Tuesday 12 December 2017

Tighter belts fail to put squeeze on lively line-up of premieres

A scene from Berninna
A scene from Berninna
Ciaran Hinds and Sinead Cusack in 'Juno and the Paycock'
A scene from 'Gardenia'

Sophie Gorman

DUBLIN Theatre Festival shows are selling out, as fans flock to world premieres, dazzling aerial acrobatics, multimedia illusion and circus magic.

Reflecting the current economic situation, the 54th Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival has suffered budgetary cutbacks.

But any tightening of purse strings has not restrained this year's programme.

Eight shows open tonight, including an aerial acrobatic interpretation of Chekhov in the Gaiety and the premiere of 'Juno and The Paycock'.

Starring Ciaran Hinds, Risteard Cooper and Sinead Cusack, this version of the Sean O'Casey classic is a much-anticipated co-production between our National Theatre and the National Theatre of Great Britain, and it will tour to the West End following this run at the Abbey Theatre.

In all, 553 performances of 28 productions will take place over 18 days.

And the theatre box office reports tickets -- with prices starting at €15 -- are selling particularly well, with many performances of certain shows already sold out.

These include 'The Animals And Children Took To The Streets', 'Trade', 'The Lulu House', 'Othello C'est Qui' and 'Laundary'.

This year's festival will be the last one programmed by its current artistic director, Loughlin Deegan, who has recently taken up the position of director of The Lir, the newly opened National Academy of Dramatic Art in Trinity College Dublin. Under Deegan's much-admired curatorship over the past five years, the theatre festival has expanded both in ambition and in achievement.

It has also become more determinedly engaged with the city, and that is certainly true of this year's programme, which has a number of site-specific productions including one in a city centre Magdalene Laundry.

Marking another significant change, this is also the last year that Ulster Bank will be the title sponsor of the festival, after a successful five-year relationship.

The festival runs until October 16 in locations ranging from our biggest stages to a B&B in the north inner-city, from Rathfarnham Castle and James Joyce's House of The Dead to a Magdalene Laundry previously inaccessible to visitors.

International highlights include theatre giants Kneehigh and les ballets C de la B, and world renowned directors Ivo van Hove, Daniele Finzi Pasca and Alain Platel.

There will be 10 world premieres from Irish companies, including Rough Magic, the Abbey Theatre with the National Theatre of Great Britain, Landmark Productions, Fabulous Beast and Sadler's Wells, Brokentalkers, Siren Productions, ANU Productions, THISISPOPBABY and The Gate, which is presenting a new stage version of Hugo Hamilton's memoir 'The Speckled People'.

The festival also has much drama off stage, with a programme of special events, including a series of panel discussions presented in association with RTE Radio 1 and a series of public interviews on the nature of adaptation.

Irish Independent

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