Monthly Archives: October 2011

Spotlight on Galway for Theatre Festival 2011

Galway Theatre Festival. Image by Paddy D'Arcy

The Irish theatre spotlight falls fully on the West this week as the Galway Theatre Festival has just kicked off. Already with an opening day with sell-out productions under its belt and with many more to follow, Barry Houlihan talks to Director of the Galway Theatre Festival, Ròisìn Stack to discuss the growth of the Festival and what the audience can expect from this festival feast.

Galway native Ròisìn Stack has been associated with the Festival since her days as a performer with Fregoli theatre group in the inaugural festival. Now, as Festival Director, Stack has, since she came on board in 2009, worked and overseen the expansion of the Galway Theatre Festival. The Galway Theatre Festival started in 2008 and featured four days back-to-back of shows in Nun’s Island. In the second year, the Festival expanded into the Town-Hall studio and produced a five day Festival run and has expanded every year since.

To get a festival of this size and variety moving and with momentum, the idea of a festival ‘by the people and for the people’ is very much key to the ethos and spirit of the Festival.

To read the full interview with Ròisìn Stack on click here.


Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Theatre


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Bluepatch Productions: Talking Theatre with Artistic Director Aoife Connolly

Aoife Connolly

Bluepatch Productions staged one of the hits of the 2010 Galway Theatre Festival with their play Memory Palace. Now, with the Festival once again upon us, Artistic Director of Bluepatch Productions, Aoife Connolly, meets with Barry Houlihan to discuss their new work and their aims and focus as a company.

Rushing from an evening rehearsal session to make this interview you can tell Aoife Connolly is in full Theatre Festival mode. For this year’s Festival, Bluepatch Productions are staging their latest work Chasing Butterflies. This will be staged in collaboration with Dragonfly Theatre, In the Garden. As Artistic Director of Bluepatch, Connolly outlines how the company came about and in what direction their hopes and aims are focused.

“Bluepatch started as an idea during my M.A. in Theatre Directing in U.C.D., but starting my own company was always part of the plan to be honest. I was a working actress before I decided to undertake the M.A. and before deciding to focus on directing.  I had always felt I was missing out on something or not contributing enough to the creative process. Becoming a director allowed me that opportunity to shape and create my own work.”

To read the rest of this interview on click here


Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Theatre


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“The Brothers’ Lot” – a novel by Kevin Holohan

“For all the kids who never got a chance to answer back” reads the dedication in The Brothers’ Lot, the debut novel from Kevin Holohan.

Set in Dublin sometime during the 1950’s or 1960’s, this was a time when Ireland and its social, moral and physical attributes were not so much guided as forcefully pushed into being by the byword of the Catholic Church. Constitutionally and personally, those in charge handed the most vulnerable and needy of children into hands that were most certainly unqualified to care for them. Such was the life for the children-turned-inmates for the school for “young boys of meagre means” run by the Brothers of Godly Coercion and housed at the dead-end of Greater Little Werburgh Street, North.

Holohan’s depiction of life behind the walls and fences in this school is devastating while also darkly comic. It is a world of tally sticks, novenas, Latin grammar and rote-learned lessons doled out to the children via the leather strap, a fist or a boot as much as they are through the considered teachings of the Brothers. At times it can read with shades of Mannix Flynn, Frank McCourt or Flann O’Brian. It is no direct memoir, but still a fictional account of a world all too familiar to those who were schooled in Ireland at this time.

The Brothers range from those who are closet alcoholics, to those who are more blatant sadomasochistic and to others who disturbingly eat the very words of profanity they ripped from books in a sort of act of cleansing and also censorship. Always the threat of violence and also abuse hangs over the school, never more evidently than when Brother Moody arrives and takes up a post, having come from a post in DrumGloom IndustrialSchool.

The imagery skilfully wrought out by Holohan echoes so much of how Church teaching – and misinterpretation of this teaching, coupled with inefficient monitoring from State bodies allowed such systems to remain in place in these schools and also residential schools. The school building itself is a crumbling wreck, symbolic for the Catholic Church as a whole, left without maintenance it has fallen to rack and ruin – physically, spiritually and morally. As was declared toSt.Peter: “Upon this rock I shall build my church” – On Greater Little Werburgh Street, North, this ‘rock’ was condemned before the school was even built. The band of workmen who came to ‘inspect’ the property were ran-off the premises in a frantic panic by the Brothers in case they prevented the school from cashing-in on ‘miraculous events’ and other interventions by the spirit of the order’s founding Brother; the Venerable Saorseach O’Rahilly.

Holohan’s prose is delicately arranged and he always in control of the tone and level of anger expressed. The book is no anti-clerical rant and Holohan never allows to be a personal crusade but rather an expression of the mood of the nation in trying to grasp an understanding of what happened to so many of the country’s youngest citizens.

Saying all this, the Brothers’ Lot is also genuinely hilarious in parts. Holohan’s characters, from the children to the exasperated janitor do highlight that humour and wittiness of the soul is not so easily extinguished. Finbarr, the Cork boy who moves to Dublin to this alien world with his family is, often like the reader, looking at life inside such schools for the first time. Holohan also highlights a touching reference to those girls who also suffered in residential laundries and I believe readers of all ages will take much away from reading this story. The Brothers’ Lot is a delightful book that will raise laughs, tears and grimaces from readers, and all in quick succession. It was submitted for the Guardian First Fiction Award and is published in paperback by No Exit Press.

There is an interview with Kevin Holohan on here and there also copies of The Brothers’ Lot up for grabs.


Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Books


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Walking with Magdalens – “Laundry” at the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Laundry - Anu Productions

Laundry is the latest site-specific work from Anù Productions and features as part of this year’s Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. Barry Houlihan witnessed this historic play that takes place behind the doors of Dublin’s Magdalen Laundry.

‘Sanctus’. The word is cast in elegant stained glass over a doorway that leads to the inner chapel of the Magdalen Laundry on Seam McDermott Street. The ‘Santcus’ is a song of praise to God and to his angels that in the order of the mass is sung  just prior to the consecration – the act of true faith in the mass. For the thousands of women who walked under this word every morning and evening of their lives spent in the Magdalen Laundry, it offered little respite or comfort.

Laundry is the latest work by Dublin based theatre company Anù Productions. Formed as recently as 2009, the company has quickly proven to be a phenomenon of Irish theatre; staging radically powerful works while specialising in site-specific areas.  While far from a being a ‘play’, this performance is testimony to the stolen childhoods and stolen lives of the ‘Maggies’ who were forced to endure life inside the walls.

To read this review in full from please click here

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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Culture, Theatre


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