ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

WATCH: Spectacular aerial dance show inspired by Donegal bingo hall

Bingo Wings is suitable for everyone from eight to 98 years old

Staff Reporter

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

Email:

editorial@donegaldemocrat.com

A spectacular aerial dance show inspired by memories of a Donegal Bingo hall is being performed at An Grianán Theatre this weekend.

Ireland’s leading circus company Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre will present the world première of their latest show Bingo Wings.

Bingo Wings is a ripping yarn about love, luck and bingo that takes you on a flight of fantasy. The masters of aerial spectacle present this stunning new show suitable for everyone from eight to 98 years old.

Bingo Wings is set in 1974, where bingo fever has hit the town of Ballydawn, and everyone is dreaming of scooping the huge Snowball jackpot. But when star-crossed lovers Jimmy and Moya try to rig the game, fate, family and a giant storm get in the way. Will destiny keep them apart, or will their lucky number finally come up?  Bingo Wings is a story about luck and love that takes you on a flight of fantasy that’s funny, moving and spectacular.

This exciting new Fidget Feet production, blending circus, aerial dance and theatre, is delivered by an award-winning team including director Jo Mangan, Donegal choreographer Chantal McCormick, playwright Tom Swift and composer Jym Daly.

As part of this professional performance, The Bingo Wings Project links the local community to the show, with the aim to bring younger and older people together through circus and bingo, to promote ageing well and health and wellbeing.

English circus artist, Steph Townsend, moved to Letterkenny in the middle of September to work on the project. She has been visiting various day care centres, community and youth groups, teaching them circus skills. Open Days are currently being held in the An Grianán Theatre on Sundays from 4.30-7pm where the public have been coming to try circus tricks, play bingo, drink tea and meet new people.

The Bingo Wings Project is made possible by lead partners Limerick City and County Council, with Kerry County Council and Donegal County Council, funded through the Arts Council’s Invitation to Collaboration Scheme.

Fidget Feet have been wowing audiences for 21 years, with their indoor and outdoor aerial circus acrobatics. 

Childhood memories of going to the bingo

Bingo Wings’ choreographer Chantal co-founded Fidget Feet and the Irish Aerial Creation Centre with composer Jym, her husband. She said making this show has been a dream come true for her, celebrating her fond memories of her grandparents in Donegal:

“The Bingo Wings Project and show, has been a dream of mine for about eight years, to find partners and funding in Ireland to make large scale aerial work is difficult, so I had to be patient but driven, I had to believe in the idea and make it happen. I am so thrilled to finally be able to share this show with all of you. The idea for the show came from my childhood memory of going to the bingo with my Granny Peggy McCormick and my granddad the local postman Patsy McCormick, he would call out the bingo in Castlefin hall in Donegal and from age of 6 years I was my granny’s lucky charm, she would buy the bingo cards and when I got old enough I got to play and I used to win a lot, as did granny! Granny was my first business mentor, if I won she would take a percentage of the winnings, “well she did pay for the bingo card, so fair is fair!” I have a very warm feeling thinking of these memories and how special it was to be there and spending quality time with my granny while watching proudly as my granddad being a celebrity calling out the numbers. This show is made in memory of Peggy and Patsy McCormick who I still love and cherish and for all the grandparents and grandchildren in the audience. We’re delighted to finally be able to bring this show home and involve the community.”

Composer Jym says: 'It's been an interesting challenge to dive into the music of the 60's and 70's and bring back not just some historical nuggets but create a pallet altered and flavoured by memory to suit the quirky world of Bingo Wings.

Twenty years of An Grianán

An Grianán Theatre’s Director Patricia McBride speaks of the significance of Fidget Feet performing at the venue this year: "On October 16, 1999 An Grianán Theatre held it’s first-ever show, and now 20 years on it’s very fitting that Fidget Feet will be the company to perform on An Grianán's stage marking that anniversary. Fidget Feet performed in An Grianan’s first ever season and have been ever-present in An Grianan’s programme since, reflecting both the quality of their work and An Grianán’s ongoing commitment to present the very best local and national performers. We’ve always been very proud watching how Chantal and Jim have grown Fidget Feet into the amazing company it is and look forward to 20 more years of collaboration with them! “

Award-winning playwright and founder member of The Performance Corporation Tom Swift is best known for his site-specific plays, written for locations as diverse as the sand dunes of the north Mayo coast and an abandoned sports arena in Washington DC. He has also written for opera and radio. Writing ‘Bingo Wings’ for Fidget Feet, Tom says: ‘It has been inspiring to work with Fidget Feet and their incredible performers for the first time. I've greatly enjoyed the challenge of collaborating on a show that combines the great storytelling tradition of theatre, with the spectacle and physical feats of aerial dance.’

Jo Mangan is Director of Carlow Arts Festival and Artistic Director of The Performance Corporation. Her recent work includes; Curator of the Ireland exhibition for the Prague Quadrennial Design Exhibition through the creation of a Virtual Reality film, performances presented at the Vancouver Art Gallery, a national tour of The Dead - a new Opera, and Expedition in Dublin Theatre Festival. Her work has won plaudits and awards internationally and nationally including a number of Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards comprising Best Director and Best Production nominations. Jo said the experience of directing people in the air instead of on the stage has been thrilling: "I had no idea how earth bound my ideas were until beginning to work with the most skilful aerial artists that the opportunity to direct Bingo Wings has afforded me. Being able to actualise writer Tom Swift’s ideas in the air has been thrilling. For example working with the troupe, responding to the prompt of ‘an MGM Fantasy’ - by asking if there is a way to throw someone up in the air, catch them and float them down on a stair of feathers, and the answer being yes....what better director fantasy vehicle is possible?"

Fidget Feet are winner of the Arts and Culture category in the West region for The National Lottery Good Causes Awards, winners will be announced on November 2nd in Dublin.

Bingo Wings the show comes to An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, Friday, October 18 at 8pm and Saturday, October 19 at 3pm.  Tickets: €15/€10/€8*. *Special group rate for community groups part of The Bingo Wings Project, call box office to avail. Info: 074 9120777 www.angrianan.com  

 The remaining Open Day takes place in the An Grianan Theatre, Sunday 13th October 4.30 to 7pm and all are welcome to attend. For more information see www.fidgetfeet.com.