Macnas parade of characters winds way through city's heart
DRAGONFLY drummers, a dancing bear, a fiery phoenix and larger-than-life hearts beat their way through Galway’s streets last night as Macnas celebrated love’s power to transform.
And if some of the characters looked as if they had hopped out of W B Yeats’s poem The Circus Animals’ Desertion, that’s what the street theatre troupe’s artistic director Noeline Kavanagh had in mind.
There were shades also of Séamus Heaney and singers Edith Piaf and Tom Waits as merging metaphors and colliding allusions provided the alchemy for Kavanagh’s mix.
Southerly gales threatened and then delivered sheets of rain throughout the day but the thousands took to the streets for the annual ritual that has become an integral part of the fortnight-long arts festival.
Kavanagh’s Journeyman reflected both “bravery and vulnerability”, said Ms Kavanagh as the parade’s principal character crossed desert, forest, bog and sea, fuelled by his “thunderous heart”.
In 2009 the Galway community artist gave the city arts festival her fantastical interpretation of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Two years ago, a 5m Boy Explorer led a wild hunt; and last year it was the turn of a 13-year-old Mistress of Invention.
This year, a carnivorous carnival’s head, played by Miquel Barcelo, symbolised the hubris associated with building false hopes. Galway arts festival artistic director Paul Fahy was a lioness’s companion, while Jonathan Gunning’s dragonfly pedalled furiously atop a giant penny-farthing bicycle.
Kavanagh, togged out in tights and flowered top hat, darted about as the Journeyman’s large metal heart beat, howled, stomped and hugged its way from Spanish Arch to the fisheries field.
The musical score was by Orlagh De Bhaldraithe, while the Blue Teapot Theatre Company, Youth Ballet West and the Macnas Young Ensemble joined in with the demon drummers.
The arts festival continues its second week. Free events include Kamchatka, involving eight characters wandering city streets from Eyre Square to Spanish Arch, tomorrow and Wednesday.