What to book now for Dublin Theatre Festival 2016

Tickets for this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival go on sale for the general public this morning at 10am and I am making plans – what to see, when to see it, what to book now and what to book later. My early booking is financially strategic; if I don’t book my Festival shows now, I’ll spend all my money at the Fringe and by October I’ll be too broke to see anything.

I really like the Dublin Theatre Festival and I want to see as much as I can. It’s a great opportunity to experience theatre from other parts of the world, as well as seeing big shows from Irish companies. It’s also a chance to see a crazy amount of theatre in a short space of time. Following so quickly after Fringe, this can be a bit head-melting. But in a good way.

Here are some of my early booking picks:

These rooms by Anu & Cois Ceim
This one I’ll definitely be grabbing a ticket for. It’s on in a couple of houses in Dorset Street and capacity is limited. Some shows has already sold out, and I’d be surprised if the entire run isn’t fully booked before the Theatre Festival opens on September 29th. It’s a collaboration between Anu Productions and Cois Ceim and focuses on the experiences of the civilians who were caught up in the 1916 Rising.

Guerrilla by El Conde de Torrefiel
I have my eye on this one because I spend a lot of time in Spain but I haven’t actually seen any Spanish theatre, and this sounds a bit odd and interesting. A lot of the international shows have very short runs at the festival – this one is only on for three performances.

The Seagull by Corn Exchange
This is on in the Gaiety so tickets are unlikely to be gone too soon. I really like The Seagull. I’ve seen it a few times in various productions and I read a couple of different translations for an essay in college. It’s very funny and also has lots of fierce, ballsy female characters in it. Though things don’t generally end well for them and their existence tends to revolve around the men, they are still great characters in their own right. I’m also a big fan of Corn Exchange who make visually exciting theatre. I’m also a big fan of the two (female) cast members announced already – Derbhle Crotty and Genevieve Hulme-Beaman – so I think it will be a hot ticket this year. Tickets for the Gaiety are not cheap, but this play by this company – I think it will be worth it.

Alien Documentary by Una McKevitt
I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about this show for the last couple of years so I’ve very excited to see the finished product. It’s on in The Cube in Project for nearly two weeks. Long run but a small venue and I think it will be popular.

Crisis Meeting by Kriðpleir and LÓKAL Performing Arts
This is a show from an Icelandic theatre company about writing an application for arts funding. I’m curious to see if you can make an engaging show about arts admin and if the company do manage to oscillate “anarchy, sitcom and Beckettian gravity” as their blurb claims. If you don’t fancy the risk on that one, there are a couple of other Northern European shows in the programme – you might prefer the “epic and vaudevillesque” style of Wishful Beginnings by VERK Produksjoner from Norway or the “switch between dance and  scattered questioning” is This is Not a Love Story by Swede Gunilla Heilborn.

It’s definitely worth booking something a little bit outside your comfort zone. It’s what festival’s are for!


I have mixed feelings about booking a ticket for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Bord Gais. Again, it’s a play that I like and it looks like a fun, playful production but I’m not a fan of seeing theatre in the grand scale of the Bord Gais. I’ve been spoilt by all our wonderful intimate theatre spaces in Dublin.

I’m also on the fence about It’s Not Over, THEATREclub’s vision of The Plough and The Stars by Sean O’Casey. Do I want to see another production of the The Plough? Can I sit through a four and a half hour production of The Plough? I’m not sure.

I’m willing to be persuaded about both of these, and probably most of the other festival offerings. Is there anything else I should have on my early bird booking list? What’s on your list?

HISTORY: Interview with Louise White


HISTORY, the final part of THEATREclub’s trilogy of work about the social history of Ireland, opens in Project Arts Centre tonight. This final piece is about St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, while also examining the history of Ireland over the last 100 years. St. Michael’s Estate is a place with a particularly troubled past. It housed imprisoned 1916 revolutionaries after the Easter Rising and was the site of Ireland’s first social housing in the 1960s. More recently, regeneration has been promised four times in the last 15 years but the former residents of the estate are still waiting. Louise White, HISTORY’s Associate Director says the show is about “acknowledging the things that happened there, some of which are very dark and that poorly reflect The State; but it’s also about showing that there were good people there too and that people are strong, resilient and hopeful and they persevere.”

This ultimately hopeful project that been a long time in the making. It was commissioned by Dublin City Public Art Programme three years ago. Louise White is a recent addition to the HISTORY team. She joined the project in October. Louise is a performer, director and theatre maker. This year she won the Spirit of the Fringe award with Way Back Home, a piece that combined live storytelling, games and dance with beautiful, evocative paintings by visual artist Clare Henderson. She is currently developing a piece of work called Mother You, a big site-specific work for a disused commercial building in Dublin’s city centre. Louise says it is “about the cycle of life and the cyclical nature of the function of buildings. It’s about me wanting to nurture and do something spectacular and positive in a totemic representation of the failures of recent years.”

While her work is very different stylistically to THEATREclub’s, the ideas at the heart of their work are similar. Louise discovered this earlier this year, when she took part in MAKE, a theatre residency programme that is jointly run by Cork Midsummer Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, Project Arts Centre and Theatre Forum. THEATREclub’s Grace Dyas also participated in the programme and the two got on very well together. Louise says “We had lots of conversations about life and art during that time and were mutually supportive of each other’s process.” Talking about how she became attached to the project, Louise says that “I thought the project was exceptional and important from the way she spoke about it and I felt privileged to be approached.”

Louise describes THEATREclub as “ever growing and incredibly ambitious”. HISTORY is a huge project, both artistically and logistically. Not only does it deal with big stories and themes, there is also a large number of funding bodies involved. The development process includes weekly public art meetings to keep everybody informed. This is a large scale, ambitious project that has been three years in the making. Louise says that THEATREclub have “a great integrity in their work” and their ambition is hopeful and aspirational. According to Louise, they are “Aspirational for those they work with; for the people of St. Michael’s Estate, for themselves and for Ireland. It’s a mad and brilliant energy to be around.”

The cast of HISTORY have all worked with THEATREclub before. Lauren Larkin plays Mother Ireland, Louise Lewis plays the statue of the Virgin Mary and they are joined by Shane Byrne, Gerard Kelly and Barry O’Connor. The tag-line for this show – Will you walk with us? – suggests that the audience are required to do a little bit more that sit quietly in the dark. There’s a full scale trad session each night, as well as a public conversation. THEATREclub want the audience to be involved in this history of Ireland so that they can take responsibility for what happens next.

HISTORY runs from December 18 – 22 at 7.30pm, in the Space Upstairs in Project Arts Centre. Tickets are available here and are only €10 for tonight’s show (December 18). Tickets for the rest of the week are €16/12.

Theatre Machine Turns You On: Vol 3

The Theatre Machine Turns You On: Vol 3
The Theatre Machine Turns You On: Vol 3

The Theatre Machine Turns You On: Vol 3 is THEATREclub’s festival currently happening at Project Arts Centre. It started last week and is sadly closing this weekend but there is still plenty to see before it ends in a revolutionary bang on Saturday night.

There are four shows on Friday night and three on Saturday, plus the big closing night party. The shows are under different categories – Demotapes are short works-in-progress, New Releases are brand new pieces, LPs are longer pieces and EPs involve established artists trying something different.

Here’s the schedule for the next couple of days:

  Friday Saturday
Demo – 6pm, €6 Postscript Looking For Work
New Release – 7pm, €10 Lippy Lippy
LP – 8.30pm, €12 Madonna Madonna
EP – 10pm, €10 The Churching of Happy Cullen Closing night party


There’s also a couple of other things happening around the festival such as Occupy Project Arts Centre where you can go and visit Anna in her nest under the stairs.

And on Saturday night We, the People will be happening at the entrance to Meeting House Square, just up from Project where Speaker’s Corner will be held and curated by Veronica Dyas. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for the list of Speakers.

There’s also the “revolutionary listening party” on Saturday night, which will include new writing from the amazing campaigner Orla Tinsey, a performative response to the festival from THEATREclubs’ Grace Dyas and Shane Byrne and music from Lisa O’Neil and others. And all that for only €12! Book your ticket here.

¡Viva la Revolución!

Absolut Fringe – part 2.

Images for The Year of Magical Wanking, Where Do I Start?, Eternal Rising of the Sun, In My Bed.
Weekend Viewing: (clockwise from top left) The Year of Magical Wanking, Where Do I Start?, Eternal Rising of the Sun, In My Bed.

I am heading back to the Dublin this evening to get my final dose of the Fringe for this year. I have tickets for The Year of Magical Wanking which is getting great reviews and I’m really looking forward to it, and the final performance of Where Do I Start? at lunchtime on Saturday. Last Monday, I also bought tickets to Eternal Rising of the Sun and In My Bed (now almost sold out), after they both got great reviews last weekend. I’m just started a course called Ensemble Acting but most of my Fringe viewing has been one-man/woman shows. I’m also really looking forward to Pop Céilí on Saturday night. Hurray for another Fringe weekend!

Of course there are loads of other shows that I would love to see but can’t fit in. If you are stuck dumb by the selection on offer, may I suggest;

Man of Valour – getting great reviews from all over the place and I’m raging I can’t fit it into my Fringe schedule. I’m hoping they will do another run sometime soon.

Luca and the Sunshine – also getting great reviews and it sounds like a sweet fairytale. It stars John Cronin who was our Bill for End of the Road and is always excellent.

Jumping Off the Earth – part of the Rough Magic SEEDS Programme and directed by José Miguel Jiménez, one fifth of The Company, it sounds like a very interesting show.

Follow – a chance to visit the new Lir Theatre see a show in sign-language.

TwentyTen, the omnibus edition – if you can manage 6 hours in the theatre absorbing all of 2010, then THEATREclub will buy you a drink. Seriously – there’s a free vodka and mixer for everyone in the audience after Saturday’s show.