Salman Rushdie knows the game. He writes a book – and then the journalists who interview him barge past the bigger themes, and instead demand to know which bits of the book are based on his life.
When was the last time you were in a theatre? Do you remember what it feels like to be huddled up with hundreds of strangers as the lights go down? As an actor and theatre-maker, I relish that live experience: the doors closing and time pausing; the room gradually warming up with the heat from the lights; the anticipation as you wait in the wings for the first music cue to kick in — and we’re off!
Samuel Beckett is having a good pandemic. His absurdism coupled with metaphysical exploration is almost a cosy fit for tormented times. This New York production of his best-known play is presented in Zoom format. Vladimir (Ethan Hawke) and Estragon (John Leguizamo) are each separately located in dimly lit squat-like interiors, awaiting Godot. Pozzo (Tarik Trotter) and Lucky (Wallace Shawn) join in from equally dimly lit hovels, with Pozzo’s background a little more salubrious.
This world premiere from playwright Frank McGuinness gives us a tender portrait of daughterly devotion: a young woman probes her father’s dementia-stricken brain for confirmation of their bond, like a devoted Cordelia attending to an addled King Lear. The play is set over a visiting hour during Covid-19. The dramatic shape is that of a jigsaw puzzle: small clues of a life are dropped here and there for the audience to assemble, but reliable narrator the father is not.
When Brian Friel died in 2015, I wrote that “he held the mirror up to the Irish psyche and Irish identity, stripping away our posturing pretence at internationalism and cosmopolitanism.” For Friel, all politics was indeed local as he examined and passed judgement on the world through the prism of an invented town in Donegal called Ballybeg.
John McCarthy’s artistic mission here is to represent the concept of a city as a repository of stories; the idea is inspired by the integrated circuits found in microchips, which seem city-like to him. This co-production between writer-performer McCarthy and Cork’s Everyman, filmed on the Everyman stage, is an attempt to translate the stories of a city into a one-man-show.
During her early days as an artist, Susan Cairns rendered a whole range of subjects including landscapes and portraits – but beautifully composed and expertly painted still lifes are now Cairns’s main focus and passion.
Like all Shakespeare tragedies, 'King Lear' offers the audience an engaging theatrical experience. To my mind, 'King Lear' has much more to offer than the other tragedies. Firstly, it showcases Shakespeare's unparalleled prowess as a playwright. Secondly, it affords directors and producers opportunities for approaches to staging that continue to evolve and surprise. Over the last four years, Leaving Cert students have been asked to demonstrate an understanding of Shakespeare's dramatic techniques, as well as discuss possibilities for staging the Shakespearean Single Text. Here is just a sampling of the elements that should inform your studies for this year's Shakespeare question.
A Game of Thrones actor and his playwright partner have raised concerns over alleged similarities between a play they staged last year and the Gate Theatre’s forthcoming pandemic production – both of which centre on the universal theme of father-daughter relationship.
John Millington Synge was born 150 years ago on April 16. He died in 1909 at the age of 37 from Hodgkin’s disease, leaving a small body of dramatic work. It comprises three full-length plays and three shorter ones. He developed a style of heightened language and tragicomic mix that paved the way for the career of Seán O’Casey, the second great founding father of modern Irish playwriting.
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