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Galway, Well, It Loves Theatre!

Nuns Island Theatre - Galway Loves Theatre

For the next two weeks, Nun’s Island Theatre will be taken over of near non-stop action. With four performances a day those who are caught up in Arts Festival fever will have ample choice to pick from. Groups such as Mephisto Theatre Company, Galway Youth Theatre and Vagabond Theatre Company, among others, are staging a series of works that range from the comedic, the political, the ridiculous to the deadly serious. The programme of events is directed by Páraic Breathnach.

Highlights include Mephisto Theatre’s Grenades which starred in Galway earlier this year at the Cùirt International Festival of Literature. A dark but engaging account of life in the North during the Troubles, Tara McEvitt’s play is brilliantly written and delivers a sincere and astute performance from its actor Emma O’Grady. In 2010 McKevitt won the RTE PJ O’Connor Award for the radio version of ‘Grenades’ and in June 2011 won a Gold Award at the New York Festivals Radio Awards. Tara is a participant on The Abbey Theatre’s New Playwrights Programme 2011/12. Grenades has been touring Ireland for the past few months and is a great opportunity to see this play on its return to Galway.

Love and Money written by Dennis Kelly is staged by Galway Youth Theatre/Galway Arts Festival. I saw a production of this play in 2008 at the Project Arts Centre by Hatch Theatre Company and seldom has a play stuck in my mind all this time later. The play examines the wreckage lives and relationships are left in when materialism and a culture of greed pervades society and the minds of people that live and interact with each other. A couple struggle in the face of debt to the point where suicide is felt to be the only option as an exit strategy. The play follows the lives of this stricken couple in a reverse and at times askew timeline that runs from debt, death, affairs to love, greed and materialism. In early 2008 this play was eerily resonant in face of what would happen economically in the coming months. Its selection here for inclusion in ‘Galway Loves Theatre’ is an excellent choice and an intimate reminder of where we were and how we were during Celtic Tiger Ireland in comparison to todays more ‘stringent’ times. This will be one to catch. Here is a clip from rehearsal of the production at the Project Arts Centre starring Barry Ward, Kate Ni Chonaonaigh and Will Irvine.

In keeping with current trends there appears to be a nationwide Friel season happening. With works by the great Lovers performed by Galway Youth Theatre. Written in 1967 Lovers consists of two self-contained mini-plays, one being Winners and the second being Losers. Following the lives of two couples and the social expectations and moral examination inflicted on them by neighbours and families, Friel presents their experiences through issues such as unmarried parenthood, Catholicism and family expectations, this is a good chance to see one of Friel’s lesser known works.

The joyously riotous Who Needs Enemies written by Conor Montague and brought crashing onto the stage by Vagabond Theatre Company. Described as a satire on Ireland in love with hedonism. Previously staged at the Bulmers Galway Comedy Festival and at the Body and Soul Music and Arts Festival, the play follows Eoin who returns to Galway following an enlightening trip to the Himalayan wilderness. Now detached from his previously destructive lifestyle, it is up to his beloved friends who chip away at his new-found serenity and drag him back to the dark side of drink, drugs and unregulated mayhem. Here is a clip of a typically ‘restrained’ scene from Who Needs Enemies:

These are of course just a flavour of what Galway Loves Theatre has to offer. There is plenty to satisfy all tastes and with tickets ranging from 12/14 euro, it is certainly at the more affordable end of theatre tickets these days. Performances are Monday to Friday 11th – 16th July and 18th – 23rd July and are at 1pm, 5pm, 8pm and 10pm and there are variances in productions between these weeks so check the programme for full details of performances and tickets. http://www.galwaylovestheatre.com/home#

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Theatre

 

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The Memory Palace at Galway’s Theatre Festival

'Memory Palace' at Nuns Island theatre

Blue Patch productions staged their work-in-progress piece, The Memory Palace, as part of the third annual Galway Theatre Festival. Using characters and stories from Greek mythology, the playwright Jane Madden strives to explore the realms of our memory, our identity and the uncharted regions of our psyche. When we die we cross into the Underworld and are given a choice; to drink from the river Lethe and forget all our pain or to drink from the river Mnemsoyne and remember everything. Lottie chooses to remember but at what cost?

The black-box setting of Nuns Island theatre aptly mimics the purgatorial scene between memory and between realities. Aoife Connolly, who plays Lottie, the woman who is lost in time and place, is still and frozen, like a seated sphinx. “You are here”, she half acknowledges, half questions Mimi. “I was always here, since before” This exchange places the emphasis on what has already transpired, past actions that are beyond recollection by Lottie.

As she drinks the water of the river Mnemsoyne and memory becomes reticent, there is purpose to the goading of Andy Crowe’s Mimi, in forcing Lottie to remember, regardless of the pain this will bring. The past and thoughts, the working of Lottie’s mind are relayed on the screen projected behind the character, a blurred sequence of images that hint at what transpired. The imagery of the clothes force the realization of a ruined wedding, a distorted union; “My dress, his suit, his tie, that he wore for me”.

Aisling Quinn’s beautiful vocals and the staggered entrance on-stage of Andrea Scott forces a flashback like effect which presents a separate possibility; that the happy ending and wedding of Lottie is not her memory at all, but that of Scott’s character, Faye, who married the love and groom of Lottie. These overlapping lives and concentric stories blur the narrative and question who in fact owns the story.

Bluepatch’s production is extremely interesting and current. It has traces of works that trace the female reawakening to a lost and broken past, as Olwen Fouere hauntingly did is Sodome My Love and it also has parallels with works with other exciting groups such as The Company who explore the identity and memory of the modern form.

It is ironic that as a memory play, what Madden chooses to leave out and chooses to forget provides more of the story than we actually see.

www.bluepatchproductions.com

 

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2010 in Culture, Theatre

 

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