Category Archives: Theatre

A Closer Look – Drawing Dublin’s Theatres

When you walk past a theatre do you ever stop and take a moment and really look at the building? Is there a particular way a theatre should look? If there were no signage would you instantly know you are outside a theatre? It is an interesting question. Perhaps to truly get a sense of what the facades of Dublin’s theatres form and represent you have to create your own images of these buildings. That is exactly what Kate Brangan did.

“I am a graphic designer and illustrator from Dublin. The theatre drawings were undertaken for a self directed project I did last year. I have worked in the design industry in Dublin for three years and when my most recent job ended last year after the company I worked for went in to liquidation, I found myself looking for work. A three month freelance contact with the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival was advertised and the idea blossomed from there”. Abbey_pic“I was aware that the role was a coveted one I wanted to apply to the position with a unique CV, so I decided I would draw each of the theatres listed on their website (16 in total) and create a booklet that would also display the drawings. Motivated by the deadline that the Festival applications had to be in by, I took a rare sunny evening out last June and cycled a full circle of the city, visiting 13 of the 16 theatres. (I visited the remaining three at different times as they were in the suburbs.) I spent a bit of time at each theatre, taking photos from all angles before cycling on to the next.”

“The reason I mention this at all it that I really want to share what an amazing and enjoyable way it was to spend an evening in Dublin. I have lived here all my life but never before have a reason for such a diverse journey around the city in a concentrated amount of time and one which also forced me to take a proper look at this range of buildings in such a small space. Cycling down through Gardiner Street from The O’Reilly Theatre, to then find myself in the grounds of Trinity taking in the beautiful structure of the Samuel Beckett Theatre within the same 30 minutes was a really refreshing experience! It made me look at my city in a whole new light and this is in turn made me really enjoy and love doing the drawings all the more.”

Talking with Kate there is an obvious sense of an artistic quality and appreciation for the aesthetic qualities of these theatre buildings. Brangan openly admits she has not had a life-long relationship with theatre but explains how the experience opened up some of the spirit and atmosphere that is unique to each theatre space. “I just think it is quite funny how things work out because at the time I considered it (getting the advertised job) crucial and was devastated when I didn’t get it, but the process that got me there, doing the drawings, making the booklet etc. turned out to be much more beneficial in the end. I decided I enjoyed it so much and was pleased with the outcome that I decided I did not want to leave it there. In order to remove the association of the drawings from my failed attempt to get the job, I decided to add in two extra theatres, that were not on the original Festival list, which are in fact my two personal favourites, The Grand Canal Theatre and The Olympia Theatre and from there made up a batch of booklets which I brought down to the Winding Stair Bookshop on Ormond Quay and also to ‘Article’ in the Powerscourt Centre and the booklets of drawings sold out completely.”

“I did surprise myself by realising just how much I enjoyed taking in all the varied detail that the theatres possessed. It would excite me when I arrived at each theatre to find it was in complete contrast to the one I just left, the repetitive horizontal brick work of O’Reilly, the vertical slats of Samuel Beckett, the grand structure of Newman House compared to the humble townhouse on Pearse Street, also to then have so much brickwork involved in the city based theatres compared to the modern structures and angles of the suburban ones. It was just so interesting to be able to pack so much detail into such a small publication. Each theatre has their own unique history and story, and what I think I really love about them is that this is something that is almost unique to theatres. They are all included in the booklet under this umbrella term of theatres but each building is so unique and a stand-alone structure in itself.”

To view the images from Eighteen Theatres please visit Kate Brangan’s website by clicking here

Contact and order details for work by Kate Brangan can also be seen on her website

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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Abbey Theatre, Theatre


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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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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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Tale of the Tape with Aonghus Òg McAnally

Fight Night, a new one-man play written by Gavin Kostick and produced by Rise Productions is currently on an 18-venue tour of Ireland. The play’s star Aonghus Òg McAnally talks to Barry Houlihan and on how Fight Night came to be, on shaping new work in Ireland and how for Dan Coyle Jnr, he faces the fight of his life.

What outlines someone as a boxer is much more than physical strength. As any follower of the sport will tell you, it is brains over brawn that counts. The cagier fighter will come out on top. Boxing is a solo sport, no one else to rely on in the ring, no one to back you up against the tide of force coming your way. On arriving at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre Aonghus Òg McAnally talks with Barry Houlihan and about the last year in the life of Dan Coyle Jnr and Fight Night.

To read this article in full please click here

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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Theatre


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Staging Society – Revolutionary Texts at the Absolut Fringe

For those who may have missed it, this post was published on last week in the run up to the ‘Revolutionary Texts’ series of readings and discussion at the Absolut Fringe Festival.

As part of this year’s Absolut Dublin Fringe Festival, a particular series of events is looking at plays that struck a chord with the political and social systems of their times.  The “Revolutionary Texts” series will feature readings of a series of Irish plays from the late 1980’s and 1990’s that are political and directly socially reflective in nature and which today are capable of provoking as much debate as they did when they received their first production.

The programming in the Absolut Fringe programme is right on the nerve of current trends of social discussion and investigation. This is, after all, now the Ireland where economists are the new house-hold names, top-of-the-bill speakers and best-selling authors. Morgan Kelly drew a sell-out crowd at the Kilkenny Arts Festival and Fintan O’Toole spoke to a packed and hushed Town Hall Theatre in Galway in November last year. David McWilliams toured his Outsiders from the Abbey Theatre to various theatres around the country.

For the rest of this article see the ‘Centre Stage’ section of here.

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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Theatre


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Something Borrowed, Something Blue. . .New Voices at the Abbey Theatre

Aideen Howard, Bryan Delaney and the New Playwrights programme group

If the stage of the Abbey Theatre is seen as the heart of the National theatre, then its Literary Department is very much the pulse. Tucked away on the upper floors of the Abbey Street theatre, the Literary Department is very much a haven for new writers, for new stories and for new voices. Aideen Howard, Literary Director, talks to Barry Houlihan and about the work of the Literary Department, about supporting new plays and new playwrights and about finding that new voice in Irish theatre.

For the rest of this interview from please click here

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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Abbey Theatre, Theatre


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