Wednesday 21 August 2019

My Cultural Life: Mike Finn, playwright

Mike Finn
Mike Finn
Jack Donovan
Call My Agent
The undertaking

Mike Finn is a playwright, screenwriter and actor: among his plays are Pigtown, winner of the Stewart Parker Award, and Life In 2 Syllables, described by The Guardian as "ingeniously written". For television, he has co-written extensively with Pat Shortt, including Killinaskully. His play about the Limerick Soviet, Bread Not Profits, will be performed at Limerick's Cleeve's Factory, from this Wednesday (, having attracted a record amount of Arts Council funding. In 2017, Mike was theatre artist-in-residence at the Belltable. Limerick.

Artist: Jack Donovan

Jack Donovan

The late, great Jack Donovan is a man whose work I hugely admire. His paintings are always lively, vibrant, colourful and playful but with a dark, almost menacing, undercurrent (sample, above). His subjects range across history, politics and theatre so his work is peopled by clowns, bishops, prostitutes and soldiers all occupying a distorted version of reality.

Documentary: Unquiet Graves

I recently saw a terrific documentary called Unquiet Graves by Sean Murray. It detailed the activities of the so-called Glenanne Gang of loyalist terrorists who were responsible for, among other atrocities, the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Using a lively mix of interviews, reconstructions, heartrending eyewitness accounts and animation, the film details the collusion between the gang and the security forces.

TV: Call My Agent

Call My Agent

Like everyone else, platforms like Netflix have changed the way I watch television, and I've been devouring comedies like Norsemen and Toast Of London. I'm behind the times with Derry Girls but will jump on that bandwagon soon. I've just finished a very stylish French comedy called Call My Agent! (above), which features every Gallic actor or actress of note playing themselves.

Music: Kathleen Turner

I'm currently immersed in rehearsals for Bread Not Profits, a play about the Limerick Soviet of 1919. There are fabulous new songs written for the play by David Blake of the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra. I'm finding it hard to get these songs out of my head - but that's OK because they're very good. Otherwise, Emma Langford and Kathleen Turner take turns dominating my CD player.

Book: The Undertaking

The undertaking

In the area of fiction I love anything by Kevin Barry and was recently introduced to the darkly comic world of Donegal writer Patrick McGinley. I'm also re-reading The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch - the best book about death that you'll find anywhere.

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