Questions of art at Everyman


The growing passivity of regional theatres and their use merely as venues will be challenged by the Everyman Palace programming strategy, announced by artistic director Pat Talbot, writes Mary Leland

"We want to see a more balanced ratio between indigenous house production and touring companies," said Talbot.

"I believe that Cork should have a building-based producer of professional work, like the Gate and Abbey Theatres in Dublin and the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Buildings have their own unique identity and atmosphere, and we want to complement ours by producing more of our own work and building up a more active public engagement. At the same time we would be providing more employment opportunities for the burgeoning professional theatre community in the city."

The big Capital of Culture moment for the Everyman will be the world premiere of Wrecks, commissioned from Neil LaBute with funds from Cork 2005 and opening in November.

LaBute himself, who is currently working on his play The Wicker Man, is in constant contact with Talbot and will direct the production in Cork. That excitement is a long way off, and the Everyman policy will be judged in the meantime by the remainder of its summer programme and what comes after it.

So far, apart from the predictable success of a re-run of Bouncers, things haven't gone so well. Tillsonburg is a complicated - perhaps even contradictory - play, and the lax style of its direction, coinciding with a heat wave, resulted in small audiences and its eventual premature closure.

The financial consequences mean the collaboration with Upbeat in September for Roddy Doyle's The Woman Who Walked into Doors, in which Cork-based actors would provide the supporting cast to Hilda Fay, has had to be cancelled.

The remaining item in a summer season which included Dark Week as the Everyman contribution to the Midsummer Festival is the controversial comedy Art by Yasmina Reza.

Opening on Tuesday, August 9th (previews from this Thursday), Art is directed by Talbot and designed by Patrick Murray, and features Dan Mullane working with Mark O'Regan and Kieran Ahern.