Theatre: Lear Project, Irish Modern Dance Theatre

At the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Watergate Theatre, 15-17 August 2014, 6pm. Tickets €18, concession €15.50.

 

From the festival website:

In a world premiere commissioned by Kilkenny Arts Festival, Irish Modern Dance Theatre reimagines Shakespeare’s King Lear. Choreographer John Scott and an international cast explore themes of parental love, old age, loss of power, fear of death, personal transformation and enlightenment.

The title role is taken by a legend of the New York modern dance scene: Valda Setterfield, one of the original members of the seminal Judson Church movement and a long-time collaborator of Merce Cunningham and her husband, choreographer David Gordon. The performers portraying Lear’s children include Kévin Coquelard (star of the Paris Conservatoire) and Ryan O’Neill (Ponydance and Junk Ensemble).

Lear Project promises to be a deeply personal, playful and profoundly moving new work.

John Scott’s Irish Modern Dance Theatre is a pioneering and diverse ensemble that brings together Cunningham dancers with African torture survivors. Characterised by its passionate, witty and virtuosic choreography, the ensemble has toured its award-winning shows across the world.

Directed by John Scott
Designed by Eric Würtz
Composed by James Everest

WHEN

Friday 15 Aug 6pm
Saturday 16 Aug 6pm
Sunday 17 Aug 6pm

WHERE

The Watergate Theatre

DURATION

60 mins approx.

PRICES

€18 / €15.50

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Exhibition: Imagining Japan, 1570-1750, Marsh’s Library

The current exhibition at Marsh’s Library has been extended until September.

From the website:

Imagining Japan, 1570-1750 is a unique opportunity to examine early European encounters with, and interest in, Japan.

The exhibition displays a number of rare early maps of Japan, the most striking of which is taken from Blaeu’s 1662 hand-coloured Atlas Maior. It shows how Japan’s isolation enabled it to become the backdrop for European fiction, most notably in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Location: Marsh’s Library, St Patrick’s Close, Dublin 8 (beside St Patrick’s Cathedral).

Duration: 14 April, extended to September 2014

Opening Hours (from April 2014) :

9.30 – 5.00. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

10.00 – 5.00. Saturday.

Closed Tuesday & Sunday.

Admission: €3 adults. Concessions €2.

 

Theatre: Timon of Athens, Project Arts Centre

Timon

AC Productions

4 – 19 June, 2014 (8.15pm), Previews 2 & 3 June

Project Arts Centre, Dublin (Cube)

“Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy” Act 3 Sc: 5

Timon of Athens is a parable about money, friendship, betrayal, loyalty and corruption. It is a play for our times. When his fortunes fail, he discovers that the very people who celebrated his generosity and riches are the first to betray him.

Written around 1606 in the later stage of his career and co-authored with Thomas Middleton, the play is an undiscovered gem. Last seen in Dublin at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1972 it feels like his most contemporary play, the boom and bust, the corrupt politicians, the heartless, nameless bondholders are all characters from today’s world.

Review: RSC’s The Rape of Lucrece, performed by Camille O’Sullivan – Cork Opera House 7th June 2014

While Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece was popular when it was first published – some 420 years ago this year – the poem remains a relatively unknown work to most modern audiences. Bearing this in mind, I approached Camille O’Sullivan’s performance with more than a little curiosity – How exactly would O’Sullivan convey the language and energy of the poem? Could this narrative poem work as drama and, if so, how? How would this lengthy poem, written in rhyme royal, be received by an audience unfamiliar with the Ovidian tale and Shakespeare’s poetic style? It was a delight then to discover that through O’Sullivan’s skilful wielding of words, the carefully calibrated decisions to use song at key moments, and a vibrant musical score, the poem was invested with new life and so captivated a new audience.

Opening on a simple set, the eye was drawn to some key features. Feargal Murray played a black piano off to one side, golden light streamed through high arched windows, and stacks of papers were positioned around the stage like stools. Given the shift from day to night to day in the poem, and the mention of Tarquin’s flickering torch, the use of light and dark on stage was purposeful. O’Sullivan arrived on stage in a black, military-style cassock. Using the poem’s ‘Argument’, she began her performance as the narrator and set out the story for the audience. The key players of the piece – Lucrece and Tarquin – were indicated by O’Sullivan’s pointing to two pairs of shoes: Lucrece was represented by pale slippers, Tarquin by black army boots. A notable strength of O’Sullivan’s performance was its clarity; each character was distinctive and she moved with ease between the roles of narrator, Lucrece, Tarquin, and later Collatine, and Lucretius. Throughout, O’Sullivan succeeded in bringing out the drama in the poem and useful links with other Shakespearean characters were discernible; by turns, the portrayal of Lucrece and Tarquin called to mind characters as diverse as Lavinia, Cressida, Angelo, Macbeth, and Othello.

While O’Sullivan delivered a commanding performance throughout, she was most compelling when voicing the tortured Tarquin. Through spoken word, song, and movement, she articulated his desire, and later his shame and self-hatred, with passion and verve. In one of Tarquin’s song, she languidly repeated the lines “her azure veins, her coral lips, her alabaster skin, her snow-white dimpled chin” (l.419-420) so that the blazon became an eerie, haunting refrain. A further memorable moment came when, as Tarquin, she tiptoed to Lucrece’s chamber, almost had her (imagined) torch blown out, but finally “with his knee the door he opens wide” (l.359). It was a testament to O’Sullivan’s performance that, although we knew well the outcome of Tarquin’s nocturnal excursion, this was a tense and gripping moment where everything seemed to hang in the balance.

At the finale of the poem, the men of Lucrece’s family gather to speak to her but end up bearing witness to her suicide. As Lucrece’s grief-stricken father Lucretius, O’Sullivan addresses his daughter’s dead body (or rather, the spot where O’Sullivan, as Lucrece, had fallen at her death only moments before.) In the end, therefore, Lucrece and Tarquin are absent presences; they drive the action, they are spoken of, their actor stands on the stage (now embodying other characters), but they are nowhere to be seen. It is a testament to the power of Shakespeare’s language and this production’s fresh and energetic rendering of the tale, then, that Lucrece and Tarquin remain in our minds long after they have left the stage.

Adapted by Elizabeth Freestone, Feargal Murray, and Camille O’Sullivan. Music composed by Feargal Murray and Camille O’Sullivan. Directed by Elizabeth Freestone.

This review was kindly contributed by Dr. Edel Semple, University College Cork.

Poem: Shakespeare in Ireland

‘Shakespeare in Ireland’

One bearded me, hop-addled, the hour late;

a rug-haired kerne, grog-blossoms in full bloom.

“What business have you here?” The age-old hate

glittering in those bane-filled eyes; the room

full suddenly of music, flute and fiddle,

as snag-toothed locals gaily take the floor,

advance, retreat, advance, rehearsing battle;

a merry dance they led us. But what for?

A charnel-house, this place: rain-lashed, hag-cursed,

a song that’s sung shut-eyed against the pain.

There is no future here, only the past;

a blood-revenant, come to avenge the slain,

who’d this night gladly kill me, one brute blow

as jigs and reels come rivering off the bow.

John O’Donnell won the Hennessy Award for Fiction in 2013. He has published two collections of poetry; a third, On Water, is due out this year. Available on the Irish Times website here.