Bums on seats and other poetics
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.
Congratulations to Eilean Ni Chuilleanain (The Sun-fish) and Sinead Morrissey (Through the Square Window), who are thus in the running for the £15,000 prize to be announced on January 18th. Their competition comes from Fred D’Aguiar for Continental Shelf, Jane Draycott for Over, Philip Gross for The Water Table, Sharon Olds for One Secret Thing, Alice Oswald for Weeds & Wild Flowers, Christopher Reid for A Scattering, George Szirtes for The Burning of the Books and Other Poems and Hugo Williams for West End Final.
A bualadh bos to all, and a poem from one to finish:
Through the Square Window
In my dream the dead have arrived to wash the windows of my house. There are no blinds to shut them out with.
The clouds above the Lough are stacked like the clouds are stacked above Delft. They have the glutted look of clouds over water.
The heads of the dead are huge. I wonder if it’s my son they’re after, his effortless breath, his ribbon of years -
but he sleeps on unregarded in his cot, inured, it would seem, quite naturally to the sluicing and battering and paring back of glass
that delivers this shining exterior… One blue boy holds a rag in his teeth between panes like a conjuror.
And then, as suddenly as they came, they go. And there is a horizon from which the clouds stare in,
the massed canopies of Hazelbank, the severed tip of Strangford Peninsula, and a density in the room I find it difficult to breathe in
until I wake, flat on my back with a cork in my mouth. stopper-bottled, in fact, like a herbalist’s cure for dropsy.
- By Sinead Morrissey.