Pursued by a Bear »

  • If you only do one thing … get the willies

    October 27, 2011 @ 6:32 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Jazz: There’s going to be a lot of sharp-suited folk strutting their stuff in Cork this weekend. They’ll be snapping their fingers and polishing their spats the length and breadth of the Leeside at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Nice.

    For those of you not of a jazz persuasion, there’s plenty to whet the interest, from the excellent electronica of Ghostpoet to the funk rock pop mash-up of Honest Jon’s Chop Up (you can read an interview about the rhyme and reason behind this collaboration over here). For those looking for the real thing, there’s a decent selection, and chief among it is Trygve Seim and Frode Haltli sharing a stage. Marius Neset is yet another Norwegian jazzer setting the world on fire (what the hell is in those jazzy fjordic waters that the country keeps churning them out so effortlessly?); while Greg Osby will be leading Michael Janisch’s group. Expect fireworks. And polo necks. Click here for more details. (more…)

  • How was it for you? How to improve our theatre festivals

    October 26, 2011 @ 3:24 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    More celebrities! Comfier seats! Waiter service and free drinks!

    The Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival is looking for feedback to try and improve its offering for next year. It has posted a survey over here that you can fill out in about five minutes. The form is anonymous and one person will get a free dinner for their thoughts, so get clicking.

    The answers are of the tick-the-box variety, so we’d like to broaden the scope here. Let us know below what you would like to see improved and what positive elements you would like to see built on in both the Dublin Theatre Festival and the Absolut Fringe festival. Also, if there is anything about The Irish Times coverage, particularly on the Festival Hub, that you would like to see given a shot in the arm, do let us know.

    To kick things off, after the jump are a few of my own thoughts on what worked and what could be improved from the past month or so spent at the theatrical coal face. (more…)

  • And the winner of our critics competition is . . . Phil Kingston

    October 21, 2011 @ 10:58 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Phil Kingston lives in Crumlin, Dublin. He saw Mark O’Halloran’s Trade, which ran in the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, and we felt his short review was particularly articulate and critically engaged with the play. Phil wins a theatre trip for two to London, including tickets to The Playboy of the Western World at The Old Vic Theatre.

    Here is his winning review:

    Trade
    Five stars

    How to write about love? Make a cliché real again. You know watching Philip Judge’s enraptured Older Man that he’s fallen for Ciaran McCabe’s terse rent-boy and this transaction is going way beyond affectless sex. So far so familiar, but writer Mark O’Halloran’s detailed attention to loneliness and unspoken passion (think Garage) reminds us love is always specific and frequently painful.

    Tom Creed’s direction charts the gentle dance of bitten-back tenderness and, in the Younger Man, gauche and confused sympathy.

    The anonymous site-specific setting of a northside B&B highlights telling details (condoms by the bed, intrusive doorbells) and emphasises the thrill and fear of a relationship that must be hidden.

    But can you have a “relationship” with trade? Judge’s tremerous need for one drives the story and McCabe disappears into a monosyllabic foil. His tentative response to his client’s final hug turns sit-com commonplace into unique compassion.

  • ‘I want to be freer, to cast the net wider’

    @ 10:50 am | by Laurence Mackin

    In today’s Irish Times I have an interview with the Norwegian tenor and soprano saxophonist Jan Gabarek. Here is a slightly longer version, with a few more words from the man himself on ECM, Keith Jarrett and why Norway is a jazz powerhouse

    THERE ARE NO easy answers with Jan Garbarek. That’s not to say that he is a difficult man to talk to. Rather, he is polite and charming, even if at the age of 64 there are probably few questions about his life and work that he hasn’t answered dozens of times.

    It’s more that Garbarek resists categorisation, having cut a singular career that respects no borders in its pursuit of musical purity. Garbarek was born in 1947 in Mysen in Norway, to a Polish father, who was a former prisoner of war, and a Norwegian mother. He has been with the same label, ECM, for almost his entire career, and approaches new ideas and releases with the simple wish to make something significant and musically meaningful. Indeed, his sound has become inseparable from ECM’s ethos and image.

    His collaboration with the Hilliard Ensemble, which tomorrow night comes to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and then travels to Cork on Sunday, is a case in point. “We did the first album [ Officium ] in the mid-1990s; I would say we though the result was quite nice, quite satisfying. I thought it would find a few hundred listeners, which would be fine. At some point, we heard a rumour that there was a lot of interest and then it took off completely, and there was a tremendous amount of requests for touring.” (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend … get spiritualised

    October 20, 2011 @ 6:16 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Jazz: Quality acts in intriguing spaces often make for stand-out gig moments, the kind of nights that you can spend the rest of the year gloating about to your friends that missed out on them. This weekend there are a few to choose from, but I reckon Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble might have the somewhat spiritual edge. This collaboration, who sold a stunning 1.5 million units of their debut album in 1995 (stunning in the sense that it was a niche offering on the exquisite ECM label, and Garbarek expected it to sell a few hundred copies), will be playing St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and North Cathedral in Cork, using no amplification beyond the sound of the Hilliard’s four-piece vocals and Garbarek’s saxophone. Previous reviews of these concerts have been off the scale, and I’ve an interview with Garbarek in tomorrow’s Irish Times. Click here for details.

    Music: Another intriguing offering is the jam-packed line-up on Sunday night for Young Hearts Run Free’s concert, as part of Dublin Contemporary. Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Adrian Crowley, Spook of the 13th Lock, Niamh McCormack, Seeping into Cinemas, The Dying Seconds, Patrick Kelleher and others will all squeeze into the Office of Non-Compliance. It costs a preposterous €5, it is first come, first served, with doors closing at 7:15pm sharp. There will be warm cider, cake and fairy lights, and all proceeds will go to the Simon Community. Shiny goodness. Click here for more details.

    Cinema: And from fairy lights to darkness we go, this time of a cinematic variety. This weekend the Darklight festival brings a grass-roots theme to proceedings. There are several programming strands, including New Indie Voices, Spotlight on Docs, SFX Unplugged, 3-DIY and Artist in Focus, and it all takes place in the post-industrial warehouse space of the Factory in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock. One of the more interesting elements is a series of travel guide films made by Vice including the Vice Guide to Congo, the Vice Guide to the Rebels of Libya, and the Vice Guide to Belfast. Here’s a taster to get your head around, big mawn.

    Opera: Venues don’t come much classier than the new Wexford Opera House, which will be alive to the sounds of this year’s Wexford Festival Opera over the next few weeks. Tomorrow night (Friday) sees the all-but-forgotten La Cour de Célimène brought back to life, while on Saturday the Polish classic Maria will be performed for the first time outside of Poland. Click here for more details, and head over here for Andrew Johnstone’s intriguing look at how the festival is evolving its ethos (with plenty more on both those productions), from today’s paper.

    That’s our selection for the weekend. Free free to throw your own juicy joints into the cultural pot below.

  • Booker bother and the eBook debate

    October 19, 2011 @ 11:57 am | by Laurence Mackin

    We’re back in business here at Pursued by a Bear, and we seem to have missed a few things in our absence.

    The Festival Hub is currently in its comfy stable, snuffling in its nosebag and enjoying a rest, after showing the Absolut Fringe and Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre festivals a clean pair of heels. Our Critics Competition is now closed and a winner will be announced soon, but there is still some time to enter our Tiny Plays competition and see your perfectly formed masterwork brought to life on the stage. (more…)


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