The second week in this year’s action packed Earagail Arts Festival programme brings more theatre, comedy, dance, spoken word, visual arts and workshops on offer throughout the county. Highlights include Irish stage and screen legend Stephen Rea who is coming to this year’s festival to narrate Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman with original music by Colin Reid. This unique performance will be staged at Letterkenny’s An Grianán Theatre on Sunday, July 22 and will be one of the theatrical highlights of this year’s 24th festival.
The musical backbone is provided by Reid on piano and assembled strings, featuring Neil Martin (West Ocean String Quartet), Becky Joslin and Niamh Fitzpatrick.
The Third Policeman is a murder thriller and hilarious comic satire about an archetypal village police force, a surrealistic vision of eternity, the story of a tender brief unrequited love affair between a man and his bicycle, and a chilling fable of unending guilt. The hero of the story and narrator (Rea) is a nameless young man with a wooden leg, who assists in a money-motivated killing, and, after trying to retrieve the stashed goods some time later, passes into a strange otherness - a place that superficially resembles the Irish countryside, but which casually disobeys the normal laws of How Things Work.
He encounters a small building of impermanent and shifting geometry which turns out to be the local barracks - it is here that he meets the policemen.
Stephen Rea worked at Dublin’s renowned Abbey Theatre before co-founding Field Day Theatre in 1980. Hollywood took notice of him after his incredible performance in The Crying Game, when he played an IRA gunman who falls for the fiancée of his victim. He also starred in V for Vendetta and Interview with the Vampire. Despite his busy film schedule, he still performs on stage regularly. Belfast born and resident Colin Reid is a critically acclaimed musician who has performed all over the world both in his own right and with Brit Award-winning singer Eddi Reader. He launched his solo career in 1997 after supporting performances with other leading musicians such as Brian Kennedy and Waterson Carthy and has released three albums.
The festival features a lot of Spoken Word events that encourage lively discussion and debate about everything from arts to politics. One of the Spoken Word highlights will see the return of Dublin’s favourite political cabaret to the beautiful grounds of Rathmullan House on Sunday, July 22. Leviathan: Political Cabaret has been a regular debate and discussion event in Dublin since 2003 and is usually hosted by economist and broadcaster, David McWilliams. Leviathan returns to Rathmullan House for the festival, this time hosted by RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan with a panel including returned emigrant, businessman and political activist, Declan Ganley; Professor Mark Boyle (Department of Geography, NUI Maynooth) and other special guests.
Each Leviathan event also features entertainment in the form of specially-commissioned music, film and comedy performance as well as occasional literary and poetry readings. The festival’s Leviathan discussion, Wild Geese and Golden Eggs: The True Value of Ireland’s Diaspora, will examine the historical role played by Donegal’s and Ireland’s Diaspora and how the energy of the 60 million people who claim Irish descent can be harnessed to help the old country recover and thrive again.
Leviathan is not just politics, though. Conversations can and have covered a wide range of subject matter including economics, culture, society, business, religion, health, education, the environment, energy and international relations. Also taking place at Rathmullan House before the kick off of Leviathan will be Paddy Cullivan’s Summer Sunday. The Late Late Show band leader, comedian and satirist will present a lively fun show that mixes a light hearted look at the Sunday papers. There will be topical chat, a bit of music and some hilarious slideshows and videos including a specially-commissioned short film by Doris/Magee Productions created especially for the 2012 programme.
Illuminate the skies
The festival organisers are delighted to welcome illuminated processional spectacle company, Inishowen’s LUXe back this year. LUXe are national leaders in this beautiful art form, with the team of Mark Hill and Many Blinco having won numerous awards and commissions across Ireland and Europe. This year, they return with their spectacle event, Puja. They are Inishowen-based and are all set to yet again illuminate Fort Dunree near Buncrana for the second year, on Saturday next, July 21.
In the lead up to this closing weekend event, LUXe will present another event in Dunfanaghy in association with the festival. Immram is a class of Old Irish tales concerning a hero’s sea journey to the Otherworld and tells that in the time of Lir, adventurers bearing gifts and offerings travelled across seas from distant lands seeking truths and hoping to learn what the future held. It will be presented on Dunfanaghy’s Main Street on Wednesday, July 18 and is of course free of charge. On the closing weekend, LUXe will present Puja at Fort Dunree, Buncrana, on Saturday 21. Puja marks the culmination of the Immram journey by LUXe at the beautiful cliff-top location which will again be a wonderful sight for the festival’s last few days. It will be a sensory feast of processional sculpture, what LUXe are renowned for, aerial acrobatics, dancing fire, shadow play, illuminated installation and much more.
We Cut Corners
One of the most exciting pop duos to hit the Irish music scene over the past year, We Cut Corners are appearing at this year’s event. The Dublin band will appear at The Greenroom Live, Main Street, Letterkenny supported by In Their Thousands, on Friday, July 20. The Pop duo have been one of the most talked about Irish acts on the music scene for the past year and a half and their debut album was well received. ‘Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwards’ was released last year on The Delphi Label and was recorded with Jimmy Eadie (Jape, Valerie Francis) behind the mixing desk. John Duignan said: “First off Jimmy had worked with friends of ours, Mail Order Messiahs, and had made a really interesting record that really didn’t get the exposure it deserved when it was released. We really liked what he had done with that, the sonic palette that he was drawing from was something that we were really interested in. He seemed to take their songs in directions that we found really stimulating. We were lucky we got in touch with him, he had just moved into a new amazing studio. He came to one of our shows and liked what we were doing and agreed to work with us. We were very chuffed.”
The duo has been compared to many acts, but their sound is unique and their album has been described as ‘a marvellously noisy, melodic statement of intent’.
John said: “We tend to write separately and then just bring our separate parts to rehearsal and work through them there. There was no writing in the studio; everything was done before we got in there. It’s more individual, less jamming than other bands? I don’t know, I’ve no idea how other bands write. You have tussles over songs, trying to get your way and trying to get your opinion heard, I can imagine with a bigger band it would be all the more difficult. We just kind of write about frivolous stuff that we happen to be going through. I think if we tried anything else, it might seem a little contrived.”
Game, set...Love All
From the Wimbledon finals to the hangman’s noose, Love All an exciting play tells the incredible true life story of Ireland’s first ever Wimbledon finalist comes to this year’s festival for two shows tomorrow, Monday July 16 and Tuesday, 17. Presented by two young new Irish performers, Aideen Wylde and Tadhg Hickey, under the skilful direction of Donal Gallagher Love All will be staged at Dunfanaghy’s Holy Trinity Parish Hall and An Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny. This is the true(ish) and terrible tale of Irish sporting legend Vere St. Ledger Goold and his mercenary wife Marie Violet - an extraordinary globe-trotting journey from the heady heights of sporting stardom to complete catastrophe by CheeryWild Productions. CheeryWild is a partnership between Tadhg Hickey and fellow actress/writer Aideen Wylde. Tadhg said: “We’re Drama/Theatre graduates and since leaving college both of us have worked extensively in Irish theatre, TV and radio. We met around a year ago and found we’d something to go on - I had a fondness for scones, Aideen liked to bake them. Result! More importantly we shared a desire to be proactive about the work situation for actors/theatre people, believing that sitting around doing nothing was useless, no matter how good the scones were. We also shared an interest in creating theatre based on forgotten or hidden histories presented in a manner people could simply enjoy. A note in an early brainstorming session read, ‘none of that esoteric nonsense...bores me to tears’.”
Love All became their vehicle, Tadhg said: “At the beginning all we really had was each other. Initial rehearsals took place in parks. Undeterred, we soon realised that as well as each other we’d a great story that needed telling. Aideen’s initial interest in Tipperary native and Wimbledon champion, Lena Rice, led us to the tale of Waterford man, Vere Goold, Ireland’s first Wimbledon finalist (1879) and bright spark of the fashionable Victorian lawn tennis scene. Years later Goold and his wife, Marie Violet, found themselves embroiled in a murky world of gambling, alcoholism and murder. We had found what we were looking for.”
CheeryWild Productions have starched their whites, re-stretched their racquets and are ready to serve a virtuoso volley of Victorian melodrama. Love All delivers an hilarious, rapid-fire, homicidal train ride from passion to pandemonium.
Little Miss Sunshine meets My Left Foot
A unique theatrical experience that is part memoir, part theatre and part Stand Up and shouldn’t be missed will be at this year’s event. Fishamble: The New Play Company presents The Wheelchair on My Face, a look back at a myopic childhood written and performed by comedian and actor, Sony Kelly. Since spending one very memorable night in Carlow with Donegal’s own Little John Nee, Sonya has been ‘dying’ for an opportunity to perform in his native county.
She said: “I once spent a magical evening with the Little John Nee in a hotel bar in Carlow. Ukulele in hand, he talked and sang songs about growing up in the 1970s as the only punk in Donegal. We all sang along to the rousing chorus of, ‘Anarchy, anarchy, anarchy in the cheese factory...’. Ever since, I have been bursting to come and perform in the landscape that bore and inspired such wonderful artists as Little John.”
As her show will be staged twice at this year’s Earagail Arts Festival, July 19 in Letterkenny and July 20 in Ballybofey, Sonya said her dream is finally coming true.
“The wheelchair in the title refers to the enormously thick pair of glasses I had to wear as a child and all the social scrapes that came with them. The show is a comedy memoir of all the bumps and mishaps I got into as a myopic child.
“Indeed, I didn’t get glasses until the age of seven. And no, I was not a neglected child. This the early 1980s a time in Ireland you’ll remember, when the only internet we knew was two trawlers that got their lines tangled at sea. We were the East of the West. It was all a little bit pre perestroika in Ireland as we hung off the far edge of Europe. People were too busy battling unemployment to be Googling their children’s potential ailments. If you sat too close to Wanderly Wagon you were told you’d get square eyes. It is this world that The Wheelchair on My Face tries to recapture.”
The 24th annual Earagail Arts Festival is going to come to a close with a bang at the Greenroom on Letterkenny’s Main Street on Sunday next, July 22. To bring the festival to an end the organizers have lined up one of the hottest DJ duo’s from Glasgow’s famous club scene, who will be joined by one of Glasgow’s finest garage punk bands and to top it off a Dublin-based sythwave act. Up until two years ago, Optimo (the moniker of Glasgow DJs JD Twitch and JG Wilkes) took place every Sunday at Glasgow’s Sub Club. In its 14 years it had given debuts to household names such as Franz Ferdinand, The Rapture, Hot Chip and many more. After announcing the closure six weeks in advance, Keith McIvor (Twitch) and Jonnie Wilkes (Wilkes) ran the last events as a series of celebratory farewells, each frantically edging closer to the end of an era. As the final night drew nearer, the events grew progressively more intense – ultimately closing the book to Optimo’s indelible quest to invert perceived givens, bend the rules and open people’s ears to something new.
“It was such a phenomenal way to go out. It was the best atmosphere I have ever seen in my entire life. I just got sucked into the euphoria. There was so much love from everyone that came. At one point I had a lump in my throat but then it was such a frenzied night. It was so wild that I stopped thinking about it and, only in hindsight, after receiving messages, has it sunk in.”
Although the weekly event has gone, these world-renowned DJs still tour and bring some of the Sub Club flavour to other events. Joining them on the night will be Glasgow garage punk band The Rosy Crucifixion and Dublin sythwave act, Gretta Gunn for a fun-filled closing party of the Earagail Arts Festival at The Greenroom.fvv