The Earagail Arts Festival kicks off this weekend and runs for three weeks this year. It’s a fabulous festival full of greats shows, fun events and hidden gems. Pick up a brochure, get on the net, you’ll find footage of most of the shows on youtube, this is a festival that really rewards those who do a little research!
Here’s my pick of the first week ...
The Golden Dragon.
It’s in English folks! And is set in your local Chinese takeaway. It’s on in An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny from Tuesday 10 to Thursday, July 12. In The Golden Dragon five actors play a variety of characters – some Asian cooks, a woman in a red dress who leaves her husband, two air stewardesses, the man who keeps the shop next door, a young woman whose boyfriend doesn’t want their baby – in a story for modern times that travels everywhere and nowhere.
Something very special here ... The Earagail Arts Festival is proud to welcome the renowned Shanghai Theatre Academy to Letterkenny’s An Grianán Theatre on July 8 and 9 for two performances of their latest touring production, Miss Julie. It’s in Chinese with English Surtitles. Miss Julie is a drama written in 1888 by August Strindberg and gained some notoriety in his native Sweden before hitting the underground theatres of Europe and the US. The original play dealt with class, love, lust, the battle of the sexes, and the interaction among them. The Beijing opera version sets the story in pre-modern China, translating the play’s social perspectives and the central theme of division to a traditional Chinese environment. On the eve of a traditional festival, villagers celebrate with lion dance. Julie, daughter of the wealthy landed gentry, who has just broken her engagement, is feeling agitated and out-of-sorts. On this rowdy festive night, with her father out of town, she is drawn to the lion dance, particularly to Jean, her father’s valet. Jean, after dancing with Miss Julie for a while, sneaks away to join his fiancée Kristin, the cook, in the kitchen. Tracking Jean down to the kitchen, an intoxicated Julie chastises him and sends Kristin away. When an unexpected rendezvous seems to present itself, Jean takes full advantage and leads Julie into his room. When they re-emerge from the room, their positions seem to have reversed. Jean orders Julie to take her father’s money and elope with him. Will Julie comply? Can she? Will Jean get what he wants?
The Feast of The Senses
For the second year running the Earagail Arts Festival will present a unique night of cabaret and cuisine on the opening night, July 7. The festival’s Feast Of The Senses, in association with food partners Rathmullan House, was a tremendous success last summer. The Feast will be held in the Festival Marquee which this year has moved to a brand new location, the picturesque grounds of Rockhill House on the outskirts of Letterkenny. The night will be filled with an exciting line-up such as duo Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson whose music is best described as ‘amped up old time blues with a Celtic twist’. Also performing on the night will be Los Angeles’ famous country rockers, I See Hawks in LA, who will be bringing the sound of the West Coast summer to the Irish North West. You will be treated to course supper, conjured and created by Rathmullan House, featuring all locally sourced great Donegal produce served on plates to share at your table. A truly unique night of cabaret and cuisine with music, dance, theatre and a little supper on the side, will be ingeniously sewn together by your Maitre D and host for the evening, the always entertaining Little John Nee.
Des Bishop this Friday night
There may well be a few tickets left for Des Bishop’s show on Friday night in an Grianan, check now by calling 074 91 20777. Des Bishop is back, he likes to bang the drums, and he’s not afraid to show it. Combining his love of hip hop, strong jokes, audience participation and a newfound passion for drumming, Des has fun with wordplay in his brand new stand-up show.
‘It’s going to be a bit silly, a bit musical, a bit improvised’ says Des. ‘The title comes from being given an electronic drum kit as a gift recently. I started messing around with it and ended up behind a set on stage. It went really well, so I’ve put together a comedy show with a bit of rhythm in it.’
Bishop’s famously warm, honest presenting style and restless imagination will be in evidence again, most recently seen in the worldwide success of his previous live show, My Dad Was Nearly James Bond. He has since released a book of the same name inspired by his experiences and RTE aired a TV documentary on the subject.