Gay at Christmas

December 30, 2010

Last week’s Queer Notions festival at the Project Arts Centre was creative, challenging, and showed how far gay theatre in Ireland has come, writes Caomhan Keane

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We Irish are a proud lot. We can be found in the four corners of the globe, draped in our tricolors, belting out the Fields of Athenry and swelling with pride at the thought of the nation we delight in. From the stands in Saipan to the front rows of the Eurovision song contest we will go to extraordinary lengths to voice our support for the boys in green be they of the footballing, artistic or any other variety. But one area we shy away from showing any affection towards is our language.

Purged from our national psyche by the English and beaten back in by the Christian Brothers 41.9% of the population said they spoke Irish to some extent in the most recent census. But only 10% of those were fluent speakers, two per cent  of whom spoke it as a first language. There’s been an attempt to sex it up with the arrival of the Sheoiges and Sean Og O Halpin on our screens as well as several shows that looked at the challenges of learning or speaking the thing(In the Name of the Fada, No Bearla). But the scars left by Peig Sears and the modh coinníollach run deep and it regularly finds itself on the defensive from those who want to cut the funding set aside for its continued survival.

But despite talk of its less than robust health(which dates as far back as Daniel O Connel) the opposite is perhaps more true. Irish language primary schools are attracting record numbers of children as their English language counterparts close while in 2007 it was recognised as an official language of the European Union creating work for translators both at home and abroad.

One person doing there bit to create awareness of the possibilities that await Irish speakers is Raj Khan(27) , a native of Bangladesh, who is literally getting on his bike to spread the word on the benifits of having “the cupla fochail”. On November 17th he’s starting out on a three week cycle tour of Irish universities spreading awareness of the opertunities that are out there for people with a profieciency in the language as well as promoting his-and his chief sponsars Foras na Gaeilge’s- vision for its future.

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Arcadia Review

December 18, 2010

Past and present, truth’s and falsehood’s glide across the stage in Patrick Masons production of Tom Stoppard’s hotchpotch drama Arcadia,
revived at the Gate Theatre for the first time since 1999. Exploring chaos theory, landscape gardening ,entropy and  thermodynamics between
the sometimes chaste often highly sexed actions of its characters this aesthetically pleasing production provides much food for thought and
some decorous performances. But while Stoppard stimulates us intellectually the whole piece seems caught between the tragic and the
comic, between the head and the heart, a ruminative nights theatre but not a paticularly passionalte one.
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Wayne Jordan Interview

December 7, 2010

When it comes to attracting crowds to his latest production Ellamenope Jones, which runs at the Project Arts Centre from the 30th of November till December 11th, director Wayne Jordan has no shortage of nuggets to lure in your typical musical audience. A piece of theatre with songs, it’s about five women in a reduced and fantastical version of suburban Dublin who get involved in a pyramid scheme that ruins their lives. A Gothic pop parable, Ellamenope Jones is an all-singing, all-dancing lady entrepreneur. A vicious and avaricious businesswoman, a diva from the gutter who’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants, Jordan describes the project as Kill Bill meets Jesus Christ Superstar and, while there is no murders committed on stage, there’s a bang of Catherine Nevin off our Femme Fatal, who is the product of a chic lit novel gone a wry. Here the director, who along with Tom Creed has made the biggest directorial impact on the Irish stage in the past 12 months, tells Totally Dublin about his story of greed and desperation.

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I feel like I’ve missed the boat when it comes to Corn Exchange’s Freefall, currently being revived at the Abbey Theatre. 14 months after its first run at the Project Arts Centre it’s not that it has dated. In fact, given that it deals with personal, physical and fiscal decline its more relevant than ever. But watching a company who have been reassembled since going off to work on other things is a very different experience to watching one that has spent over a year devising and eight solid weeks rehearsing a piece before feeding off its ravenous reception. That being said virgin eyes will still find Freefall a wonderful, well thought out piece of theatre that is at times cinematic, often unusual but always challenging and involving. It just might not shimmer the way you’d hoped.

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It would appear that Willie White has decided to dip the Project Arts Centre in KY and throw it to the gays for Christmas, ending this heinous fiscal year with a musical and a specified festival that has the pink pound clearly in their sights. If the content of the Queer Notions festival is a quarter as amusing, as innovative or as enjoyable as Randolf SD’s Ellamenope Jones then this truly is the season to be jolly.

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