Pursued by a Bear »

  • If you only do one thing this weekend, celebrate Flann

    March 30, 2012 @ 4:01 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Listen: You can wear your heart on your sleeve tonight, with a few fundraising concerts taking place in Dublin. Relive the glory days of the Clash with Mick Jones, Pete Wylie and The Farm in the Academy – they are touring in aid of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. Meanwhile, over at the Olympia, a fundraiser for Barretstown in honour of the late Paul Newman has pulled in a roster of Irish stars with a slightly seasoned flavour, including Sinéad O’Connor (how’s that for a career turnaround?), Ham Sandwich, An Emotional Fish, Something Happens, The 4 of Us, Lir and Engine Alley. Both are ¤25 a pop.

    Theatre: Love All was one of those little theatrical gems that may have escaped your notice as it rattled through Dublin earlier in the year, and now there’s a last chance to see it in Bewley’s Cafe Theatre. “It may pose as a knock-up, but it leaves the sensation of a grand slam,” sayeth Peter Crawley – and who are we to dispute the point? The show tells the story of Vere St Ledge Goold, a 19th-century star of the tennis world who went from Wimbledon to prison through a series of scandels. It ends on Saturday – as does the Tiny Plays for Ireland, just in case you haven’t heard enough about it already. (more…)

  • Exclusive ticket offer for Pan Pan’s ‘A Doll House’

    @ 1:11 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    PAN PAN THEATRE, once of the most innovative companies in Ireland, is about to present its new production of A Doll House, the classic Ibsen play that tackles communication, relationships and social conventions in controversial and acerbic fashion. Somehow, Pan Pan are drawing a connection between Ibsen, Karen Carpenter and superhero costumes in this production – rumours of mass skating breakouts are also circulating. (And before the Doll House/Doll’s House title debate starts, both are acceptable and I went with what is on Pan Pan’s website. So there.)


    If I start the mass dancing/skating you all better join in, okay?

    The show is at Smock Alley Theatre (which was originally a theatre in the 17th century and hosted the Irish premiere of Hamlet) from April 4th to April 28th. It is directed by Gavin Quinn, designed by Aedín Cosgrove, with costumes by Bruno Schwengl and a cast including Áine Ní Mhuirí, Charlie Bonner, Daniel Reardon, Dermot Magennis, Judith Roddy and Pauline Hutton.

    Ticket prices are usually €28 to €30, but if you to go to this booking page and enter FriPan in the box marked “promotion code” you can avail of them for the exclusive Pursued by a Bear bargain price of €16. Or you can call the box office on 01-6770014. We can’t say fairer than that, guv. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect.

  • Competition: Win tickets to Alice in Funderland

    March 28, 2012 @ 2:27 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Next week sees Alice in Funderland open at the Abbey Theatre, and to celebrate we have two pairs of tickets to give away.

    This is the first musical at the Abbey Theatre in more than 20 years. This modern day fairy-tale is produced by the sublime Thisispopbaby, with Wayne Jordan directing, and features a Phillip McMahon script with music composed by Raymond Scannell. The cast includes Sarah Greene, Paul Reid, Ian Lloyd Anderson and Aoibhinn McGinnity, including eight members making their Abbey debut.

    We have two pairs of tickets to give away for April 7th. To enter simply answer this question: Where is the lead character in Alice in Funderland from? (Watch the video, it’s obvious like). Email you answers to lmackin@irishtimes.com – the competition closes at noon on Friday. If you’re not luck enough to win, you can (perish the thought) buy tickets at abbeytheatre.ie or tel: 01-8787222.

    THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

  • Culture shots: Deceptive, epic photos, stunning snow and new publications

    March 26, 2012 @ 10:04 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    THE ABBEY IS gearing up for perhaps its most raucous show, and its first musical in more than 20 years – here Phillip McMahon, one half of Thisispopbaby, goes down the rabbit hole that is Alice in Funderland. Later in the week we’ll have a competition for tickets, so check back with us, and if you want a little taster of what to expect, why simply watch this video.

    JOTTA IS AN excellent, diverse design website that launched in 2009 as an initiative of the University of the Arts in London, to facilitate collaboration in contemporary art and design. It puts designers and artists together to create work, exhibit and critique their own output. Now it has taken the jump off the screen and on to the page with its first publication, a poster-sized compendium of selected artists from the site. Click here to have a look and order a hard copy for the entirely reasonable sum of £5.

    SPEAKING OF PUBLICATIONS, a new one is now making its way into the world. The South Circular is a quarterly e-journal of short stories, which you can buy over here. Each issue contains four stories by four emerging authors, with original cover art – and it costs three of your regular euro. The first edition, which is available now, has stories by Adrian Duncan, Shane Hulgraine, Eddie Stack and Eley Williams and an illustration by Fuchsia Macaree. A lovely piece of grass roots arts work.

    MIDDLE-CLASS WHINGE ALERT – this year I did not get to go snowboarding. This pains me greatly. However, watching this video temporarily alleviated the frustration, and then made it worse once the effects had worn off. Bah. And huzzah. This is one of the most beautiful snow videos I’ve ever seen, whether you are into powder or not.

    I REALLY DON’T know if these photographs have been doctored or treated much in post-production but they look absolutely outstanding. What at first appear to be empty concert halls and strange, cavernous architectural spaces slowly reveal their much smaller-scale identity – these are picture taking of the inside of instruments. There is a strange, still and quiet beauty about them. They were created by photography Bjorn Ewers for an advertising campaign for the Berlin Philharmonic and are quite simply stunning.

    AND FINALLY … artist Grayson Perry recently did a public interview with Decca Aitkenhead (he’s the one in the spectacular dress) based largely on questions sent in by readers of the Guardian. He’s always informative and educational company, particularly his take on therapy – most artists, he admits, would be terrified of therapy as they think it would lessen their quirkiness and maybe tinker with their muse, but he likens it to “clearing out the toolshed”. Marvellous company to keep.

  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . take in a tiny piece of theatre

    March 22, 2012 @ 6:11 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Theatre: A small tiny idea has blossomed into a very impressive artistic body of work – last year Fishamble Theatre and The Irish Times asked the public to send in their tiny plays, of no more than 600 words each, and you responded in your thousands. This week, the Project Arts Centre began staging the first of two tranches of these glittering pieces of tiny drama. Included in the programme are works by Dermot Bolger, Michael Cussen, Colin Murphy, Rory Nolan, Joseph O’Connor, Ardal O’Hanlon and many more. The cast is made up of Steve Blount, Peter Daly, Robert Donnelly, Mary Murray, Kate Stanley Brennan and Don Wycherley, and the production team is impressive to boot, with Jim Culleton directing, Gavin Kostick on dramaturgy duties, and sets by Sabine Dargent, and many others involved. Initial reviews have been strong to say the least – you can read Peter Crawley’s verdict here.

    Watch: Last week I had the singular pleasure of sitting in a darkened theatre and watching almost nothing happen on screen. In Turkish. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is allegedly a crime drama, but those expecting something akin to Gomorrah (look, I knew nothing about the film and went to see it based on one picture I saw – the one above) will be very surprised. This is a film filled with giant, ancient landscapes, shot largely at night in the Turkish countryside, as a team of police and investigators tour around with a murder suspect who is struggling to remember where he left the body. The script is boiled down to raw bleached bone, the photography is breathtaking and while it’s 2 hours and 20 odd minutes certainly don’t fly by, this is one of the most satisfying film experience you will have this year. You can read Donald Clarke’s review here if you won’t take my word for it. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend, dance at the crossroads

    March 15, 2012 @ 5:21 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Musical: They will be singing in the aisles at the Gaiety tonight, when Improbable Frequency takes up residency for a fresh run. The Rough Magic show has been something of an international hit although it’s a minor miracle it got made in the first place, according to its author Arthur Riordan – in this piece for The Irish Times he explains why the perceived wisdom is that musicals cannot be made in Ireland, although happily he decided to take the risk anyway. You have until March 24th to find out if it was worth it.


    Spacious rooms, needs work, any offer accepted

    Art: PrettyvacanT Dublin was invited by Dublin City Council Arts Office to enliven one of its vacant units, and the result is Shoot the Tiger, a new exhibition that opens tonight at Unit 3 James Joyce Street, Dublin 1, and runs until March 29th. The show is made up of artwork created since 2008 under the constraints of our new “economically damaged nation” – so expect art fuelled on decline, collapse and failure with glimmers of hope and optimism. Among the work featured are: collages by Aoife Flynn comparing Ireland’s newly-abandoned buildings to Soviet structures and monuments; delicate, divisive watercolours by Amy McGovern; and a series of paper modules by Blaithin Quinn’s that look at how we can reorder and restructure vacant space. Click here for more. (more…)

  • Culture shots: Hidden da Vinci, keeping it country and fumbles in the dark

    March 13, 2012 @ 10:18 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Art history: Few stories make more appetising reading than uncovered artworks – and when the work in question is by Leonardo da Vinci, the headlines write themselves. So the news this week that researchers in Florence may have found a wall mural by the Renaissance master whipped around the world in minutes. But the details are fascinating and raise all sorts of ethical questions for historians and art curators.

    The painting in question is The Battle of Anghiaria; the main problem is that it is possibly hidden behind an existing fresco by Giorgio Vasari. Samples of the hidden mural were taken through cracks and gaps in the existing fresco, and they are consistent with pigments used by da Vinci – but they are also consistent with pigments used by his contemporaries, so this is encouraging rather than definitive evidence.


    Leonardo, not earlier today

    Maurizio Seracini, an Italian engineer from the University of California at San Diego, is one of the people working on the research, and, in a move that Dan Brown would be proud of, he was partly inspired to look behind Vasari’s painting, as a tiny flag in it contains the tiny legend “Cerca, trova” (“seek and you shall find”). Vasari was a well-known Renaissance biographer, and as such is unlikely to have destroyed any work by da Vinci. Though why he would see to hide it if he knew it was there is unclear. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend … go designer

    March 8, 2012 @ 9:00 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Photography: Sebastiao Salgado’s work is some of the most recognisable in world photography. He is perhaps best known for his epic pictures of Bald Mountain in Serra Pelada, Brazil, which have a biblical quality – enormous teams of men toiling in horrendous conditions at Sisyphean tasks. The Gallery of Photography in Dublin is currently hosting an exhibition of his work which focuses on Salgado’s latest project, in the Amazon region – he is a campaigning photojournalist and has been working on environmental issues for many years. Rosita Boland recently interviewed the photographer and you can read her article here.

    (more…)

  • 12 Points videos: jazz on film

    March 7, 2012 @ 6:44 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Here are the second batch of videos from this year’s 12 Points Festival. These videos were shot by Cormac Larkin, who reviews jazz for The Ticket and is the man behind Hatch 21 Productions, and the sound quality is excellent. The words below are mine. For full reviews of the bands check the earlier blog posts from 12 Points.

    Maciej Obara Quartet
    Maciej Obara exemplifies many of the best characteristics of Polish jazz. The playing of Obara and his band is polished to a pristine degree, full of elegance and well structured chromatic developments.

    The band build big dramatic landscapes of introspective sound that occasionally find themselves in unsettling territory, the sax haunting the off-kilter piano of Dominik Wania above scraps of scraped cymbals with the bass of Maciej Garbowski solid and relentless in the background while Krzysztof Gradziuk’s kit skitters nervously and
    Obara drops rolling bursts of colour low on the song’s horizon. (more…)

  • Culture Shots: Funding deadlines, conductorless orchestras and how to get to the Electric Picnic for free

    March 6, 2012 @ 6:59 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    IT’S MARCH, which means there’s a pile of funding deadlines approaching for Arts Council bursaries. On March 15th, applications close for Artist in the Community schemes and the Music Commissions award. Then March 29th is the final deadline for awards for Music, Opera, Street arts and spectacle, Film, Dance, Theatre, Arts participation, Traditional arts and Visual arts projects. Click here for more information. There’s still plenty of time to get in an application that could make an enormous difference and take a career or a project to a whole new level. So do it.

    THE LATEST issue of the Dublin Review has some choice material, including a particularly intriguing story by Ed O’Loughlin on Albert Johnson, the “Mad Trapper of Rat River”, who in 1932 eluded capture from the Royal Canadian Mountain Police during a 150-mile chase before being shot and killed. You can access the issue over here (paid-for subscription). (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend: check out Dublin’s latest jazz venue

    March 1, 2012 @ 7:16 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Jazz: Good news on the Dublin front, with a new residency and a new venue – KC Peaches on Dawson Street is to begin jazz nights on Saturdays, starting this weekend. There will be two sets, the first at 8pm, and it is free in. Leading the group this and every Saturday for the foreseeable is jazz guitarist Mike Nielsen, who is, according to this newspaper, “One of the best and most original jazz talents ever produced in this country.” I’ve seen Nielsen play several times and his lyricism is something to behold. His quartet for these shows is rising star Sam Comerford, Cormac O’Brien and James Mackin. Click here for more. DOI: my brother is the drummer. (more…)


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