about Dublin and the state the city and country is in right now, while the second is more about our place in the wider world. Tickets for both are €12/15.

I also really like the sound of Inspiration Exchange, presented by Third Angel and happening in the foyer of Project Arts Centre tomorrow (Friday, April 25) at 3-6pm and the Study Room Boxes which you can borrow from The Library Project in Temple Bar. There’s also the closing night Live Art Party which will include a summation from the Inspiration Exchange, along with other performances. All of these events are free, as is a new durational performance piece by Amanda Coogan I’ll sing you a song from around the town which is on in Project Cube on Saturday, 4-8pm.

If none of these tickle your fancy, have a look at the other performances on the Live Collision site or book through Project Arts Centre. I’d love to hear what you saw and what you thought of it!

Dublin Dance Festival 2013

After the glorious weather at the weekend, if finally feels like summer’s on its way and with it all the summer festivals. Phizz Fest and the Drogheda Arts Fesitval were on this weekend and next up is the Dublin Dance Festival, from May 14- 26. I don’t go to that many dance shows and I’m not sure I’ve even been to the Dublin Dance Festival before, but I have seen and enjoyed a couple recently (I saw IMDT’s Body Duet at IETM and Cois Ceim’s Touch Me in Galway last year) and I’m also looking forward to Fabulous Beast’s double bill at this year’s Galway Arts Festival.

Egg Charade by Aoife McAtamney & Nina Vallon Image credit: (c) Joan Corres Benito
Egg Charade by Aoife McAtamney & Nina Vallon
Image credit: (c) Joan Corres Benito
I also think the Dance Festival has a particularly strong programme this year and it’s worth a look! (Probably the programme was always excellent, it’s just my taste that has changed!) I am particularly taken by Egg Charade, which includes the following warning: Contains nudity (and bowling).

But there’s a wide variety of shows to chose from. Tickets are mostly around the €20 but some of the shorter shows are €12-15. This includes the shows in the Family Season strand, which all look beautiful and includes Spill – A Playground of Dance, which is free!

There’s also the Dance Deal where if you book 3 or 4 different dance deal shows you get 15% off full price tickets. If you book five or more shows, you get 20% off full price tickets.

There are also dance workshops with dancers performing in the festival. Some of them are limited to dancers or dance students but there are some open classes too.

All in all, a great looking festival!

First Fortnight 2013

First Fortnight
First Fortnight
First Fortnight is an arts festival that also aims to improve mental heath awareness and help remove the stigma associated with mental health issues in this country. It happens in the first weeks of January, a very suitable time of year when we’re all feeling a little bit under the weather mentally. 2013 will be the fourth year of the festival, which is run entirely by volunteers, and they have a very exciting programme prepared.

Unsurprisingly my top two picks from the programme are theatre but they also have a selection of films, including free shorts in Filmbase at lunchtime, Le Galaxie performing at the Button Factory, a panel discussion in Earlsfort Terrance (also free), The Therapy Sessions which are music and spoken word nights in The Workman’s Club and visual arts in Filmbase. There really is something for everyone and all of it either at a very affordable price or free!

However, the First Fortnight show that you really need to see is Fishamble’s production of Silent. This is Pat Kinevane’s one-man show that has been touring the country to critical acclaim for the last couple of years. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are in for a treat and if you have seen it, I wouldn’t be surprised if you feel it requires a second viewing or have a couple of people that you want to bring along this time around. That’s my plan and I’m sure that there a more than a few people out there who feel the same. It’s on for three nights in Smock Alley (in the Main Theatre, a space which I think will suit the show very well) so book your tickets soon. Get them as a gift for someone – despite being about homelessness, it’s actually a funny, uplifting show and Pat Kinevane’s performance is just wonderful! Go! Bring a friend, maybe someone along who doesn’t think like theatre, or someone who wants to see more plays in the new year.

First Fortnight also offers another chance to see Solpadeine is my Boyfriend in the New Theatre. I missed this when it was on in the Fringe earlier this year, though I did enjoy many of the Solpadeine mints that were part of it’s promotional campaign. I listened to it as a RTE radio play a little while ago and really loved the language and the way the story unfolded. It’s a wonderful fit with that First Fortnight are trying to do. I’ve heard great things from people who did manage to see the live show so I’m looking forward to it. It’s on early in the year – 2-5 January, so you’ll need to be on your toes to catch it!

Book a few shows for First Fortnight – it means you’ll have something to look forward to in the bleak first couple of weeks in January. And having things to look forward to is good for your mental health!

Theatre on the cheap

As my graduation at the end of November is swiftly approaching, I have to accept that I am no longer a penniless student. I’ve decided to “rebrand” myself as a struggling artist instead. Of course, they are both just nicer ways of saying I’m perpetually broke! As a lot of people are in the same boat at the moment, so here’s some cheap theatre happening in Dublin this week.

  1. A Bucket Full of Fire starts a two week run in Smock Alley this week and tickets for the preview tonight (Monday 12 November) are only €10. It’s a new Irish play from Kilkenny company Sheer Tantrum and is on until November 24.
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  3. TEXT | messages is back at the Project this week, (on Thursday, Friday and Saturday). I missed this Shakespeare experiment last year, so I’m looking forward to it this time around. Nine performances based on 160 lines of Shakespeare’s text will be performed over three nights. Each piece will be around 20 minutes long, each show includes three different pieces and tickets are €5 for each night.
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  5. Taking Back Our Voices is a “theatrical exploration of prostitution and trafficking in Ireland”. It is based on conversations between the performers and women who have first-hand experience of prostitution and trafficking and is produced in collaboration with Ruhama. I imagine it will be a fairly harrowing 40 minutes of theatre, but still very much worth seeing. It’s on in the Abbey on Thursday and Friday this week at 3pm. Tickets are free but advance booking is required.
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  7. And finally for theatre that you don’t even have to leave the house for – Solpadine is my Boyfriend is available as a radio play on the RTE website. Written and performed by Stefanie Preissner, this sold out at the Dublin Fringe and is a sad, beautifully-told story about making changes and growing up.

Free talks and classes

Fingal County Council are running free talks and classes all around Fingal as part of Writing 3.0 – Fingal’s Annual Writer’s Festival. There’s talks from Declan Burke and Thisispopbaby, as well as classes in screen-writing, song writing and rap! The full list of programmes is here and you can book your place here.

Did you see The Family?

Tonight is the first What Did You See? meeting at Project and they will be discussing The Family with THEATREclub. If you got a chance to see The Family, I definitely recommend going along this evening. We talked about the show in a couple of classes at college and it’s fascinating to hear what other people saw on stage. It’s often very different depending on who you talk to!

WHAT DID YOU SEE?, 2 February at 5.45PM, Project Arts Centre.