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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Breaking Election Coverage!

For the day that is in it, this video perhaps sums up how we are at the stage we are at today on General Election day.

Phrases such as “A rotten candidate for a rotten borough” are definitely suited to some candidates more than others!

God speed to all voters and as long as the counting of votes tomorrow doesn’t resemble what is does here then we should be ok!

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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Abbey Theatre of 1904 brought back to life

A fascinating project was recently brought to my attention by @Marlalbur (who themselves have an excellent blog on Irish cultural history) An initiative by King’s College London historian, Hugh Denard, with Trinity College Dublin’s Long Room Hub & Irish digital graphics company, NOHO, The Abbey Theatre 1904 project is a project where the interior of the original Abbey Theatre, as used by the Irish National Theatre Society in 1904 is being digitally recreated in 3-D.

This painstakingly challenging and detailed task will for the first time bring to life the auditorium, the stage and more than just an impression of what was a birthing pool for theatre in Ireland. The Abbey was of course a National Theatre before there was even an Irish state. It was revolutionary for such a theatre to be state funded at the turn of the twentieth century. It was unheard of anywhere else in the world. Now, through the project website and blog, you can follow the progress as the Abbey of 1904 is recreated and visualised.

The project’s designers say of their work so far: “The task of digitally visualising the Abbey Theatre as designed by Joseph Holloway poses many challenges. Holloway’s architectural plans and drawings fortunately survive in the National Library of Ireland, and we have several black-and-white photographs of the early Abbey. However, it is more difficult to obtain detailed information about textiles, colour-schemes, and fixtures and fittings originally employed, as well as the less photogenic but functionally important backstage areas” 

“Because there will inevitably be gaps and contradictions in the historical information available to us, it becomes crucial to open the doors to the interpretative process so that the decisions we are making can be freely observed.”

The blog excellently chronicles the extricate research necessary and the time taken to sort through and pin point resources at various archives and institutions such as the National Library of Ireland, the Irish Architectural archive, British Pathe Film archives and many more. Videos outline the 3-D visualisation processes and blog articles describe visits to the Abbey Theatre’s own archive.

This is definetly a project to bookmark and keep an eye on as it unfolds. It shows how theatre history and theatre archives can be embraced and revitalised with the right idea and right technical knowhow. As the Abbey has entered its second century and still continues to grow and evolve, its roots and origins will not be forgotten.

Follow the Abbey Theatre 1904 project blog here and on Twitter @OldAbbeyDigital

 
 

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A Room With No View

When life pre-empts fiction, it is then at a point where one pauses and asks not “What?”, but “Why?” It is post-event, post action and leaves one only with the option to ‘react’. If you are to pick up a copy of Room by Emma Donoghue without knowing of the terrifying and chilling stories of the captivity and abuse of Jaycee Lee Dugard or Elizabeth Fritzl, the story would lack none of its impact or amazement at such an existence as that lived by Jack and Ma. However, armed with the details of real and similar stories, the gritty accounts of subterranean and bunkered life, then your reaction to ‘fiction’ becomes blurred.

Room is the story of 5-year old Jack, born into existence but not into the world as we know it or as his mother once knew it. Jack’s worlds is eleven feet square and very little else. Jack, oblivious to anything outside the lead-lines walls of his shed-prison, is unsettlingly content in his private world where the only human contact he encounters are that of his mother and the shadowy night visits of ‘Old Nick’. Room presents how captivity tortures Ma and Jack but in very different ways. Ma was just 18 when she was kidnapped and locked up. She was a college student, popular, studious and care-free. It was her good nature that saw her lured by her captor. Her memories of her former life are a constant pain as she knows of the joy of life outside Room. Jack, born into this walled world knows nothing of life and is unknown to him, tortured by his complete ignorance of real life.

The story is told in Jack’s voice. The child narrator adds a purer innocence to the sad tale. His frustration is palpable at not being able to comprehend the possibility of life outside Room. Ma and a small television set are his only sources of information. Anything outside of this is beyond Jack’s mind. His friends are inanimate objects, the drab and meagre possessions which make up the home.  Relationships with these objects such as ‘lamp’, ‘ball’ or ‘rug’ are easy to Jack as they can’t hurt him.

Jack has simply always only known a life where he is enclosed. The symbolism of his birth and life are not lost on this theme. He moves from the womb, to Room, sleeps in a wardrobe and even makes a break for freedom wrapped up in ‘Rug’. Ma, ever the figure of strength balances her hatred for her captor with her patience and devotion to her son.

Emma Donoghue

Protecting Jack at all costs from the grips of ‘Old Nick’ is the greatest act of devotion she can deliver.

 

The idea of a captive verses public life are explored and teased out expertly by Donoghue. The media frenzy and incessant and morbid interest by the public in their brutal and grotesque life in Room is a fair reflection and commentary on current society where the instant access and dissemination of ‘news’ and information via social media prove no-one or nothing is ever private anymore. While never contemplating a return to ‘Room’, the pressure of media notoriety provides its own struggles for the tragic pair of Ma and Jack. How Jack comprehends the possibility of human contact, the concept of family, of truth, trust and freedom make this story much more than just a commentary on any case of a sadistic rapist in Austria. In fact, to limit this book to simply being a knee-jerk reaction to that case does not do justice to the inert beauty, warmth and also tragedy of Jack and Ma’s life and relationship.

The voice of Jack as the child narrator is effective but at times does prove inconsistent as at times he composes sentences that should be far beyond his comprehension or vocabulary. This is more than a minor quibble in what is simply an astounding and horrifying story. Donoghue’s child narrator is still a most engaging child character, as credible as perhaps Mark Haddon’s child narrator in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. It is a book that compels you to read it in one sitting so don’t be surprised if you find your entire day or night devoted to this story! On finishing this 2010 Man Booker prize nominated book, the tragic realisation is that life indeed is stranger and more terrifying than fiction.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Books, Culture

 

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Hustings for the Arts

 

National Campaign for the Arts

 

 

The arts community is mobilising. Once again the driving force is the National Campaign for the Arts group who are getting to grips with the masses, getting to grips with those seeking our votes in the General Election. The venues have decided, the candidates are bracing themselves and all that is needed is the support and commitment of as many arts workers and professionals as possible!!

Hustings are taking place in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Limerick on Next Monday morning, February 14th. The times and venues are as follows:

Limerick, Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick City: 10.45am

Dublin, Project Arts Centre, Templebar: 10.45am

Cork, Crawford Art Gallery, Cork City: 10:45am

Galway, Radisson Blu Hotel, Galway City, 10.45am

In Dublin the arts spokespersons from all five political parties will attend a meeting to outline their respective arts policies and answer your questions. In the other city venues prospective T.D.’s  from their respective constituencies will attend.

The National Campaign for the Arts website has further details on these events and also on their other projects and find out how to further support this group who are supporting arts workers and arts jobs nationwide.  Visit the website here: www.ncfa.ie

If you cannot make the hustings then when canvassers come to your front door, and they will come! The NCFA lists the following questions to challenge them with:

  • Does your party have a policy for the arts?
  • What do you believe are important values for a healthy and flourishing society?
  • What values would you bring to Government that would make a difference?
  • Does your party recognize the vital and valuable contribution the arts and creative industries could make to our national economic and social recovery?
  • Will your party invest in the arts?

The lead-up to February 25th polling day will be a vital period for ensuring the voice of the Arts community is heard and recognised. Be informed and be heard!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Culture

 

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