Sunday 25 February 2018

Tain Arts Centre 'on the map'

Three years after its launch, An Táin Arts Centre is firmly on the cultural map of the North East.

'The first two years were very, very challenging but I think we have now put our stamp on the venue,' says Manager Paul Hayes. 'We are finding that people know about us and realise the quality of work which is being presented in this beautiful environment.'

An Táin Arts Centre, situated in Dundalk's fine town hall, comprises the main theatre and studio space, The Basement Gallery and workshop spaces, and pop up bar in the foyer.

As he discusses the programme for the coming season, Paul says he is 'very happy' with how the centre has grown so far. He pays tribute to the staff working at the centre who have contribute to its success.

The autumn/winter programme is typical of the direction he has pursued since taking up his role, with a variety of events to appeal to a wide audience without compromising on quality.

This season sees the introduction of packages which allow people to save money if they buy tickets for two shows.

'We looked at our data base and saw that people come to numerous shows so we've put together a number of packages to try to give better value to people who want to see more than one show.'

There are packages for the very popular film club and Paul points out that the Tuesday evening screenings will get under way at 8pm, half an hour earlier than previously, to allow time at the end for a discussion afterwards. 'We will also have a local craft beer available those nights for people to try.'

There are also packages for comedy and music events as well as productions aimed at families and schools.

'Culture Night on September 22 will be a big night for us and we're putting the folk group Kern outside the Tourist Office that afternoon and will be handing out flyers telling people about the events which we will have in the centre that night.'

Highlights of the coming season include concerts by the renowned Dublin Gospel Choir, a jazz night from Ardu, An Táin's vocal ensemble in residence, a trad night with Dermot Byrne, Steve Cooney and Trevor Hutchinson and a tribute to the late Christie Hennessy by Aonghus McAnally.

As always there is a big theatrical element to the programme, starting off with a visit by Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company with 'The Woman is Present: Women's Stories of WW11,' on September 28. The following night it's the turn of Devious Theatre with the comedy 'Pulled' which forms part of a package with the return of Dirtbirds' Sinead Culbert and Sue Collins, whose show sold out earlier this year.

The Abbey Theatre are returning with a show for schools, 'Me Sara', which is the third in the national theatre company's series based on Synge's The Playboy of the Western World.

Other productions for schools are the enchanted puppet show 'Locksmith's Song' and 'Jackula', which promises to deliver Halloween fun.

An Táin's theatre company in residence Quintessence are bringing their production 'Cracks' back due in October to public demand. This powerful piece of devised theatre explores issues of mental health in Ireland and is geared towards a teenage audience.

Paul says that a special effort is made to have shows for those wanting to celebrate Christmas with a visit to the theatre.

This year's offerings include magical 'Silver Moon' from the French company Compagnie Animotuion and 'Imelda McClory's Snowflake Story' from Drogheda-based Welly Boots Theatre Company.

'We'll also have the family double bill which has proven very popular in previous year with a wildcrafting festive workshop with local artist Pamela Whitaker followed by a screening of 'Elf the Movie'.

Other festive offerings include a screening of 'The Snowman' with Howard Blake's original score played life by the Drogheda Collective, while Ardu and Friends stage a Christmas concert in aid of Pieta House.

'We also have our school of music and drama workshops and this year we are offering a six week course in social dancing leading up to the evening with Strictly Come Dancing starts Kristina Rihannoff and Tristan MacManus'.

Exhibitions at the Basement Gallery include Follow the Stream with artist in residence Roseann Berril, Strech featuring work from the Creative Spark residency programme and paintings by local artist Rosemary Warren.

Full details of An Táin Arts Centre's autumn/winter programme can be found at

The Argus

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