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.

What Did You See?

Project Arts Centre are starting a monthly Discussion Group on Performance Art called What Did You See? I made it along to a couple of the Performance Reading Groups last year and always found them interesting and informative. I love hearing other people’s ideas about art and theatre.

What Did You See? A Public Discussion Forum for Performing Arts is born out of the Performance Reading Group convened by Willie White and Noelia Ruiz during 2010-2011 in Project Arts Centre.

The aim of What Did You See? is to engage audiences and practitioners in discussion by addressing our experiences of theatrical performances we’ve seen live or in our series of screenings of key international practitioners. Those experiences are unique for each individual –everybody sees something different- and that will be the focus of our discussions.

Taking place once a month, every trimester there will consist of a conversation with practitioners showing their work at Project Arts Centre, a screening & discussion of international work, and a session dedicated to examine a relevant topic related to the performing arts.

THEATREclub presents The Family
THEATREclub presents The Family

The first discussion on Thursday, 2 February is with THEATREclub. Their new play The Family starts in Project this Friday. If you book your tickets before the end of today (January 10) you can get 25% and there’s also the Project Real Deal where tickets are 2 for 1 on January 18.

I think the performance and the discussion will both be worth going to.

Best of 2011

This list was going to be a top ten but there were too many performances that tied for 10th place that I couldn’t choose one. I decided to leave it at nine because these all had a little something extra that meant they stayed with me long after I left the theatre (or other site-specific location!)

Here are nine of my favourite theatre experiences this year:

  1. Way back at the beginning of 2011, I was lucky enough to see the work in progress preview of Thisispopbaby‘s Alice in Funderland. It was a musical with vivid characters, great songs and loads of jokes. I loved it. I saw it with a friend who, since then has asked me at least 23 times since then when the full production will take place. When can we go see it again? I was just as eager because there are so many people I want to see this wonderful show. I’m delighted that it has a long run at the Abbey later this year and I will be able to drag lots of people along to enjoy it!
  2. Another show that moved from the Project to the Abbey was The Company‘s As you are now so once were we which was part of the 2010 Fringe Festival and was in the Peacock earlier this year. It’s a bit of a cheat to have it in this year’s favourites but I was delighted to see it again. It was such a joyous piece of theatre and I’m glad it got more than just a week at the Fringe. It toured to LA in June as part of Imagine Ireland and the run even included a performance on Bloomsday!
  3. I’ve mentioned I Am a Homebird (It’s Very Hard) a few times on this blog this year. (The main review is here.) I first saw it in February as part of The Theatre Machine Turns You On, Volume II and then went back to see the full, finished piece later in the year. It was a moving piece of theatre that I loved so much that I wrote a short piece about it for one of my college courses.
  4. Mimic was a one-man show that completely absorbed you in it’s dystopian world. It was a little bit like Forced Entertainment’s Void Story, but was also completely different with music and impressions and little bits of songs.
  5. Because I am likely to get excited about new writing than old, there are very few things on my list by dead playwrights but Pygmalion at the Abbey was excellent. It was performed at the Abbey for the first time this year and it was a lavish production with a flawless cast. Everybody on stage was fantastic, the set was cunning and clever, as well as being beautiful to look at and all these elements worked together to tell a great story. I really enjoyed it.
  6. I saw another play by a dead playwright the same week I saw Pygmalion: Loose canon’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream? The two were very different. Where the Abbey had a cast of sixteen all playing their own part in lavish costumes, on a wonderfully intricate and detailed set, Loose Canon has a cast of five, playing 15 characters on a bare white stage. Both had a very strong cast and both were very enjoyable. Loose Canon also had a lovely dead-pan Puck!
  7. End of the Road was a tour de force of wonderful ideas performed by a fantastically strong cast. I was astounded by the way it made interactive performance look easy.
  8. End of the Road was a Fishamble production, directed by Louise Lowe who was also in charge of a piece of theatre that I’ve already seen on many end of year lists – the heart-breakingly beautiful Laundry. I was nervous about going to see this production; partly because of the subject matter; partly because of the one-on-one nature of the piece and mostly because I’m a coward. I’m so glad I did see it though because it felt important to be a witness a this bleak chapter of Irish history. It was also a wonderful piece of theatre, moving and sad and so immersive that it took a little while to shake it off afterwards. I talked about it with my classmates afterwards; it was a piece of theatre that you wanted to talk about. It’s a wonderful example of the power and the ability of theatre to change things.
  9. I only managed to see the last hour and a half of THEATREclub’s epic six hour omnibus episode of Twenty Ten and I wish I’d seen more. I did see the first hour the previous Saturday but I suspect it gave a much better sense of the crazy ups and downs of 2010 when seen all in one go. It was an ambitious project well executed.

Absolut Fringe 2011: Twenty Ten

Twenty Ten
Twenty Ten by THEATREclub

THEATREclub have been talking about this show for a long time, they’ve been talking about it on Facebook and Twitter and blogging from the rehearsals. And why not – it’s been a long time in the making. If you don’t know the concept behind the show, let me explain. In 2010, THEATREclub sent out an e-mail everyday asking participants ‘What did you learn today?’ and they collected all the responses and made a piece of theatre from them. That piece of theatre is being performed in two month chunks all this week with a six-hour omnibus edition on Saturday.

I was impressed by the respect they showed their source material. This wasn’t a show based on the messages they received, they didn’t just use them as a jumping off point to create a performance; the messages formed the text of the piece and the structure used them chronologically. I thought this showed it a great respect to the people who had donated their words and thoughts and feelings.

I was there on Saturday for Episode 1 – January-February so there was lots of talk about the snow and a little bit about new beginnings. The messages reflected the age of the participants – there was a lot of things learnt about drinking and the consequences of drinking too much. Falling in and out of love also featured heavily. There were also a few facts thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately I can’t share any of them with you because I can’t remember any of them. Even straight after the show, I couldn’t remember a single amusing fact to tell my sister. This is a bit of a problem – you are bombarded with information over the hour and I suspect everyone walks out of the show remembering a different bit or a different thread because there were a few strands running through the show. Money came up a number of times and as this was a year when Ireland officially declared bankruptcy, the show make use of this by throwing coins around whenever money was mentioned.

A lot of the charm of the show is down to the strong performances from the six actors (Shane Byrne, Natalie Radmall-Quirke, Conor Madden, Lauren Larkin, Louise Lewis and Barry O’Connor) and their ability to give meaning to the disjointed text. The tight structure and strong performances also resulted in some unexpectedly sweet moments. It succeeds in giving the audience a glimpse into the minds of some of the people living in Ireland in 2010. The girl I bought my ticket from suggested that it might be interesting to see these day to day reflections again in 10 years time. Personally, I would love to see more of it and I think the six-hour epic on Saturday would be fascinating. If anyone wants to sell a time-share on a ticket, let me know! (It makes sense! Six hours is a lot of time to give to one show when there is so much going on!)

I definitely recommend. Tomorrow’s show covers September-October and November-December will be on Friday. Go see it!

Reviews coming soon for Do You Read Me? Talking Shop Ensemble’s meditation on mediums.

First Look: Absolut Fringe

The launch of this year’s Absolut Fringe Festival programme took place on Wednesday evening in the brand new Festival Club venue – Top of the Town on Parnell Square East (opposite the Gate Theatre and up a bit). After a few short speeches and a bit of free vodka, we got out hands on the sleek black programme! As usual, there is a whole heap of wonderful stuff there and it’s all on the website as well. I like that they have kept the same web design as last year – I like the ‘Like This / See These’ suggestions on the right hand side and the categories section is really helpful. The whole thing is organised in a useful, helpful way and I like that.

And if anyone is still unsure where to start with this massive programme, I’ve picked 10 things that I would like to see. I’m not saying that these are the best things in the festival, this is just my top ten at this moment in time!

1. Man of Valour because I love Corn Exchange and this got some great reviews at the Cork Midsummer festival last month.

2. Twenty Ten for it’s scope and ambition. THEATREclub will put all of 2010 on stage, two months a night for 6 nights and then perform the whole year again in a 6 hour performance on Saturday morning.

3. Do You Read Me? by Talking Shop Ensemble and Shaun Dunne. I loved their last show I Am a Homebird (It’s very hard) and as a life-long sceptic, I’m interested in this show about mediums and clarvoyents.

4. Where Do I Start? I saw a half-hour verison of this at The Theatre Machine Turns You On and really liked it. I’m interested to see how it works as an extended show and as it says in the programme, Nyree is “one fifth of multi ABSOLUT Fringe award winners The Company” which is reason enough to see this show!

5. The Year of Magical Wanking. I love thisispopbaby and this got rave reviews at Queer Notions late last year. I think it’s another brave, ambitious show and has the wonderful warning Contains explicit adult themes and language. I love a show with language!

6. Autobiographer by Melanie Wilson because I saw Iris Brunette in 2009 and loved it. It was a weird and wonderful show that has stayed with me for two years.

7. In My Bed because I like one-woman shows and shows in weird places. This one takes place in a car park.

8. Whenever I Get Blown Up I Think of You because that’s a great title. And it’s another one-woman show. There’s quite a few of those in this year’s Fringe!

9. Love Songs for Losers because it’s on in The Stag’s Head which seems like the perfect venue for a show set in a grimy karaoke bar. And they were giving out lollipops at the launch!

10. Pop Ceili. I caught the last two songs by these guys last year and they were brilliant! I want to see more of them this year.

That’s my 10 for the moment. Booking is already open on the website and if you book this week with the Early Bird code you can get 10% off! And then you have something to look forward to this September.

My_Project competition

One day last February I was walking through Temple Bar on my way to Project Arts Centre for The Theatre Machine Turns You On, Volume 2. There was loads of great stuff on in the Project that week but I couldn’t afford to see everything. I was thinking about how great it would be if I could find a way to get free theatre tickets; if I could make my blog so famous that people would ply me with free stuff in the hope that I would write about them. I was also thinking about the Fringe Award judges – you see them during the festival with giant piles of tickets, going to three or fours a night. I’m sure it’s a stressful job, and going to see things because you have to might take some of the joy out of it, but I’ve always been a little bit envious of all those tickets!

Then, about a week later the Project Arts Centre announced their My_Project competition where one lucky winner would get tickets for all the shows in the Project and would write about them for the Project website. Someone has been listening in to my thoughts! It was just like The Secret, all I had to do was think about it and it became real! I entered the competition but sadly didn’t win. So maybe you shouldn’t base your life on The Secret after all.

However – the My_Project blogger changes every three months. They started taking entries again in June, I entered and this time – I made it to the short list!

(I wrote about Loose Canon’s Midsummer Night’s Dream? and finished the review on the morning of June 22nd when I should have been packing for Glastonbury. As a result I forgot to bring my deodorant, my camera and my alcohol with me to the festival!)

I’ve made it the short list but now I need your vote to win!

You can see the three finalists and cast your vote here.

Things I’m doing this week

This week I am mostly:

1. Attempting to get the supporting documents for my MA application organised so I can (finally) send them off to Galway. This includes writing a personal statement. Why is it so hard to write 600 words about myself? I should have sent all this stuff off last week but I was waiting for college transcripts from the UK and avoiding my personal statement.

2. Working on this year’s V-Day production of The Vagina Monologues! This should be Number 1 because it’s much more exciting! I am currently casting the show which will be on in The Sugar Club on April 13th. We will be raising money for Ruhama and V-Day and you can expect to hear lots more about that between now and then! If you’d like to get involved, leave a comment or email VDayDublin @ gmail.com. You can also like our Facebook page.

3. Spending lots of time in Project and seeing lots of plays! The Theatre Machine Turns You On, Vol 2 starts tonight! (Project Real Deal – Four plays for €22!) I’m seeing two plays tonight and two or three more at the weekend. I’m hoping to go and see Connected before it finishes this weekend as well.

4. Looking forward to tomorrow’s text class with ATI. First class was last week and I really enjoyed it. It’s made me think a lot about monologues and I’ll try and write down some of those thought here soon!

But for now, it’s back to the dreaded personal statement!