Thursday 22 August 2019

Kirsty at large: In defence of the old guard - why theatre's luvvie-in needs to be shown final curtain

All cosy: Best-selling author of the 'Little Book of Hygge' and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Meik Wiking
All cosy: Best-selling author of the 'Little Book of Hygge' and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Meik Wiking
Drag empress: Alan Amsby aka Mr Pussy
Abbey launch: Annabel Bass, left, and Lisa Dwan
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in his onesie style coat, ahead of Jose Mourinhow
Senator Kevin Humphreys taking a photo of First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon MSP and female members of the Seanad.
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

I love the theatre - the velveteen seats, the hushed whispers and, of course, there's always the tantalising possibility everything could go t**s up at any moment.

But the air of self-righteous sanctimony that can surround Ireland's theatre scene makes me want to scream. This week, the Abbey Theatre launched its 2017 programme 'What Happens Next Is This'.

The programme consists of previous hits from the last decade of Irish theatre, and a few productions from overseas. Enda Walsh's Arlington and Ballyturk, the Corn Exchange's Dublin by Lamplight sit alongside stage adaptations of Emma Donoghue's Oscar winner Room and Ken Loach's Jimmy's Hall.

Oh, and Roddy Doyle's Two Pints Facebook series will embark on a pub tour/crawl around the country.

It may not be a high risk or innovative programme, but it does have one thing the 2015 line up was lacking - women.

Maybe not a huge amount of female writers (three in total), but that's still more than the 2015 slate (which only had one). However, there was something about the programme launch that didn't sit so well with me. First of all, it was far, far too long. A two-hour discussion on the creative selection process is not fun. On top of this, the underlying tone of self-congratulation irked me. People talked about the Abbey finally being "re-opened".

"When I met you," producer Ann Clarke told directors Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, "You said to me 'This is your theatre'. And I want to thank you for that." This sentiment was reiterated by several others during the evening. Some comments seemed to be a not-too-subtle side swipe at the previous artistic director, Fiach Mac Conghail. That bothered me.

Sure, Fiach had his share of shortcomings - he didn't see the importance of a good edit, and had an insatiable appetite for the work of George Bernard Shaw - the most boring Irish writer going.

Yes, the 2016 centenary programme was a total balls-up, and his reaction ("Them's the breaks") was even worse. But he seems to have become the fall guy for everything the Abbey got wrong in the past decade. It's worth remembering the Abbey board members approved Fiach's 2016 programme. Why aren't they taking more flak?

To reduce his contribution down to one season seems grossly unfair. A similar thing seems to be happening at the Gate Theatre.

The theatre's announcement in June that Michael Colgan was stepping down was staggeringly disrespectful.

The first official statement came in the form of a classified job listing in the back of The 'Irish Times'. I mean, come the f**k on. The man has worked at the theatre for the best part of 40 years! A little fanfare wouldn't go amiss. Trying to relegate people's artistic contribution because you didn't like some of their programme choices is not only unjust, it's kind of pathetic.

Are Seoige sisters Ireland's answer to Hygge?

2016-12-03_iri_26783594_I1.JPG
All cosy: Best-selling author of the 'Little Book of Hygge' and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Meik Wiking
 

In the past month, I feel like I have scrolled through approximately 768 "How to Hygge" articles. That impossible-to-pronounce Danish word all about being warm and fuzzy inside.

If by some miracle of fate, the Hygge hype has passed you by, then here's a quick debrief.

It's basically a lifestyle choice constructed around the lyrics of 'These Are a Few of My Favourite Things'.

This week, author of the Little Book of Hygge and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Meik Wiking rocked into town c/o of BIC.

Meik is very, very handsome - as most Danish men seem to be - and in the toasty surroundings of Whelan's pub he told us about the joy of living 'hygge-ly'.

A lot of the stuff seemed blindingly obvious - warm socks, for example, are preferable to cold, wet socks.

This may explain why articles such as 'Hygge is Byllshytte' have started popping up. But Meik is charming (did I mention that he's also very, very handsome?) so with his help I have constructed a list of super Hygge Irish things.

They are as follows; woollen socks, candles, the Rose of Tralee, barmbrack, Enya, hot chocolate, more candles, Nationwide, Barry's Tea, mismatched china tea cups, Ballymaloe relish, turf, jumpers, porridge, and the Seoige sisters.

And the not so Hygge things?

Concrete, Twink, sequins, the queue outside Copperface Jacks, Eurovision, high heels, Iarnród Éireann toilets, the shifting wall inside Copperface Jacks, Buckfast and Linda Martin.

Having compared the two lists, I concede that Hygge is more comforting and cosy but doesn't the anti-Hygge list sounds heaps more fun?

I mean who would choose drinking tea with the Seoige sisters over a night on the rip with Twink?

Mr Pussy's memoirs? Gotta grab them all

2016-12-03_iri_26786486_I1.JPG
Drag empress: Alan Amsby aka Mr Pussy

Drag empress: Alan Amsby aka Mr Pussy

Before there was Panti, there was Pussy.

Ireland's first drag empress arrived here in 1969, caused a sensation and never returned to London.

Along the way, Mr Pussy became BFFs with Bono, tap danced with Lionel Blair, performed alongside Lily Savage and snogged Danny La Rue.

This week, he launched his memoir Before I Forget to Remember in Lillie's Bordello.

"I haven't set foot in here for 20 years," said Miriam O'Callaghan, who was on hosting duties.

The place was packed; TV3's Alan Hughes, Katherine Lynch, Rory Cowan, Sil Fox and Senator David Norris all flitted about the pleather clad room. Journalist Dave Kenny helped write the book and said getting Pussy to 'fess up about his celebrity encounters was like "squeezing champagne from a turnip".

Mr Pussy inspired a whole legion of drag artists including Panti Bliss - who wrote the foreword.

"I met him when I was a baby drag," Ms Bliss recalled. "Pussy looked me up and down and then imperiously dismissed me, but that made me love her even more."

TOPS

Toy Show chitter chatter

Now Ryan and the kids have had their say, it truly is Christmas

Bella Hadid

Gave a masterclass in the art of post-break-up side-eye at the Victoria Secret’s show

FLOPS

Trickmas angst

Undue amounts of stress caused by those devilishly difficult people to buy for

Wearable sleeping bags

ir wenger.jpg
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in his onesie style coat, ahead of Jose Mourinhow
 

The new onesie. Style inspo = Arsene Wenger

SAY WHAT?

“They’re more focused on glamour than the weather”

Viewers inform the BAI that they are not impressed with RTÉ weather forecasters’ snappy dress sense.

#PHOTOFAIL

NO FEE OI (31).jpg
Senator Kevin Humphreys taking a photo of First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon MSP and female members of the Seanad.

Another week, another political selfie scrum — this time with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Can we please have a clause written into our constitution banning politicians from posing for these snaps?

Indo Review

Editors Choice

Also in this section