Tracy Ryan: On My Culture Radar

The theatre director on returning to the source for ‘Trainspotting’ and why Maxine Peake is an inspiration

Current favourite book

I've been re-reading Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh again. The language is so vibrant, it's very graphic, but the way in which he describes the world still feels really fresh and vital. It captures that time of the late 1980s and early 1990s when Britain was coming out of a Tory government and things were changing. I've seen the film, and the sequel last year, but going back to the source is always interesting.


I love the deli area of Dollard & Co in Dublin. The view out to the quays is great, and you can hang out there for as long as you like and no one will push you on. That makes it my favourite place to meet people and chat. They do nice breakfasts and have great salads, like the Californian salad. It always feels fresh and the portions are generous.


Theatre show

It's been touring extensively, but I saw Michael Keegan-Dolan's Swan Lake or, in Irish, Loch na hEala, when it came to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin for a short time. It combined theatre and dance: Mikel Murfi was the actor in it and there were dancers with him. It was excellently staged, and so beautiful to watch. It brought everyone to their feet in a euphoric way; the standing ovation was well deserved.


I was recently introduced to Bastardilla, a female graffiti artist from Colombia who explores social justice and women’s issues. Graffiti is legal in Colombia so she creates big images with strong definition and she adds glitter to them. At night, they catch the light of the lamps and come alive. They’re big statements, but they’re still feminine.


I love Maxine Peake who's featured in Black Mirror, Dinnerladies and The Village. Throughout her career, she's effortlessly crossed between film, TV and theatre; we've had female Hamlets before, but her interpretation of Hamlet at the Manchester Royal Exchange in 2014 was fantastic. She writes as well as acts and she's passionate about access to the arts for working class people, especially as she's working class herself. She's a great role model and she's a brilliant actor.


Russell Brand has a podcast called Under the Skin which I love. He chats to a real variety of people, I suppose it’s based on his interests of politics, spirituality and addiction studies. I know he prepares, but it feels like he’s just chatting with them, and they have a really in-depth conversation on their thoughts and beliefs. I appreciate that it’s not interrupted with any adverts.

TV show

I'm very much into this second season of Westworld. I'm interested to see what they do next with it because in the first series, you couldn't predict what was going to happen. It's an engaging premise, that there's a seemingly utopian world under which there's something wrong.


Recently I saw Custody, the French film directed by Xavier Legrand. We meet the couple and they're getting divorced, and it's about the custody battle over the child. It's an amazing psychological thriller. The build-up of tension was so much that I was hiding behind my hands, and the whole cinema was gasping. Fantastic acting too, especially by the boy who played the son, Thomas Gioria, who's only about 12.

‘Trainspotting’ runs at The Olympia, Dublin from May 8th to 12th