Arts Column with Conor Malone

The week that’s in it

The week that’s in it

It’s panto time at The Balor, Ballybofey and The Millennium Forum, Derry with Robinson Crusoe and Snow White and The Seven Dwarves playing the respective venues throughout the week. The Forum also have stand up comedy with David O Doherty this Friday and Frankie Boyle next Wednesday. Also at The Millennium, there’s The Rat Pack Christmas Special this Saturday.

Elsewhere, Field Day’s powerful Stephen Rae directed double bill Farewell and Half A Glass of Water continues its run at The Playhouse, Derry with the curtain falling for the final time this Saturday.

There’s Christmas music at An Grianan tomorrow with Christmas Crooners and Duke Special makes a highly anticipated return on Satruday while Letterkenny dance trop Dynamic Waves hold their Christmas showcase there on Sunday.

Clouds, Mists and Magic – a new photographic exhibition by Emer O Shea opens at The Abbey Centre, Ballyshannon this Saturday and runs for two weeks. Also on Saturday there’s a magical Christmas musical at the Alley Strabane with City Theatre Dublin’s Santa & the Snow Queen. Pupils of St Columba’s keep the Alley in a festive
mood with their Christmas Pageant which runs from next Monday to next Wednesday.

A Little Bit Special

Some of An Grianan Theatre Letterkenny’s more memorable music gigs have come courtesy of Peter Wilson, better known as Duke Special. It’s been a couple of years since he last played there, on May 2010 to be exact, so his return this Saturday is highly anticipated indeed.

He’s been performing under the name Duke Special since 2002 and has built up quite a large and dedicated fanbase. His piano based music and quirky theatrical live performances have won him much acclaim and admiration. He’s supported and toured with the likes of Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, The Beautiful South and The Divine Comedy, played at all the big festivals – Glastonbury, Electric Picnic, Oxegen, Live at The Marquee - and headlined his own show with The Ulster Orchestra at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. He’s even performed at BBCs Last Night Of The Proms.

Duke has enjoyed similar success with his recording. His first album, Adventures in Gramophone (2005), was nominated for a Choice Music Prize as was 2007’s Songs from the Deep Forest. His two subsequent albums, I Never Thought This Day Would Come, and an ambitious triple CD -The Stage, A Book & The Silver Screen - have been equally well received and his latest release, Oh Pioneer, reached no. 3 in the iTunes chart this July.

One of these performers who seems to find an extra gear live and with enough material that he could literally go on all night, Duke Special is one of those gigs that guarantees you your money’s worth. As an extra bonus, support comes courtesy of an acoustic set from local heroes In Their Thousands, fresh from winning the Guinness Hot Press 2Fm Play on the Day competiton.

Duke Special plays An Grianan this Saturday December 8 at 8pm. Tickets are €17.50 and are available from An Grianan box Office on 074 912 0777 or online at

The Alley Gets Christmassy

The Alley in Strabane gets in the Christmas spirit this week with a couple of shows to get you in the festive mood. First up is City Theatre Dublin’s Santa and The Snow Queen – a delightful Christmas musical written by Eurovision Song contest winner Shay Healy (writer of What’s Another Year among others) and directed by Michael Scott.

The Snow Queen has arrived at The North Pole. The big problem is that everyone she kisses falls under her magic spell and forgets about Christmas. Even worse, she’s just tricked Santa into kissing her! Santa needs your help to remember who he is and why children around the world are waiting for him on Christmas Eve.

It’s a delightful show full of comedy and music with lots of audience interaction and participation, sure to get you in the festive spirit.

Later on in the week, the pupils of St Columba’s take to the stage to perform their annual Christmas pageant. Local shows like this are what Christmas is all about really and for many pupils their first time on a public stage will be a memory that they will treasure for a long long time.

Santa and The Snow Queen is at The Alley this Saturday, December 8. Admission is from £7 sterling. St Columba’s Christmas pageant runs from Monday next to Wednesday next, tickets £5. Ring The Alley on 04871 384444 for times and booking info.

Clouds, Mists & Magic

Clouds, Mists & Magic is the title of a new photographic exhibition by Emer O Shea that opens at The Abbey Centre this Saturday. Featuring Emer’s photographs of the Northwest, it’s a show that’s ptly entitled indeed. Up here we’re guaranteed lots of cloud, quite a bit of mist and there’s always a little bit of magic too.

If you’re in the area either next Saturday for the launch or over the next two weeks pop in and have a look. If you like what you see pictures will be available for sale either as originals or as limited edition prints. Could make the ideal Christmas present for that awkward person that you never know what to buy for.

Speaking Of Which...

Speaking of Christmas presents, if you have to buy for someone who likes a little live entertainment in their lives I know that both An Grianan and The Balor do gift vouchers. I’m assuming that all the other major venues do to.

Or, if vouchers seem a little impersonal maybe buy a ticket for a specific gig coming up in 2013. Here at The Balor we have the likes of Jack L, Tommy Fleming and The Frank & Walters coming up in Jan/Feb 2013. A quick glance at An Grianan’s website sees the likes of Neil Delamere coming back to Letterkenny in February and Letterkenny Music & Drama Groups highly popular Calendar Girls also returns in February. That should make somebody happy.