7 days and nights
Friday, September 24
Culture Night, various venues, various cities
Culture in all its various forms will be exploding all over the land tonight as Culture Night takes over cities and towns across Ireland.
With many arts centres throwing their doors open late and hosting free colourful events, this is your chance to visit all those places you've always thought were just for the tourists or the artistic elite. From paella and paintings in Dublin's Francis Street to a fascinating celebration of the glories of vinyl in Dingle, from poetry and prose in Drumshanbo to a tug 'o' war in Athlone, from an impromptu haiku competition in Ballina to world music fiesta in Portlaoise -- all of this island will be a stage. So make sure to load up on energy drinks and be wearing your fastest rollerskates, as this is a night to cram in as many sights and sounds as possible.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
Michael Buble, Aviva Stadium
Crooner of the hour Michael Bublé is a proper superstar in Ireland, as two sell-out nights at the futuristic Aviva Stadium certainly serve to attest. Nothing in his songbook will frighten the animals -- but then you don't get to be this popular by not giving the punters precisely what they want. And this baby-faced Canadian's set-list is stuffed with velvety standards such as Mack The Knife, How Sweet It Is, Me and Mrs Jones, as well as a syrupy version of Justin Timberlake's Cry Me A River. Expect handkerchiefs to be the order of the day.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
Your Man's Puppets, City Museum, Galway
Although some of our politicians may resemble puppets of the Spitting Image variety, there is a more traditional puppet show delighting Galwegians of all ages every Sunday in the City Museum. Thomas Baker first performed his puppetry on the streets of Galway when he was studying fine art there in the 80s, before embarking on his international travels. Earlier this year, he returned to his hometown and set up his own company, Your Man's Puppets, which has since performed in children's festivals from Westport to New Delhi and Singapore. They have now taken up weekly residence in this new puppet venue and perform two shows every Sunday afternoon that promise to entertain all ages.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
The Town, General Release
Ben Affleck surprised many in 2007 when he resurrected his career in a single, bold stroke by turning himself into a director. If Gone Baby Gone showed great film-making promise, The Town confidently fulfils it. It's a stylish, spare and extremely entertaining heist thriller and one of the best mainstream films we'll see this year. Affleck plays Doug McRay, a Boston bank robber who falls in love with a woman his gang briefly took hostage during a daring raid. She doesn't know who he really is, but a dogged FBI agent (John Hamm) is closing in, and when a local crime boss forces McRay and his crew to attempt a major heist at a baseball game, things looks sure to end badly. Fast-paced, solidly written and darkly funny, The Town boasts some fine performances, not least from Affleck himself.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
Ken Doherty vs Jimmy White, Sandford Park School, Ranelagh
Yes, that Ken Doherty and that Jimmy White. And these two snooker legends will be cueing up against each other in a challenge match with none other than telly's John Virgo, yes that John Virgo, overseeing proceedings. This has to rank as one of the most unexpected inclusions in this year's Ranelagh Arts Festival, although Doherty is himself a loyal Ranelagh man, having learned his craft in nearby Jason's snooker hall. And this most eclectic festival has built on last year's success to put together a packed programme of film, music, street performance, lectures and walks that continues until next Sunday.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
Policing Dialogues, The Lab, Foley Street, Dublin 1
"I'd say I get stopped about 20 times a month. I'm going to the shop, they stop me. I'm going home, they stop me." This is just one of the voices we need to hear and take notice of in an interesting new exhibition currently showing at The Lab just beside Talbot Street. Asking 'what's the story with the police?', this is a raw exploration of neighbourhood relations of power in south inner-city Dublin told through the very personal stories of the teenagers who live there. A collaborative work between artist Fiona Whelan and the Rialto Youth Project, this features experiences of discrimination, harassment and suspicion from gardai. But, rather than amplify the divide between the gardai and the community, this project has encouraged an ongoing dialogue between the two over the past three years. Maybe other communities should take a leaf out of their book?
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30
Dublin Theatre Festival, various venues
This year's festival has cut its cloth to fit, paradoxically, both straightened times and its own expansionist ambition, with more shows but playing in smaller venues. It makes for a festival that is unusually intimate, never more so than in the audacious theatrical experiment, The Smile Off Your Face, in which the sole audience member is left alone with the cast. For something grander, Yaron Lifschitz's Circa, from Australia, provides a spectacular but intimate take on circus, while B for Baby by newcomer Carmel Winters brings the combined talents of director Mikel Murfi and actors Louis Lovett and Michele Moran to the Peacock stage, in a tale of two residents of a care home. The Gate, meanwhile, opens a three-play Beckett Pinter Mamet season with David Mamet's comic three-hander for women (unusually for Mamet), Boston Marriage. www.dublintheatrefestival.com