Tuesday 27 September 2016

Current affairs, you're killing me but art can save us

Published 17/08/2014 | 02:30

Orla Barry
Orla Barry

Apart from being a very capable broadcaster, one of the best things about Keelin Shanley is her voice. It's very soothing, you see. Sort of calming and comforting.

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You feel you can trust this person, you're in good hands; on some level, you half-think, the owner of that voice will make things better.

And when listening to the sort of stuff Shanley has to cover as substitute-host on Today with Sean O'Rourke (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 10am), you need that.

God, it's a depressing world, isn't it? The topics she covered included: Robin Williams committing suicide, a rise in European anti-Semitism, hard drugs in small towns, those Isis lunatics in Iraq, Dublin's housing crisis, the Ebola virus and how technology could be taking over our lives. It's like a shopping list for Hell's Supermarket. I often wonder, how do people like Shanley (or O'Rourke, Pat Kenny or anyone else) deal with all this stuff, day after day, year after year?

Horror following horror following more horror, with tiny incremental improvements keeping hope for humanity alive, just about.

If that was my job, I think I'd become so embittered, despondent and angry I'd be incapable of functioning after six months. It's a tough station, and they're obviously tougher men and women than me.

For some relief, where do you turn? The arts, of course - the finest expression of mankind's better self.

The Green Room (Newstalk, Sat 9pm) always carries lots of good interviews with creative people, and this week had an especially good one. Orla Barry chatted to actor Mikel Murfi, currently appearing in Enda Walsh's brilliant play Ballyturk opposite namesake Cillian and Stephen Rea.

Theatre people, in many ways, are the most interesting artists. Maybe it's because the nature of their work is so collaborative, compared to writing novels or composing music; maybe it's the edge of live performance, the way the work changes with every performance.

Or maybe it's the simple fact that, more than anyone really, theatre actors are doing it for the love of art, not financial reward. Anyway, Murfi's thoughts on acting, drama and audience interaction were fascinating, and the whole thing was a balm to the soul.

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