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  • If you only do one thing this weekend … do a lot

    January 10, 2013 @ 7:59 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Final first: The First Fortnight festival of mental health and creative arts is drawing to a close, and it’s ending things in fine fashion. The events at this one have been scattered throughout the two weeks rather than packed into a few days, giving people plenty of time to see as much as possible – a nice curatorial touch.

    This weekend, though, there’s a lot to choose from. Pat Kinevane’s excellent play Silent is at Smock Alley Theatre, while the Box of Frogs revue, featuring Mary McEvoy, Dil Wickremasinghe and John Moynes, is at the Mill Theatre, Dundrum. Tomorrow night’s Thearpy session at the Workman’s Club still doesn’t feature Nordie noisemeisters Therapy?, but it does have poetry from Kalle Ryan, Abby Olivera, and John Cummins, and music from Chris Campbell, Root Cellar, The Man Whom and Roisin O. The finale gig on Saturday night has a cracking line-up in We Cut Corners, Kopek and Vann supporting Le Galaxie, whose Christmas shows at the same venue were nothing short of explosive.

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    On Saturday afternoon, you can also catch a screening of Joey Pantoliano’s No Kidding, Me Too documentary, followed by a Q&A session with the man who’s perhaps most famous for playing the thinking gangster’s favourite psychopath, Ralph Cifaretto. (Here’s an interview with Pantoliano that I did earlier in the week, where he talks frankly about his own depression and his mental-health advocacy work.)

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    Theatre junkie: Reckon you’re a bit of a theatrical heavyweight? Is one show just never enough on a given night? Have you got a hunger for enhanced performance that would put Lance Armstrong to shame? Then we have just the shows for you.

    TheatreClub is currently fomenting a revolution in the Project Arts Centre with Theatre Machine Turns You On: Volume III. It’s putting on four shows a night, with talks and parties to boot, that range from lo-fi works in progress to late night long players. It’s a huge amount of work, energy and ambition to squeeze into two five-day bursts, and well worth manning the barricades for. Click here for a breakdown of the playlist.

    Meanwhile, over in the Abbey Theatre, a host of professional actors are self-flagellating for the pleasures of Dublin Youth Theatre. The 24 Hour Plays sees writers, directors, actors and crew conceive, devise and perform six plays in just a day. Among those taking on the challenge are Garry Hynes, Sarah Greene, Michael West, Louise Lowe, Annabelle Comyn, Amy Conroy , Paul Mercier, Eleanor Methven, Aoibhinn McGinnity, Janet Moran, Gina Moxley, Valerie O’Connor and dozens more. And it’s all in aid of Dublin Youth Theatre. There’s a lot of agents getting fired before this one is over. See the fruits of their labour on Sunday night. (more…)

  • Arts funding and bursaries 2013: Deadline time

    January 8, 2013 @ 9:43 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    For many artists, the beginning of the calendar year means organising their funding, so here is a selection of some of the arts grants, funding sources and bursaries available for 2013. If you know of any more please leave them in the comments section below.


    The first major deadline and perhaps the most pertinent one for individual artists, is the Arts Council’s bursary awards, and the deadline for these is January 17th. These are awarded in the following areas: theatre, visual, film, literature, architecture, dance and arts. For most of these, the bursary goes up to €15,000, but for dance and arts this is capped at €10,000.

    These are awards for professional artists to develop their practice and to provide artists with the time and resources to think, to research and to develop what they do, be it with their art in general, a specific piece or a particular body of work.

    To qualify, you have to be a professional artist, and you have to have been born in or resident in the State. The only major restriction is that you can’t be in undergraduate or postgraduate education.

    The award is designed to help an artist develop their practice, and to a limited extent this may mean covering expenses such as living costs, renting studio space or time, materials or paying for third-party expertise. In a nutshell, this is more current than capital costs.

    There are specific guidelines for each individual bursary available on the Arts Council website.

    One particular point that should be borne in mind is that all applications have to go through the Arts Council website, which you have to register on first. Getting that initial registration confirmed can take up to five days, so first-time applicants should register immediately even if their application isn’t completely ready to go. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend … make a fortnight of it

    January 3, 2013 @ 11:29 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    First festival: After a prolonged Christmas break, we’re back in the artistic saddle and ready to ride out the winter gloom with some live distractions.

    First up at putting a little colour into the pale cheeks of January is the excellent First Fortnight arts and mental health festival. Fringe favourite Solpadeine is my Boyfriend is back for a fresh plink plink fizz in the New Theatre on Friday and Saturday, while Friday night’s Therapy Sessions at the Workman’s Club has as tidy roster of acts that alternates between poetry and music. Among the poets are Eddie Keegan, Sarah Clancy, 
Elaine Feeney and Colm Keegan, while fighting the perfomers’ corner are Drea, Robert Grace, Mumblin’ Deaf and This Club.

    And on Saturday, the IFI is screening Tarnation, in which Jonathan Caouette documents his experience growing up with a mother who has schizophrenia. A powerful festival with many stories to tell.

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    Last of the species: A Betrayal of Penguins are about to go out with a … well, whatever noise it is penguins make. (It’s kind of a throaty “eerk eerk” that smells of fish, actually.) The comedy foursome – or Aaron Heffernan, Matt Smith, Ross Dungan and Eoghan Quinn to their mothers – are calling it a day to pursue projects numerable, and as a parting gift, they are running through their entire oeuvre this weekend at the Project Arts Centre, under the witty title Druid Penguin. That’s Don’t Run with Scissors, Endangered for a Reason and Harmed and Dangerous on Friday and Saturday. Miss it at your penguin peril as you’ll never get the chance to see it again. An endangered species indeed.

    Sunday cooking: Get you groove on this Sunday at Dublin’s Workman’s Club, which is packing in a whip-tight jazz roster from 4pm. Workin’: Jazz and Other Grooves tips its hat to Miles Davis, so expect a jam packed session of solid, slick music. Among the acts playing are Leafzang, Hugh Buckley, The Asteroids of Doom, Shane Latimer, Matt Jacobsen’s Redivider and Laura Hyland’s group Clang Sayne. And all this for just a tenner. Nice work if you can get it.

    Wheely funny: Another product of the Fringe gets a fresh airing this weekend. Sonya Kelly’s hilarious take on her childhood, The Wheelchair on My Face, came up through the Fishamble Show in a Bag ranks to no little acclaim, and it’s on this Friday and Saturday at Tallaght’s Civic Theatre.

    Colour in the darkness: There is one perennial highlight to the drab days of January – and that’s the unveiling of JMW Turner’s watercolours at the National Gallery, which can only be shown this month owing to the conditions of their bequest. This year, the exhibition will include all the Turner watercolours in the Vaughan Bequest, and five other recent acquisitions, as well as a selection of Turner’s Liber Studiorum prints. There’s also a study morning and lecture series taking place throughout the month. Click here for details.

  • If anyone needs me, I’ll be on the holodeck

    December 18, 2012 @ 6:23 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Dublin’s Science Gallery is adding a bonus level to Game, its current exhibition.

    Game: Next focuses on the latest in gaming technology and runs from tomorrow (Wednesday) until Friday. The most exciting aspect of it is Project Holodeck, a virtual reality gaming system.

    It uses Oculus Rift technology and a head-mounted helmet-like display to put the gamer in a virtual play space. This uses the Sony Playstation’s Move optical system to track the player’s head and a Razer Hydra magnetic system for limited body tracking.

    So what’s the game? Wild Skies is a fantasy flight game where players learn how to pilot a nuclear-powered airship through “an exotic world of floating islands and dangerous storms, while fending off religious fanatics, oppressive governments, and vicious pirates to protect their family”. Players play in three dimensions and perform physical actions, such as drawing swords or guns from holsters. Visitors to the gallery will be able to give it a go, but expect demand to be high.

    Project Holodeck’s director Nathan Burba, producer James Iliff and their team will be at Science Gallery for the exhibition, and this is the first time it has been outside LA.
    The project came together after raising $2.4 million from a Kickstarter campaign

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  • Dalkey Archive responds to that job advertisement

    December 13, 2012 @ 1:23 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    By now, most people will have seen the job advertisement/internship posting that Dalkey Archive Press put up some days ago. It has met with outrage online, with Salon.com asking if it is the “worst job posting ever?”

    This is unsurprising. Among many other requirements, DAP asked for candidates who “want to work at Dalkey Archive Press doing whatever is required of them to make the Press succeed; do not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with their work at the Press (family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.)”.

    Furthermore, among a long list of “grounds for immediate dismissal during the probationary period” were “being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work”. Helpfully, it advised: “DO NOT APPLY if you have a work history containing any of the above.”

    What many people may have missed on first reading (myself included) was the satirical edge in the post, something that perhaps we’re not used to in the current age of sterile online recruitment. Here, John O’Brien, the American director of Dalkey Archive Press and the man responsible for the advertisement, offers some context. It comes from a recent email exchange I had with O’Brien, and is reproduced here with his permission. He began the exchange by pointing out that the advertisement was written in a manner he viewed as appropriate with Irish literature: that of Swift, Joyce Beckett and, perhaps most pertinently, Flann O’Brien.

    “The advertisement was a modest proposal. Serious and not-serious at one and the same time. I’ve been swamped with emails (I wish they’d stop: I’ve work to do), and with job applications. I certainly have been called an ‘asshole’ before, but not as many times within a 24-hour period.

    “Strangely, no one (except the applicants) seem to have noticed that jobs are being offered: when does this happen with internships? In brief, I take internships very seriously, and take on only people I think might be a future employee. Since coming to Ireland, I’ve seen so many applications to Dalkey in which CVs list upwards of six internships, which tend to smack of ‘we looked, we evaluated, and didn’t think the person was good enough to keep’. And my 25 years of experience with interns has been very mixed: the most common problem being that they aren’t prepared, don’t know what to expect, hope that a job might be at the end of the rainbow, and yet don’t have a clue as to what an employer is looking for. Employers wind up frustrated that they put in so much time, and the interns wonder why a job wasn’t forthcoming. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . ready, steady, Christmas

    December 6, 2012 @ 5:48 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Yule better: It’s well into December at this stage and high time to kick out the festive jams. If watching Die Hard in the Light House cinema during the week didn’t get you into the Christmas spirit (what do you mean you weren’t there?), than the Young Hearts Run Free crew should finish the job nicely. On Saturday night, they are holding their annual Yule fundraiser for the Simon Community, and for your entertainment on the night they’ve corralled Donal Lunny, the Spook of the 13th Lock, David O’Doherty, Dylan Tighe, Thread Pulls, Mumblin’ Deaf Ro, The Strypes, Margie Lewis, OCHO, Niamh de Barra, Pearse McGloughlin and plenty more into the Dublin Food Co-Op on Newmarket Square. It’s BYOB, they are promising cake, mulled wine, hot cider, raffles for Christmas trees and plenty more. The first live performance is at 8pm and just €16 gets you in the door. Christmas comes early for some, eh?

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    Join the musical dots: Few gigs this weekend are most anticipated than the XX in the Olympia Theatre, which is solidly sold out after their stellar performance at this year’s Electric Picnic. However, for a few local equivalents to the local trio, you could do a lot worse than rock up to the Joinery gallery in Smithfield on Friday night. It’s tiny room will be hosting Katie Kim, Ickis Mirolo and Chequerboard, who will previewing tracks from his upcoming album The Unfolding. BYOB and all for €10. Lock it in.

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  • Why the Irish arts sector could benefit from a little of Jude Law’s anger

    December 4, 2012 @ 7:18 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Artist Elizabeth Price

    Last night Elizabeth Price won the Turner prize, Britain’s most prestigious visual-arts award, and with it a cheque for £25,000. Perhaps what was most striking about the ceremony was not her win – although Paul Noble was the bookies’ favourite in a particularly strong year, Price’s work has been lauded by critics.

    Rather, it was the tone taken by Jude Law, who presented the award, the Tate’s director Penelope Curtis, and Price herself. All three showed a palpable anger at the British government’s plans to cut arts funding and arts-education funding, and they weren’t afraid to use the Turner prize ceremony to air it.

    In an emotive speech, Law accused the British government of “cultural vandalism” over plans to drop art from its central position on the school curriculum. He said the prize represented the “cutting edge” of the UK’s creative output and that downgrading classes in art, design, drama, dance and music would blunt “our leading edge in the arts and jeopardise the future of the UK’s creative industries. Art education should be accessible to all.”

    Price also lamented the effect these cuts would have, and said she couldn’t imagine how her career would have worked out without support from the state. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . try a little Tender Napalmness

    November 29, 2012 @ 9:59 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Tender is this night: One of my Fringe highlights this year was All Hell Lay Beneath, a preposterously ambitious show that transformed several floors above and below a Dublin pub into the hall of mirrors from Steppenwolf. The fledgling company behind that undertaking, Sugarglass, has just opened its new show at the Project Arts Centre – and it’s a belter.

    Tender Napalm focuses on two people, stranded on a desert island, trapped in a ravaged paradise of their own creation. It’s a clever, intricate and, yes, ambitious show, with just two actors, Aaron Heffernan and Erica Murray, carrying a fairly action-fraught 70 minutes on their young shoulders. The play is by London writer Philip Ridley, and here it becomes a muscular heft of storytelling that contrasts sharply with the devised theatre approach that seems to be the default setting for current young Irish theatre.

    With smartly effective stage design by Colm McNally and taut direction by Marc Atkinson, this show is definitely one to catch, and enhances Sugarglass’s reputation as a theatrical company to watch. More of this sort of thing please.

    Southern accents: It’s that magical time of year when a small church in the Kerry town of Dingle becomes Ireland’s musical capital for the packed weekend of Other Voices. Is there a better way to spend a weekend than trying to get tickets for tiny gigs, while the warm welcomes in every nook and cranny of Dingle melt away the effects of the freezing winds blasting in from the Atlantic? On the roster this year are Villagers, Soak, Aaron Dessner, Local Natives, Kodaline and more. If you haven’t got a ticket, there’s sometimes a few to be had if you hang around the church of St James’s, like old, smoking men dodging a Sunday sermon. This is one special festival and it’s well worth the trip to soak up the atmosphere in Benner’s alone, while the small and perfectly formed gigs are broadcast on screens in the bars and pubs around the town. (more…)

  • Competition: Win Tickets to Quietly

    November 26, 2012 @ 2:58 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    This competition is now closed

    On Friday, we had a competition to win tickets for Quietly, the powerful play by Owen McCafferty that is now at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin. However, some people got in touch to say they couldn’t enter, so in the interests of fairness and to make up for what appeared to be a glitch in the comments system, we’ll try it once more with feeling.

    Quietly focuses on a powerful story about violence and forgiveness in Northern Ireland. In it, two strangers come together in a Belfast pub, and try to get to grips with how the events of a single night 36 years previously have shaped their lives.

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  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . get Richterfied

    November 22, 2012 @ 7:00 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Button bound: It will be very hard to keep ourselves out of Dublin’s Button Factory this weekend, thanks to a pair of gigs that are as tempting as a pair of aces on a last hand of Texas Hold ‘Em before the river.

    First up in this salvo is Australia’s Dirty Three on Friday night. If previous gigs are anything to go by, Jim White, Mick Turner and Warren Ellis will be showing up to tear the place apart, and if you’ve never seen the band live before, grab the opportunity with both hands. However, best sit a row or three back if you are of a nervous disposition. On record, their subtle, sombre music occasionally wrenches itself into electric life, and live Ellis has a habit of upping the ante and whirling about the stage like a demented dervish. Explosive doesn’t do it justice.

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