Monday, May 31, 2010

The Importance of Being Earnest

Rough Magic at the Gaiety – it might seem an unusual venue for the magicians but they’ve actually been there before, and with another play by Oscar Wilde – Lady Windermere’s Fan, a very stylish black and white affair, back in 1994. What’s unusual about their latest production, The Importance of Being Earnest, is the sprinkling of Hollywood stardust in the shape of Stockard Channing, Tony and Emmy award winner and probably best known for her performances in The West Wing and Grease. Channing takes on the role of the formidable Lady Bracknell, and everyone will no doubt be waiting with bated breath for her utterance of those two memorable words: “A Handbag?” Joining her on stage will be a cast of Rough Magic regulars including Rory Keenan, Rory Nolan, Aoife Duffin, Gemma Reeves, Peter Daly, Darragh Kelly, Eleanor Methven and Arthur Riordan. Lynne Parker directs. Previews from Wed 2 June and opens on Tue 8.

Dublin Writers Festival

This year’s Dublin Writers Festival is about to kick off, with 6 days jammed full of literary-related events from Tue 1 to Sun 6 June. Over 40 writers are taking part including the likes of Antony Beevor (Stalingrad), Hanif Kurieshi (My Beautiful Launderette), Yann Martel (The Life of Pi) and the multi award-winning Ian McEwan, who goes head to head with 1960’s counter-culture icon Stewart Brand on the issue of global warming. Major Irish writers include Tom Murphy and Jennifer Johnston, both celebrating significant birthdays this year, and also in birthday mode is The Gallery Press, throwing a bit of a poetry party at the Abbey on the final day. Paul Brady and Neil Hannon explore the art of song writing and there’s discussions on the new feminism, that tricky second novel, Irish language travel literature and even a bilingual multimedia event. Check it all out@


There’s another chance to hear New York based pianist Isabelle O’ Connell at the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room on Tue 1 June as part of the NewSoundWorlds series. One of the ash cloud casualties that now seem so last month, she’ll be getting to grips with Book 1 of George Crumb’s masterful Makrokosmos, written in 1972 to explore the sonic possibilities of the piano. In what looks like a really interesting programme there's also pieces by Ken Steen, Terry Winter, Henry Cowell and James Mobberley.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dawn Chorus

Here’s one for early birds. You can join the dawn chorus at the Clontarf causeway on Dollymount Strand at 7am tomorrow (Sun) morning as part of the Bealtaine festival. Sing your heart out in solidarity with Active Retirement groups all around the coast.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Feldman Festival

The music of American composer Morton Feldman takes centre stage at IMMA on Sun 30 May as part of the current exhibition Vertical Thoughts: Morton Feldman and the Visual Arts. In their first ever collaboration, Crash Ensemble and the National Chamber Choir perform Feldman’s Rothko Chapel, a tribute to his close friend the artist Mark Rothko. Feldman described the piece thus: ‘Rothko's imagery goes right to the edge of his canvas, and I wanted the same effect with the music… the sound is closer, more physically with you than in a concert hall.’ Crash also join forces with actors Barry McGovern and Owen Roe in a rare performance of Words and Music, Samuel Beckett’s 1961 radio play which was scored by Feldman in 1985.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

Music from Mali at the Button Factory on Fri 28 May courtesy of the Improvised Music Company. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba between them feature no less than 4 ngoni, the percussive 4-stringed lute that later evolved into the banjo, along with vocals, calabash and percussion. The virtuosic Bassekou Kouyate has done his time with the late Ali Farka Toure, and for the past decade with Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra, while his wife Ami Sacko on vocals has been described as the Tina Turner of Bamako. Add in Ngoni Ba, hugely popular in Mali, with two critically acclaimed CDs and a reputation for a killer live show. ‘Disco ngoni through a Fender amp, how cool can you get?!’ says Ian Anderson of Froots.


Previewing at the Abbey right now and opening on Tue 1 June is the world premiere of a new play by Bernard Farrell – his 21st play, and the 11th to premiere at the Abbey. Farrell is a popular playwright with a light comic touch, whose plays inhabit the thorny territory of suburban middle-class angst – everything from self-help groups to aging parents – and in this latest work he turns his attention to the perennial pleasures and competitive tyrannies of the bookclub. Bookworms is directed by Jim Culleton with a cast that includes Deirdre Donnelly, Phelim Drew, Louis Lovett and Marion O’Dwyer, and among the creative team is fight director Paul Burke, so expect sparks to fly.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sundays @ Noon

Free lunchtime music coming up at the Hugh Lane Gallery: On Sun 23 May Fionnuala Moynihan continues her chronological survey of the complete Mozart Piano Sonatas, playing No 12 in F, No 13 in Bflat and No 14 in C minor. On Sun 30 you can hear Bach’s Goldberg Variations arranged for String Trio by Dmitri Sitkovetsky, performed by Mia Cooper on violin, John Lynch on viola and Sarah McMahon on cello.

Iron in Smithfield

A new arts space in a Nama building? Well, every cloud has a silver lining. The building in question is Block C on Smithfield Square, now renamed The Complex and with its own resident theatre company Complex Productions. Already with one production under their belt, last year’s site-specific Complexity, their latest show, which runs til Sat 5 June is the Irish premiere of Rona Munro’s Broadway success Iron, directed by Vanessa Fielding. In this taut psychological thriller, a woman serving life for murdering her husband is reunited with her adult daughter, but things turn nasty when the daughter decides to get her mother’s case re-opened.


Tom Stoppard’s multi-award winning comedy Arcadia has just started previews at the Gate. Cleverly fusing past and present, the thrills of a gripping literary detective story in a tale of mystery and love make this play, first staged in 1993 with a cast that included Rufus Sewell, Felicity Kendal and Bill Nighy, something of a masterpiece. This time around Ingrid Craigie heads the cast, with Patrick Mason directing.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dublin Dance Festival 2010

And they’re off! If you got a chance to strut your stuff at last night’s Bumper to Bumper headphone disco, you’ll already be in the mood for dance, and there’s a wealth of invigorating and inspirational shows to choose from over the next 2 weeks featuring artists from around the globe. Junk Ensemble’s new show Five Ways to Drown is at Project tonight and on Tue 11 &Wed 12 there’s a double bill from legendary US choreographer Yvonne Rainer: RoS Indexical which harks back to the passion and furore of The Rite of Spring premiere in 1913, and her latest work Spiraling Down.

Also in the opening week, emerging Italian choreographers are showcased in the Aerowaves double bill; from the US there’s Vicky Shick’s collaborative duet Repair, with a live sound score; and Heidi Latsky’s Gimp featuring performers with physical differences; Sunstruck from Australia, in which 2 virtuosic dancers respond to 2 live musicians and a rolling light; a solo and a duet from upcoming Canadian/UK choreographer Laila Diallo; and the world premiere of Rex Levitates’ Secondary Sources, exploring the influences in our bodies that come from people, places and events.

The festival’s Centrepiece Performance at the Samuel Beckett on Tue 17 &Wed 18 comes from the hugely influential German choreographer Raimund Hoghe: Young People, Old Voices juxtaposes the boisterousness of youthful dancers with end of career songs from Jacques Brel and Billie Holiday, building an increasingly poignant contrast between Hoghe and the 12 young cast members from Ireland and abroad. Other shows in week 2 include Caterina Sagna’s talk-based Basso Ostinato; Swimming With My Mother, featuring Coisceim’s David Bolger and his Mum – part of a double bill with Silvia Gribaudi’s ironic take on the female condition A Corpo Libero; and Carlotta Sagna’s Ad Vitam, probing the borders of normality and pathology.

There’s the world premiere of Tere O’Connor’s Day, created for Jean Butler, which moves away from her established world of Irish dance; and Dutch choreographer Beppie Blankert’s Double Track, based on Samuel Beckett’s Text for Nothing, which was originally created in 1986 to a commissioned score by Louis Andriessen. Crash Ensemble will open the show with a live performance of Double Track (Dubblelspoor). Flamenco takes centre stage in the festival’s Grand Finale at Vicar Street on Sun 23. This is the real thing from Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenco, gritty, authentic and passionate performances from an extraordinary ensemble of dancers, singers and guitarists led by the fiery multi-award-winning Soledad Barrio, the ‘Baryshnikov of flamenco’.