Pursued by a Bear »

  • Win! Win! Win!

    October 30, 2009 @ 5:05 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Feeling competitive AND creative? Why, look no further! Because Some Blind Alleys is running a banner competition, with €500 up gor grabs. Meanwhile, the entry window is closing for this Fish Publishing competition, with a first prize of €3,000. Poets have a little longer to submit their entry for this , to be judged by poet James Harpur who has promised to read every single entry, masochist that he is. It’s already too late for this, however, though this hardy nation is being represented among the finalists by my namesake Colum McCann. The winner is being announced on Monday.


  • One Hundred Mornings

    October 29, 2009 @ 12:33 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Finally got to see Conor Horgan’s exceptional debut feature, One Hundred Mornings, last night. Though set in a post-apocalyptic Ireland, this subtle, intelligent film focuses on the human drama played out among its four central characters rather than the science fiction future of a Western world that has somehow fallen apart. Beautifully shot in muted, earthy colours, One Hundred Mornings is both harrowing and humorous, though the overarching tone is one of grim stoicism. Horgan elicits some fine performances from his tiny cast, and a cloying claustrophobia is expertly juxtaposed with a vast, surrounding emptiness. The film premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in July, but has yet to get a general release: in case it does, I won’t go into any further detail though I’d love to witter on about the joy of a new film talent and the finer points of the flick, but if it does, and you do get a chance to see it, then do. And you don’t have to take my word for it: here’s what yon Screenwriter Donald Clarke said about it.

  • Bums on seats and other poetics

    October 27, 2009 @ 1:14 pm | by Fiona McCann

    As Gate Theatre Manager Michael Colgan once told me, the most important thing about running a theatre is getting bums on seats, not just for financial reasons, but “for the unfortunate, vulnerable, naked, worrying, getting sick before a performance, nervous, knee-knocking performers”. Which is likely the impetus behind Take Your Seat, the new website offering free tickets and discounts to performances in a wide range of venues (the Abbey, the Everyman Palace Theatre, Cork, the Town Hall Theatre in Galway and the Linenhall Arts Centre, Co. Mayo are among those participating) to all who book through the site for a show taking place between November 9th and 14th. Basically, it’s a week-long arts and performance promotion co-ordinated by Arts Audiences and provding a decent database of what’s on where for those in search of an evening’s entertainment. There’s anything from Ibsen to Oliver! (exclamation mark essential): I’d love to know how it works for folk and if anyone has scored free tickets that way. Send us your comments. And maybe let me know what it takes to get your bum on a theatre seat these days: do you read reviews? Does a particular actor / director / playwright impel you towards the box office? Who’s going to the theatre in these trying recessionary times, and why?

    In the meantime, the shortlist for the TS Eliot prize is out and by my reckoning, there are two Irish poets on the list.


  • Some blind alleys are worth a diversion

    October 16, 2009 @ 8:52 am | by Fiona McCann

    I’m away on me holiers, so won’t be posting for a week or so, and I’m fierce glad about it, except for the fact that it means I miss the launch of Some Blind Alleys by Booker-winner Anne Enright tonight (strange how you only have to win that prize once to earn yourself the eternal hyphenated modifier). Too bad I won’t be there to hear her announce the winner of its inaugural writing competition, but  anyone looking for some good reading in the interim should check out the site. In the meantime, I leave you with David Turpin’s new video. Yes, him again. Enjoy.

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  • Dublin to Gaza: One concert, two cities

    October 15, 2009 @ 10:58 am | by Fiona McCann

    Whether you believe in the power of music to make political change or not,  tomorrow’s concert, through a live-link to Gaza city where it will be broadcast on a big screen, is doing something else: letting those living in the beleaguered city know that they have not been forgotten, even as their story slips from the front pages and fades from the airwaves. Tomorrow night, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Lumiere, Kíla, Naisrin,  Zahara El Safty,  Palestinian singer and rapper Shadia Mansour, Iraqi/English political activist and rapper Lowkey and the Dublin-based Discovery Gospel Choir will all take to the Tripod stage for an evening of cultural celebrations that will be transmitted live on a big screen in Gaza. Palestinians in turn will have the opportunity to communicate live to the Irish audience through the live link-up, while filmmaker, Dearbhla Glynn,will screen some of her footage from a recent Gaza visit to shed some light on the remaining devastation, nine months on from the January attacks.  Irish activist, Caoimhe Butterly, will also speak on the night about her experience working on the ambulances in Gaza during the January attacks that momentarily galvanised an international community. Ten months on, and the city is still under blockade and is struggling to recover from the attacks: which is why zll profits from tomorrow night’s show go towards rebuilding the city. Tickets are priced at 15 euro, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and an early kick-off promised due to the two-hour time lag behind Gaza.

  • Line and ink literary luminaries

    October 13, 2009 @ 3:33 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Illustrationist Annie West gives Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney the treatment (via Very Hungry Caterpillar) in this piece entitled Laureate. . . Because I’m Worth It.


  • Darklights and red elves

    October 9, 2009 @ 12:05 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Darklight kicked off last night and the Court Yard in Smithfield was jammers – even William Blake made an appearance, in the heartfelt and inspiring words from head of the Canadian Film Board Tom Perlmutter. Did I mention there’s plenty on, including this, which will be grappling with the question: Has Pop Eaten Itself? The discussion will be chaired by journalist Una Mullalay with a panel consisting of Will St. Ledger, journalist Sinead Gleeson, Dylan Haskins, blogger Rapture Ponies, DJ Alison Curtis and musician James O’Neill. But before that, there’s this at the Joinery, an open discussion by Synth Eastwood on their work and animation in Ireland. Which I would be attending, were it not for this: David Turpin’s new album launch. For a sample of what’s in store, click away to his myspace. But here’s a reminder of what came before, from the somewhat aptly named The Sweet Used-To-Be.

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  • So many festivals, so little time

    October 8, 2009 @ 2:39 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Pant pant. In festival frenzy. No time for proper post, just mini rant about crazy coughers at Robert Lepage’s The Blue Dragon (row of biddies behind me coughing at every possible juncture, then passing sweets along the line “DO YOU WANT A MINT?” “WHAT?” “DO YOU WANT A MINT? FOR YOUR COUGH? HERE, LET ME UNWRAP IT LOUDLY FOR YOU FIRST!” before returning to coughing into my hair. Nggggggggg) which was not quite enough to distract me from the most impressive use of stage and space that I’ve seen in a theatre in a very long time, and a mention that Darklight launches tonight, celebrating art, film and technology with highlights including the Irish premiere of Willy Doherty’s Three Potential Endings in Smithfield square tonight, This Is Not A Show: R.E.M. Live At The Olympia at the Lighthouse and 2019 AC: After Copyright where Anna Troberg, Vice Chairman of the Swedish Pirate Party (the political outfit dedicated to radical copyright reform) and our very own Jim Carroll will be discussing the creative copyright landscape, and yes I am aware of how long this sentence is but am too busy to amend it. Have festivals to attend. As you were, then.

  • Six hundred and fifty pages of Bookerness

    October 7, 2009 @ 9:08 am | by Fiona McCann

    Curses. Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is after winning the Booker prize, and it’s some 650 pages long. And now I have to read it. Here’s what Eileen Battersby says. Any of you lot already ploughed through and consider it worth my (monumental) effort?

  • Chaos Thaoghaire

    October 6, 2009 @ 2:23 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Cool name, eh? Well, it’s a new monthly night at the Odessa that purports to include “games, storytelling, posturing, judge-bribing, one-upmanship and cursing,” at least according to the press release. Think literary themes and rounds of games or you know what? Stop thinking at all, and just check it out in person. But not on the launch night, on October 14th, because that’s booked out. Nope, such is the popularity of what one participant referred to as “a load of Victorian parlour nonsense” that you’ll have to go for the November slot if you want any chance of taking part. To book, email chaosdublin@gmail.com. For more information: www.chaosthaoghaire.com. Anyone who attends a night, please report back here – otherwise, I’ll have to wait till November, by which time I’ll have forgotten my own name, let alone how to spell Thaoghghghghire. See?  

  • Gracias a la vida

    @ 11:05 am | by Fiona McCann

    Mercedes Sosa died on Sunday, in Buenos Aires, my one time home town, where I once heard her sing live in the Rosedal in Palermo. Her music soundtracked much of my life there, her songs a way into the language and the history of the country I had adopted. Here she is singing the Violeta Parra song that she made her own, her version becoming an anthem for left-wing protestors in defiance of the military dictatorships that oppressed much of South America during the latter half of the last century. Gracias al cantante.

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  • Why puppets are scary

    October 3, 2009 @ 6:32 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Guest Post: A play set in Auschwtiz you say? Surely this will be some worthy work that we will all rub our chins, wring our hands and solemnly agree is an important work. But it’s with puppets? And with no script?

    Kamp has all the potential to be the longest hour of your life, but instead it is an ambitious and shockingly good show. Hotel Modern have built a scale version of Auschwitz, in which they manipulate hordes of tiny figures, sometimes as mass groups, often as individual models, shuffling about the stage, digging ceaselessly in the ground, or shoveling bodies into ovens. All of this is filmed using handheld cameras and projected on to a screen. This is horrifying and terrifingly effective stuff. Sitting in the pitch black of the Samuel Beckett Theater, I was afraid to breathe in sharply so thick was the atmosphere. Several years ago, I went to Auschwitz and one of the main impressions it left was the scale of the construction and the horrifying efficiency and precision with which it was built: row after row of perfectly aligned barbed-wire fences, shack after shack stretching as far as the horizon. With its thousands of tiny figurines, and low angled camera lines, Kamp recreates this to startlingly good effect.

    There is a chillingly effective soundtrack and I still haven’t worked out how they worked the sound effects. (One continuous soundtrack that they synched up the action to? Dozens of music cues operated off stage?) After the performance, the cast invited the audience down into their Auschwitz recreation to see it up close, but I didn’t take a wander on to the stage – I wanted this theatrical sleight of hand to remain something of a mystery. A deeply moving and visceral  hour that you feel in the pit of your stomach. By Laurence Mackin

  • Silver Stars

    October 2, 2009 @ 6:30 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Running off to a(nother) wedding, but had to write a quick post on another moving and powerful piece of theatre, Silver Stars. For a more eloquent review, click here. Suffice to say that this song-cycle, based on interviews with gay men who came of age in an intolerant society, is disarming for its honesty, and its faithfulness to the personal stories of those who contributed to the project. I’ve been bellowing out “I love you more than God!” at inappropriate junctures ever since – go see why.

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