DTF 2014 and other festivals

DTF2014

I really enjoyed this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival. I saw great Irish and international shows over the two and a bit weeks. Here is a handful of my favourite things.

1. A German Hamlet that reminded me of Rik Mayall. Schaubühne’s Hamlet was modern and contemporary and very, very German. It looked amazing with a wet, mucky set and a giant curtain of chains that doubled up as a projection screen. This Hamlet was allowed be funny and silly, particularly when he addressed the audience directly but within the play’s text as well. The show created a very clear world for these characters and the costumes worked supplement that and to help the six actors portray the twenty plus characters in the play! The last Hamlet I saw was also in the Dublin Theatre Festival – the Wooster Group’s Hamlet in 2012. (I also saw Playing the Dane in the festival in 2010. It’s a popular play!) Now I’m ready to take a break from this tragic hero for a while!

2. So many female stories. The festival were awash with magnificent female performers. From the incredible talents of Marie Mullen, Catherine Walsh and Aisling O’Sullivan in Druid’s production of Bailegangaire at the Gaiety, to Aoife Dunffin’s spell-binding performance in A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, to the wonderful cast of Vardo to the grumpiest Masha I’ve ever seen in Pan Pan’s The Seagull and Other Birds. Lots of different women, telling lots of different stories.

3. The internationality of it. In the O’Reilly Theatre I saw an Australian show about an Indian elephant god who travels to Germany to rescue the Swastika from the Nazi’s. Ganesh Versus The Third Reich was a wonderful show crammed full of ethical and dramatic questions, as well as fantastic performances. I feel lucky to have seen a show that was made on the other side of the world. Another show in the Australian Season, Jack Charles V The Crown also looked at persecution but was much more about Australian life.

4. Two wonderful days with ANU talking and thinking about the Monto Cycle. As well as being lucky enough to get a ticket for Vardo, I also attended the two-day conference NOW-THEN-NOW, presented by ANU Productions and Create. It was a fascinating two days hearing about the five-year project, and it managed a good balance between academic views on the work and the cast and audience’s experiences from inside the work. We also had the chance to experience a condensed version of all four pieces (World’s Ends Lane, Laundry, Boys of Foley Street and Vardo) on the streets around the Lab. It was a very enjoyable couple of days.

5. Talking theatre with people, at the conference, before shows and in the bar afterwards. I volunteered with the festival again this year. I think it’s my third or fourth year doing it and I keep coming back because I really enjoy it. It’s a great way to see lots of shows in the festival and you also meet people who are really enthusiastic about theatre and I love talking theatre with people.

That’s a condensed version of my festival. If I included everything I saw and loved, this post would be very long and I want to write a little bit of two festivals starting today. Just in case you were feeling festival withdrawal!

Prototype is a festival of play and interaction and it’s happening in Project Arts Centre today and tomorrow. It’s run by the same people who brought you Journey to the End of the Night and it features talks and workshops as well as lots of games. Tickets for the Playground and access to all the games are €10 for one night and €15 for both nights, and there are different games available on each night. You can book tickets and get more information on Project’s website.

Also starting today is the spoken word festival Lingo. It’s happening Friday to Sunday in Smock Alley Theatre,The Workman’s Club and The Liquor Rooms.

And for something completely different – the Dublin Cocktail Festival is also on at the moment and finished tomorrow.

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Interview with Hilary O’Shaughnessy

HilaryOShaughnessyLast week I spoke to Hilary O’Shaughnessy, the artist behind Make and Do, who are bringing The Journey to the End of the Night to Dublin. Hilary herself has played the street game in San Francisco, where it began and is played every year. She has also played other city-wide street games such as 2.8 Hours Later, a zombie street game, which she played in Bristol. Hilary says that street games are a great way to experience a city and get to know the people who live there. Games are all about connecting with other people. You are surrounded by people with the same goal as you and very quickly find yourself talking to strangers and getting to know people.

With Journey, these connections between strangers start before the game begins. The creators of the game (Ian Kizu-Blair, Sean Mahan and Sam Lavigne) have released it under a Creative Commons/Non-Commercial license so anyone can organise a game, but not for profit. This means the game is run entirely by volunteers – dedicated enthusiasts who get involved because they think it’ll be fun. Hilary is currently assembling the Dublin team.

She is also one of these enthusiasts but says that people sometimes have difficulty understanding what street games are. She compares it to trying to explain a bicycle to someone who has never seen a bicycle before. One of the reasons she is bringing Journey to Dublin is to introduce the city to street games. Her hope is that once people get what it is, they will begin to create and run their own street games. She feels that there is scope for a lot of people with different backgrounds to enjoy and create street games.

Hilary’s own background is in theatre. She was Joint Artistic Director of Playgroup, the theatre company that produced the award-winning Berlin Love Tour, and is currently Artist in Residence (with Make and Do) at Project Arts Centre. She recently spoke at the IndieCade Conference in New York about Outsider Games – games by people who have no formal training in designing games, the valuable things this lack of training can add to the creation of games and how it can increase the pool of potential players. Hilary also has an MA in Interactive Media from UL, which she did in part to learn about ways to add technology to games. She is interested in tech as a way to extend the experience of the game and add an extra layer, but says that’s important not to forget the people are.

Journey, which will be part of the Darklight Festival, will have a digital storytelling strand to the game, where people can share photos, tweets and vines. (I won’t be in Dublin for the game and I’m glad I’ll be able to watch it unfold online on the night.)

Hilary’s next goal is to bring a play festival to Dublin, to further stimulate the game making and playing community in the city. She says that it won’t be aimed at children because they don’t need help or encouragement to play – they do it everyday. It’s for the adults who have forgotten this vital skill. There are festivals already running in many European cities such as Ig Fest in Bristol and w00t in Copenhagen. Later this year, Hilary will be presenting her own game CHARGE! at A maze in Berlin. Hopefully Dublin will embrace street games with the same enthusiasm as these cities and we will see lots more games happening here.

Related post: The Journey to the End of the Night

Journey to the End of the Night

On the 26th April, Journey to the End of the Night will take place in Dublin. This is a free street game played at night, and run entirely by volunteers.

Journey to the End of the Night -Dublin
Journey to the End of the Night -Dublin

It’s basically a giant game of tag, but with extra rules thrown in to make it possible to win and lose. All the players start from the same place, then they have to visit six check-points spread out over the city. But while they’re doing that, they are also being hunted down by the chasers. If a player is caught, they switch sides and become a chaser. The winners are those who make it to all the check-points without being caught.

Journey to the End of the Night was created in 2006 and since then it has been played in over 30 cities all around Europe and North America. Thousands of people have taken part, so there must be something in it!

It will be fun and exciting and unlike anything you’ve done before. The creators have described the experience as cinematic – like being the star of your own action movie. I suspect it’s very good for stress – a wonderful opportunity to ditch all your real life worries for a night and throw yourself into the game. Though maybe game isn’t the right word – one of the survival tips is “Bring a friend or two. Preferably ones you can outrun.”

The Dublin event is run by Make and Do who set up the prosocialrulebreakingclub a couple of years ago, run theatre games at Electric Picnic and are currently Artists in Residence at Project Arts Centre.

They are currently looking for volunteers to help make it all happen. The Volunteer sign-up form is here.

If you’re interested, you can learn more about the Dublin game, or find out more about Journey to the End of the Night in general or follow Make and Do on Twitter.

Related post: Interview with Hilary O’Shaughnessy