Arts Column with Conor Malone



It’s a bit quiet this week to be honest. It’s sort of the post summer pre autumn season lull where everybody seems to be really busy getting their new season together but there doesn’t seem to be that much actually happening.

Disco Inferno is at The Balor for another three nights until Saturday. Galatea, which was at The Alley in Strabane last week, makes the trip to The Playhouse in Derry tonight nad tomorrow night but apart from that...there’s a Tattoo Convention at The Millennium Forum which I suppose fits under a broad definition of art. Otherwise, it’s sort of tumbleweed.

Arlo Guthrie

I normally don’t write about gigs that are three weeks in advance but a) there doesn’t seem to be a wile lot on to be writing about this week but b) and more importantly, if I leave it til the week of the gig to write about Arlo Guthrie at Mcgrory’s it will, in all likelihood, be sold out.

Arlo is, of course, the son of the great Woody Guthrie and a renowned folk singer in his own right. He’s perhaps best known for the marathon Alice’s Restaurant. The famous talking blues protest song is 18 minutes and 34 seconds in length – that’s the recorded version, Arlo has been known to spin out live versions of up to 45 minutes plus in concert.

I had the pleasure of seeing Arlo in McGrory’s a couple of years back and it was a great gig. He’s one of those performers whose anecdotes between songs are just as entertaining as the songs themselves. When you consider his heritage and lineage, he’s a walking, talking annal of US folk music history. Arlo returns to The Backroom in McGrory’s in Culdaff on Saturday September 15. The McGrory’s website still has a bit of under construction look about it so I’m not 100% sure re start times and prices so give them a call at 074 93 79104. I’d do it for you and include it in the column like a proper professional but I’m typing this at a really unsociable hour and I don’t think they’d appreciate the call.

A Trio Of Local Theatre

By the time this week’s Democrat hits the news stands, we’ll be halfway through the run of the teenage musical Disco Inferno at The Balor. The summer musical is now something of an annual event – this is now the fourth year running that director Gordon Lucas and musical director Tanya Ward have taken their teenage charges under their wing. I’m writing this before opening night so I only have the rehearsals I’ve seen to go on but I think it’s safe to say that it’s going to at least match and quite possibly exceed the lofty standards of previous years. And again, it’s great to see so many (Disco Inferno have a cast and crew of over 30) mainly teenagers devote so much of their free time voluntarily towards rehearsing and performing the show. It’s evident that they have a great time doing it.

,Disco Inferno is just one a trio of great local plays that we have coming up. Next week we have the pleasure of staging the Irish premiere of the hit Australian comedy Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls. It’s a Balor Reps production in association with The Donegal Bay & Bluestacks Festival, so you can also expect to see it doing a couple of dates throughout the county at the end of September. It’s a bittersweet comedy with razor sharp dialogue and shades of Thelma and Louise (minus the Grand Canyon) as submissive housewife Vicki and brash, lusty barmaid Rae strike up an unlikely friendship through their shared love of country music. So it’s got a soundtrack featuring Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Tammy Wynette thrown in for good measure.

Last, but most certainly not least, is the multi award winning (and by multi I mean multi – an unprecedented 55 awards on the amateur drama circuit including the All Ireland Confined and Ulster Drama Festival awards) The Thirty Nine Steps courtesy of the Letterkenny Music & Drama Group. It’s a brilliant roller coaster stage adaptation of the class Hitchcock film noir delivered with West End calibre performances and production values. The group can’t possibly have the rights for this for much longer and I know they’re already preparing for their next production so this could bery well be your last chance to see this phenomenal production in Donegal.

Disco Inferno is on now and runs for another three nights – until Saturday. Admission is €12 for adults, €8 for students and €30 for a family of four. Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls has a two night run – Thursday, August 30 and Friday, August 31 (tickets €12/€10 concession) while The Thirty Nine Steps plays for one night only Thursday September 6, with tickets costing €12. Further info and bookings from the Balor Box Office on 074 913 1840.

A Dramatic September at An Grianan

An Grianan are in the process of finalising their autumn season and a quick look ahead at a couple of their September events shows some promising upcoming drama – both local and national.

The highlight of their autumn drama season is undoubtedly the visit of The Abbey with Sean O’Casey’s the Plough and the Stars. Heartbreaking, disturbing and funny, O’ Casey’s masterpiece tells the story of Jack and Nora Clitheroe who live in a tenement house through the historic events of 1916. One hundred years later with the nation once again in the throes of crisis, the themes of individual principles and the ideals of the Republic are still very much relevant.

The Plough and The Stars runs at An Grianan from Tuesday, September 25 to Saturday, September 29 at 8pm nightly, with an additional matinee showing at 2pm on the Saturday. Tickets are priced at €25 for the evening shows and €20 for the Saturday afternoon show.

Another classic play from the Irish canon – John B Keane’s The Field will be performed at An Grianan by the Letterkenny Panto Society from Wednesday, September 12t to Saturday, September 15.

It’s a classic tale about the Irish and their love of land and the mightly Bull McCabe – who loses the plot figuratively and literally when the land he’s rented for years is to be auctioned – is one of the great enduring characters of Irish theatre.

Tickets for The Field are €15, €10 concession and €25 for a pair – ring An Grianan on 074 912 0777 for further details.