Out of the shadows and on to the stage
SMALL PRINTS:Over the past few months, in collaboration with Ruhama and the Abbey Theatre’s Community and Education department, five actors met with women involved in prostitution, a process that yielded hours of recordings. The fruits of that process, Taking Back Our Voices, a short piece of theatre in development featuring Úna Kavanagh, Sorcha Kenny, Aoibhinn McGinnity, Caitríona Ní Mhurchú and Niamh Shaw, was presented over two afternoons in the Abbey Theatre last week.
The material is stark, uncomfortable, and occasionally cushioned by the humour one suspects is needed to survive such a grim situation (although what begins as jovial slagging frequently twists into sour violence). Oonagh Murphy, the assistant director in residence at the Abbey, chose not to present it as a series of predictable monologues. Instead, the women convene around a dressing room table of sorts that is crowded with hairbrushes, deodorant and takeaway coffee cups. Occasionally, one woman moves side stage unseen to dictate a more cohesive first-hand experience. A former sex worker sits in the background, straddling a chair, a shadow of reality to the actors’ depictions.
Such shadows are what the sex industry exists in. Shadowy lanes where lap-dancing clubs flourish. Shadows in anonymous apartment blocks, hotels, and street corners. The dark shadows of the internet, where sex is ordered and reviewed like takeaway food. Taking Back Our Voices simultaneously yanks this world from the shadows and pushes those shadows towards us, forcing the audience to observe on the very public forum of a well-lit Abbey stage.
Upon its conclusion, much of the audience was stunned into silence while waiting for a subsequent question and answer session. This is a piece in development, but the importance of the material, its grit, sadness and realism, bled out into the street after. It feels as though there is still much to be gained from shining a light towards such dark shadows.
Rocking in the aisles
For the past week, a passenger jet filled with journalists, competition winners and Rihanna has been zipping around the globe on her 777 tour: seven gigs in seven days in seven cities. Stories of sleeplessness, partying and even streaking abound, perhaps making the Barbados star evaluate this type of promotional jet-setting. But it’s not the first time musicians have taken to the sky. Here are the top five musical flights of recent times.
Jamiroquai’s gig in the sky
In 2007, the inexplicably popular Jamiroquai broke six world records while performing five songs for 200 fans on a private jet on a flight between Munich and Athens. Three years later, James Blunt beat the record of highest altitude concert by 1,800 m.
Cyndi Lauper’s airport serenade
While not strictly on a plane, in 2011 Cyndi Lauper amused frustrated passengers in Buenos Aires airport by singing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun through a check-in desk PA system.
Kanye West’s inflight service
In 2010, Kanye West suddenly decided passengers on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to New York needed to realise he was on board. He grabbed the plane’s loudspeaker phone and rapped censored versions of Gold Digger and Good Life.
Stevie Wonder rehearsing on board
Last month, on his way to a charity gig in New York from LA, Stevie Wonder decided he needed to get a little more practise in, and rehearsed harmonies with his daughter Aisha Morris while passengers quietly looked on.
While the Amsterdam Sinfonietta orchestra was waiting for a delayed KLM flight to get off the ground in September 2010, they kept themselves occupied by stretching along the cabin aisles to give passengers an impromptu classical performance.