Festival shows to deliver 221 'green shoots' to economy


CHEKHOV’S THREE Sistersperformed in its original Russian, an enormous model of Auschwitz populated by thousands of 8cm-high hand-made puppets and a play about miners learning to appreciate art are just some of the highlights of this year’s Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival.

The festival programme, launched at the Gate Lab yesterday evening by the festival’s artistic director Loughlin Deegan, includes 221 performances of 26 shows from 12 different countries taking place between September 24th and October 11th.

Mr Deegan reminded a packed room of the importance of the arts, particularly in a time of economic crisis.

“If people are looking for green shoots, I have 221 of them here,” he said, in reference to the number of performances scheduled for this year’s festival, adding that such a programme would inspire confidence as well as galvanising spending.

“It’s what’s going to contribute to driving this city, and this irritating and strangely lovable country of ours back on to the straight and narrow.”

His words were echoed by festival chair Peter Crowley, who called the festival a “good news story”, paying tribute to the “multiplier” effect of its high quality programme on the city and the country. He also said the programme, and continuing quality of the festival even in straitened times “reinforces the importance of having a Minister” for Arts.

Speaking at the programme launch, Arts Council chairwoman Pat Moylan reiterated the link between a thriving economy and a vibrant arts scene.

“If we hope to be a society with a vibrant economy, we need the arts,” said Ms Moylan.

She added that “the role of the arts is to lift and inspire the spirit of a nation”.

To lift, inspire and kickstart the festival, 47 Indian musicians and singers from three generations will take to the stage of the Gaiety Theatre for The Manganiyar Seductionon September 24th.

A group of 13 Flemish teenagers will also be appearing later in the 18-day festival, for high energy performances in Once And For All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen.

Yet plenty of home-grown talent also features in the line up, with new plays by Sebastian Barry, Michael West, and a new adaptation by Conor McPherson of Daphne Du Maurier’s short story The Birds, as well as performances from Stephen Rea, Derbhle Crotty and Sinead Cusack among others.

Every night during the festival, the face of Dublin’s Liberty Hall will be the backdrop for light animations designed by some of the festival’s leading artists and the general public, who participate through a specially designed online interface.

But this year’s festival is spreading out from the city centre, with the Dead School, an adaptation of Patrick McCabe’s novel, to tour the Draíocht Arts Centre in Blanchardstown, the Pavilion Theatre in Dún Laoghaire, and Tallaght’s Civic Theatre.

The festival also includes a season of documentary theatre entitled Real Lives, Real Voices, which brings to Dublin four of Cairo’s muezzins, those who lead the Muslim call to prayer, as well as the return of director Robert Lepage with The Blue Dragon, and the ReViewed programme, where four Irish productions will be restaged and showcased to a new audience.

For full programme details, see www.dublintheatrefestival.com