Tag Archives: Dublin Fringe Festival

As You Are Now So Once Were We

Do you feel like you know Dublin? Really know it? Do you walk the same route along the same streets every day? Is your morning routine so rigid that it almost feels like you are repeating it, on loop, day in day out? Get up at the same time, go to the bathroom, eat breakfast at the same table with the same people and then go out the same door, together.

The Company

Are you in a routine so much that it feels like you are less in a real world and more in a rehearsal? This award winning work (Best Production, Absolut Fringe 2010) by the Company takes this ideas of ‘a day in the life’ and also taking inspiration from James Joyce’s Ulysses tracks the journey of each of the four characters from waking in the morning to their journey through Dublin City to the Peacock theatre where they must stage their new work, whatever that may be.

The Company members Rob, Tanya, Nyree and Brian play heightened characterised versions of themselves. The Peacock stage has seldom looked so open as Dublin City and its buildings and ‘box towers’ are represented by sweetly choreographed large cardboard boxes. The opening sequence where the ‘set-up’ of the stage is played out before you like a manic session of lego building.

The audience are taken on a virtual walking tour of Dublin, where streets, sights, smells and places are all name-checked. The concept of associating certain foods and smells with certain places in the city is reminiscent of scenes from Joyce’s book. The idea of ‘rehearsal’ is examined throughout the work as pieces are replayed, altered and replayed again. The story of Paddy Dignam is one such case. If time can be slowed, stalled and replayed, the question of intervention crops up, where all of us are in a social media-led, isolated bubble which leaves less time for actual human contact as simple as a hug as we concentrate more on virtual ‘poking’. The irony is not lost that as crowds pulse through the city streets as we are hell bent on getting from A to B without knowing what is actually around us.

As You Are Now So Once Were We. Image courtesy of the Abbey Theatre

The work is extremely humorous, the in-jokes and deliberate over-reacting, I thought, gave a particular aspect which I believe can easily be lost in a work of this form and that is a connection with the audience and a commitment to entertain and engage. I imagine it to be the only work at the national theatre to refer to its Artistic Director Fiach McConghail as ‘The F-Bomb!”

The influence and direction by Jose Miguel Jimenez, who was seated in the audience, plays no small part in the production as he strives to keep the whole concept of time – the moment and our place in that moment – fluid and on track. With As You Are Now… Jimenez has justified the much hype about his ideas and abilities. He, along with the Company, really have set Irish theatre ablaze with a new, exciting and unique brand of work.

What grated me somewhat were not the themes of the play, or its perhaps piggybacking-use and reference to Ulysses but actually what I heard and read from numerous others who saw this work. Yes, the Company are brash, yes, they are riding a huge wave of success and have big ideas and are experimenting with new forms that are not everyone’s ‘thing’ or within their comfort zone of theatre with a straight narrative. The Company are good, and they know it. But is this really a bad thing? It still means they are good! And when they are good, they are very good.

As You Once Were Now So Once Were We runs on the Peacock stage at the Abbey until 5 February.

Meet the members of the Company in conversation with theatre critic Peter Crawley at the Abbey, post-show, Wednesday 2 February.

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Posted by on January 29, 2011 in Abbey Theatre


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No Strings attched to Dublin’s cultural freebies

Forget shoe-string budgets! They were of a time when a discount here or a free event there were token gestures to attract a few souls to something that was often, lets face it, free for a ‘reason’. This reason being that ‘free’ sometimes meant ‘no good’. But now, shoe-string budgets for savvy savers are out and no-string budgets are in. If people and I include myself in this, are not able to shell out 30 euro on a theatre ticket, a minimum of 50 euro for a music gig at our ‘premier’ music venues or a month’s rent for a camping festival then no-string budgets are for you! And now there really are quality arts, music and cultural events for you to drop into and enjoy gratis.

The summer has seen regional and national festival after festival entertain the masses with exceptional success. From Galway to Kilkenny, Bundoran to Listowel and everywhere in between, Irish towns and cities have put on quite a show. As focus now switches back to the capital for the coming months, the pressure is on to deliver. The Absolut Fringe and Ulster Bank Theatre Festival are but two headiners to offer a wide variety of free and importantly, quality events.

The Fringe holds a particular place in the heart of so many theatre and performance goers. It has the essence of engagement and involvement in its soul and offers so much at no cost to the public. To see the full programme of ticketed and free events in the Fringe see here. One of the free highlights kicks off the Fringe itself with Macnas hitting Dublin for the first time in twelve years with what promises to be a spectacular event at Collins Barracks. Described as a ‘fantastical night-time reverie’, The Wild Hunt and the Sleepwalker – A Nocturnal Ballad’ will captivate audiences of all ages. 

The Liffey provides a floating stage as Irish contemporary artist Fergal McCarthy’s ‘Liffeytown’ mirrors the less than solid foundation of Ireland’s building boom. The Dead Zoo at Ireland’s Natural History Museum breaks from its home and roams in Merrion Square park. A great show for audiences of young and old, its large scale production should prove a winner.

On Dame Lane and Sycamore Street car lot (near the Gaiety School of Acting) keep an eye out for ‘Laneway’ and ‘The Bridal Solution’ respectively. These site specific works take the Fringe to its spiritual home of the Dublin’s streets and are just waiting for an audience to come and find them. Also waiting for you is, well, ‘Anybody Waitin’?’ Think life is passing you by as you constantly find yourself in a queue or waiting for someone or to get to some place. Ponydance company are waiting for you at 15 locations around Dublin to explore what it is exactly we are always waiting for, why we wait and what do we actually expect to get. Life is too short to let it pass you by so get out on the streets, get to the Fringe and experience it for Free!

The Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, often seen as the Fringe’s big brother or more serious uncle, also has much to offer those for whom the box-office is not their friend.  Numerous special events catch the eye for their content and production and not just their pocket-friendly price-tag. Check out the DTF programme in full here.

‘In Development’ includes a series of work-in-progress’ pieces from some of Ireland’s leading companies. Fishamble presents ‘Silent’ directed by Jim Culleton. Brokentalkers present ‘The Blue Boy’ directed by Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan. Richard Wakely presents ‘The Ministry of Deliverence’ written and directed by Conall Morrison (this should be particularly worth catching) and Corn Exchange present ‘Man of Valour’, developed by Michael West, Annie Ryan and Paul Reid.

If you fancy getting your voice and two-cents out there head along to the panel discussions being held at the Gaiety and Project Arts Centre.  Topics range from environmental and economic recovery, a New World Order in development and of real interest, the increasing emphasis on the role, presence and input of an audience into a production.

‘Drama in the Air’, ‘Yellow’, ‘The Wonderful World of Hugh Hughes’ respectively open up the New Theatre, St Mary’s Abbey (off Capal Street) and the Studio theatre in Smock Alley for extraordinary free works that include Thomas Kilroy, Olwen Foure, Deirdre Roycroft and a cast of many others.  Just think what you would normally pay to see and hear works by these greats?!

Forget what is or isn’t in your wallet. These are great opportunities to get out and about, get involved and to see great theatre, great works and all for free. Get out your map, your diary and pen and set course for as many of these events as you can.

O, and that’s before you even look at the programme for Culture Night, Heritage Week or Archives Awareness 2010! . . . . It’s going to be a busy few weeks!

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Posted by on August 26, 2010 in Culture, Theatre


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