Archive for July, 2009

Breathing Corpses-Interview with artistic director Peter Hussey

July 29, 2009

breathing corpses

 

Based in Kildare and using artistic experiences to address issues of social injustice, Crooked House hosts various workshops and dramatic youth groups each year. Their annual show however promises something exceptional and this year they are staging the Irish premiere of Breathing Corpses.  Written by the youthful but firmly established English playwright Laura Wade, we spoke with artistic director Peter Hussey on the origins and meaning behind the dark comedy.  

 

 

 

Laura Wade is a relatively young and fresh playwright, why did you decide to stage Breathing Corpse as your annual play?

 

I read a huge amount of scripts from London and all around the world and this play sits well in the context of Crooked House. It treats issues like mental health, suicide and gender based violence. Our company is caught up in doing this type of work with non-actors, creating a lot of awareness about gender related violence, particularly psychologically and emotional abuse in the 18-33 year old age group. Be it a boyfriend controlling a girlfriend or a friend using emotional blackmail or guilt tripping. These themes are consistent in Breathing Corpses, which is why I chose it.

 

 

 

The title “Breathing Corpses” conjures up thoughts of a George A. Romero film, is it a play about zombies?

 

Well Breathing Corpses is a metaphor-a person without happiness is simply a breathing corpse. Wade uses this theme to tell quite a gripping story. It opens with a grisly scene-we met Amy, a hotel chambermaid who is most likely going to stay as a maid for the rest of her life. One morning on one of her rounds however she discovers a body in one of the rooms. Instead of reporting it immediately however, she strikes up a conversation with the corpse whom we find out is called Jim. We then move back in time and meet Jim before he died, and observe the lead up to his death.

 

 

 

So it’s a murder mystery?

 

No not really, in Jim’s story he comes across a body himself, and we then go back in time to discover the origins of this person, who has also come across a body. This continues a few times throughout the course of the play and we meet some interesting characters.

 

 

 

This all sounds very macabre, is it humorous at all?

 

It has plenty of wit but not necessarily laugh-out-loud comedy. All the characters represent different aspects of social injustice, which is what Crooked House is all about. We meet characters suffering from domestic violence, depression and loneliness each with an underlining message. Instead of just telling a story Breathing Corpses gives audiences something to think about. Hopefully people will leave not just entertained but also enlightened about various social discriminations.

 

Catch Breathing Corpses at The Project Arts Centre, 17th-29th August

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Top Ten Male Singers Of All Time

July 22, 2009

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a female vocal. I can’t place my finger on why exactly, but for whatever reason, I always tend to favor the gentler gender when it comes to music. That’s not to say I can’t listen to male singers, au contraire, it simply means that when I do come across a record with male vocals taking the reigns that I do like, it’s a big deal. Whereas other people seem to think Coldplay or U2 are genius’ in their artistic endeavors, I simply find them dull. I never got the Beatles and Bob Dylan leaves me reaching for shuffle on my iPod. The male singers I do like however earn their status by performing lustrous airs with body that avoids pigeonholing them into generic rock stars. You might notice some common traits- over half of them are raging queers, and know doubt many will disagree with it, but here it is…

 

 

 

10 Barry White

barry-whiteThe man with the chocolate voice, Barry White’s music hangs on the verge of guilty pleasure. His is the cd you stick on during a date, after you’ve dimmed the lights and after you’ve poured the wine, but before you run the bath. Your The First, The Last, My Everything (which was originally written as a country song by White fyi) is still a floor filler more then 30 years after it was released. His ability to talk in that sultry baritone voice before he began singing manages to avoid the corniness it has so much potential to be. Personally, I think he is far better then Elvis, his often compared white parallel. Elvis was cool, but Mr White was just Uber chic.

 

 

 

9. Marc Bolan

I first heard T.Rex as a kid, but the first time I actually registered them was in an ad for bottled water. Cosmic DancerMarc Bolan-“I danced myself right out the womb”. I pictured this elderly Native American woman singing it, and couldn’t believe it was a British pioneer of Glam Rock. In exploring Mr Bolan’s back catalogue I fell in love with his bizarre vocals and simple yet effective song writing abilities. None of them sounded similar, yet all of them could only ever have been T.Rex- Children Of The Revolution being deliciously daft, Ride A White Swan emitting more rock-meets-children’s-nursery-rhyme. I don’t have a clue what most of them are about, neither did he most likely but that didn’t matter, they were simple and more importantly fun songs. One of the most underrated British bands of times past, T.Rex should be up there with the Beatles and Stones.

 

 

 

8. Jake Sheers

jake_shears_1A more modern addition to the list then the previous two, Jake Sheers is best known for fronting Scissor Sisters, the queerest band to hit the airwaves since Abba. With a range that reaches so high you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d just had a groin injury, his tackling of Comfortably Numb was controversial and Pink Floyd themselves were vocal about it’s bastardization. I liked it myself, but the Scissor Sister’s own material was strong enough that it’s a wonder they decided to release a cover as their debut single. There isn’t one song on that beautiful first album that hinted filler. From the retro camp Take Your Mama to the epic and terrifying Return To Oz it is easily one of the classics of the naughties. Their follow up Ta-Dah didn’t get quite as warm a reception but I still stand firmly beside it. Yes there are one or two stuffing tracks but I Can’t Decide and Transister are up there with their best stuff. It’s been a while since we heard from Jake and the gang, but my fingers are crossed that we haven’t seen the last of them. They deserve legend status.

 

 

 

7. Antony Hegarty

 

Another queer entry, Antony might not actually appreciate being on this list, seeing as he identifies with being a woman, as mentioned in his hauntingly beautiful song For Today I Am A Bouy. His music is difficult to define, slightly Kate Bush, slightly Patrick Wolf with plenty of his own ingredients, I first heard his enchanting vocals on The Rufusantony-hegarty Wainwright track Old Whore’s Diet. He exploded onto the already bizarre song with this weird sound, almost echoing a pervy drugged up pimp. I had to investigate the origin of this voice and I came across I Am A Bird Now, The second album by Antony (and The Johnsons). It’s not an album, nor is he a singer I can listen to for hours on end, but the anomalous of his material is absorbing and wonderful. His latest album The Crying Light is slightly more produced and the simplistic piano ballads are faintly missed, however it is still a Gem(as long as your not already feeling a bit blue).

 

 

 

6. Damon Albarn

 

Damon AlbarnThat lovely little accent, that cute red hoody, and the gorgeous cheeky face, Damon Albarn didn’t need to be a great musician to be loved, but lucky for us his is.

Britpop was a immense time for music, and Blur were out there ruling over their peers such as Pulp, Suede (and maybe even Mel C). I still can’t believe there are people out there who prefer Oasis to Blur, and Damon (unlike Noel and Liam) has transgressed his musical talents into the modern music scene with ease and with Gorillaz, has had more success now then he ever did with his boys. His music is incontestably fun, and that’s all music ever needs to be really. I much prefer when Boys And Girls comes on in a club then let’s say “Sexy Back”, and he’s invented a new genre of cartoon funk with his ingenious animated band. A musical multitasker, I’m disgusted they aren’t headlining a show of their own this summer. Nothing would drag me down to the Barbaric festival that is Oxegen.

 

 

 

5. Patrick Wolf

There seems to be somewhat of a trend with the number 5 on my top ten lists. Like Amanda Palmer in my top ten female singers, Wolf in my mind writes and sings amazing songs set in a genre of his own, but as a person he comes of patrick wolf sexyas such a gobshite (Bette Davis was also famous for being a bitch i.e. gay icon number 5). You know that irritating self-indulgent “so cool” attitude that some popstars seem to share? Well any interview or live performance I’ve seen of Paddy have contained that air of blah…Still I continue to buy Patrick’s records and listen to him profusely because he’s an amazingly talented man who knows how to make a decent album. Looking like a bad guy from a Final Fantasy game, one would expect him to start singing all high ala Mika, however his deep Baritone chanting may be the contributing factor to his originality. The Childcatcher is possibly the most terrifying piece of music to graze my ears. Dripping with a cocktail of Myra Hindly and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang evilness, it’s a drastic difference from the sweet Magic Position, which is gloriously underrated pop. My personal favorite is his duet with Marianne Faithful-Magpie, which is ever so Kate Bush.

 

 

 

4. Freddie Mercury

I love the name Freddie. It has so much character; I mean how could you not love a Freddie? I kind of wish I was freddie mercurycalled Freddie actually…but I’m not, I’m stuck with Paul the most generic name known to mankind.

So you see with a name like Freddie Mercury how could the man anything but a legend? My early memories of Queen’s hits are at my uncles wedding as a 5 year old, seeing old ladies and drunk 2nd cousins all playing air guitar in synch. How could anyone not love his unending catalogue of feel good rock? Bohemian Rhapsody may just be the best song of all time, Don’t Stop Me Now Still sounds as fresh as the day it was released. I find it amazing that a band as colourful and dramatic as Queen are still considered second fiddle to the Beatles who in my mind are grey in a sea of rainbow melodies beside Queen. I think were I to have a singing voice. Freddie’s would be that ultimate set of vocal chords and it is one of the tragedies of my life that I will never get to see him live in concert.

 

 

 

3.David Bowie

I sulked with David Bowie a few years ago. I was all set to see him headlining Oxegen but the man had a bad heart or something, so instead The Darkness headlined…THE DARKNESS? Where are they now eh? To be honest they actually weren’t bad but I’m still bitter I haven’t seen Bowie on stage yet. Yet being the all-important word. I’ll never forgive david bowiehim if he pulls a Freddie. I need a Bowie fix every few days, he’s not someone I can listen to for hours on end. He’s more like an old reliable that puts me in a good mood with the world. His croaky voice shouldn’t really work, but it does and adds a haunting depth to the lyrics that is completely absent from modern music. Ashes to Ashes is possibly my favorite Bowie song before it was raped by Samantha Mumba (who by the way admitted to not knowing who Bowie was). He’s become a bit of a Kate Bush in his later years with the speed of his new material, but allegedly he currently has a new album in the recording factory so it won’t be too long before we’ve another batch of Bowie goodness to stick on our iPods. 

 

 

 

2.Michael Jackson

michael JacksonOk I first want to mention that although I only got around to writing this a week after Jackson’s untimely death, I actually compiled the list the same time I did my list of female singers and Michael earned the number two slot on his own. Not simply because he’s fashionably nostalgic at the moment. Michael Jackson remains one of my earliest memories of music. I was 6 when he released Dangerous and there is a dusty home video of my cousin and I moonwalking to Black or White hidden somewhere in my Nana’s house. There is something universally likeable about his music. Whereas Madonna and U2 distil opinion with fiery distain, very little music fans are critical of Mr Jackson’s output. Find me one person who sits through Billie Jean in a nightclub, ditto for Dirty Diana. True Earth Song and countless of his ballads are corny as fuck and are sweeter then marshmallows steeped in maple syrup, but they’re all still great examples of pop. Thriller is the ultimate song that all others must measure themselves up against-the audio golden chalice. He destroyed his beautiful face (just look at him in Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough) and his short life was drenched in tragedy and sadness. I don’t know or care about his morals as they don’t effect his records, and in an odd way, now that he’s dead we’ll probably gain access to far more unreleased tracks that we never would have heard had he died an old man. RIP Michael

 

 

 

  1. Rufus Wainwright

rufus wainwright

The order of this list is fairly stellar, but in a few months time I may feel someone deserved a place higher, or lower (I still feel guilty about bumping George Michael for Barry White) but I know there will never be any doubt on who deserves the golden position.

I think Rufus Wainwright is the paramount songwriter in the music business today-perhaps it’s because he is more of a composer then a writer. At first I wasn’t charmed by his voice, I thought it was slightly nasally and harsh on the ear, but as his albums progressed it got softer and far easier to listen to. Want One is my personal favorite of his albums. It restrains his most captivating moments with Beautiful Child, 14 Street and Go Or Go Ahead. However as a whole Want Two probably flows better. While my favorite tracks are on the previous, the later as a whole contains not one song that requires the skip button. His latest album Release The Stars was another celebration of how an album should sound-It was also the album he was promoting when I saw him in concert, twice actually. The first was in San Francisco where he was supported by Sean Lennon and they dueted on Across The Universe. It was the number one live music moment of my life (aside perhaps from my first Pink gig in 2002 when she got topless). He came to Ireland a few months later and he played a similar set, which ended with a drag performance of Judy Garland’s Get Happy. It was the perfect mix of humour and musical genius, which sums up Rufus as a whole. He’s camp and flamboyant, but never naff. His lengthy catalogue is completely sparse of any stinkers whatsoever and as he’s only in his mid thirties and even bigger due to his opera debuting in London, he is really only beginning the musical career I believe he’ll continue into his old age.

Taking Liberties-Interview with photographer Emmett Martin

July 22, 2009

 

Meath Street

The Liberties strike a cord in many a Dubliner’s Heart. Seen as the less prosperous hub of the city for many a year, it has now come full circle and has remained defiant to the Celtic Tiger’s transformation of Ireland into a modern city. Emmett Martin was enchanted by it’s refusal to let go of it’s cultural roots, and after publishing his book of the same name, he teamed up with the No Grants Gallery to exhibit a series of photographs capturing the Magic of the Liberties. We caught up with him to ask him about his love affair with Meath Street and the rest of the Liberties.

 

 

Would you say the exhibition showcases your art using the Liberties as a subject, is it a documentation of the area, or is it a mixture of both?

 

In a sense it’s a bit of both. I started taking pictures of the Liberties a year ago, I moved here from Paris-although I’m originally from the States, and one day I wandered over toward Meath st. I fell in love with the place. It was completely unique. I lived in New York in the late eighties/early nineties, and some of the old sections of New York have really kept a hold onto their personality and roots. This same sense of stepping back in time is what struck me when I walked on to Meath st. for the first time.

 

 

By saying that then-do you feel that the rest of Ireland, or Dublin at least has lost it’s core, due to modernisation?

 

Yes I would say that. Coming over from Paris-which is still very much steeping in nostalgic culture, I have to admit I didn’t find much personality in Dublin straight away. I almost felt like I was on the east coast of America. In saying that, so many Irish came over and settled in Boston, that it may naturally feel that way.

When I arrived here four years ago, the Celtic Tiger was in full bloom so there was a lot of innovation in architecture and the whole area around the quays seemed so slick. In contrast when we went over to the Liberties it felt like nothing had been tarnished by modernisation.

 

 

So why have the exhibition in Temple bar-would it not make more sense to hold it in the Liberties?

 

Well I put my relationship with the No Grants Gallery down to serendipity.  It all just fell into place. I had taken a bunch of pictures in the Liberties and (self) published them in my book.  Not long after I was approached by No Grants and asked if I wanted to do a show there. One of my proudest moments regarding the book is that it’s the only English language book stocked by the Irish bookstore on Harcourt. The owner of the shop’s grandfather had grown up in the Liberties and it struck a cord in her heart, so she made an exception.

 

 

Would you say then, that the Liberties have almost become fashionably bohemian?

 

Perhaps yes, that’s an interesting way of phrasing it.

 

 

And what do you hope people who come the exhibition will take from it?

 

I hope people come away with a sense of respect for the people of the Liberties. The community there is overwhelmingly strong and the occupants are very proud of their heritage. I also hope people can have a bit of a giggle at the tongue in cheek nature of many of the shots.

 

 

What about the community of the Liberties, how do you think they will react to the exhibition and exposure?

 

I’m not entirely sure, regarding the book; people seemed to like recognizing different residents who appear in many of the pictures. Many of the venders have been on the same stands for years and are local treasures so it’s nice to see them cemented and recognized.

 

 

 

No Liberties-29th July-12th August in The No Grants Gallery, Temple Bar

The opening night is Thurs, 30 july 6-8pm all are welcome:)

Scissor Sister’s the Stage Comedy-Not the One with Jake Shears

July 8, 2009

This isn’t a typical Blog post for me, I prefer to review stuff and write about what I like rather then deliver news…but I thought this was priceless so…

Mulhall's

Remember Sweeny Todd, that musical about a grizzly murderer who murdered his victims and served them in pies? Well that’s actually based on a true story, but because it happened over a hundred years ago we can forgive Mr Burton for showing it in a fairly humorous light.

The far more modern tale of Charlotte and Linda Mulhall’s murder and dismemberment of Fareh Swaleh Noor is much fresher in people’s memories however, so one would think it might be a few years before it’s tale hit the stage. This is not the case however, as a Nigerian playwright is planning on turning the “Scissor Sister’s” gory story into a comedy. For those of you unfamiliar with the details (what bolder have you been hibernating under?)  the play will center around how Noor fell in love with the sister’s mother Kathleen and after the demise of their relationship, he ended up in the Royal Canal in Dublin, or at least parts of him did. His head and penis have never been found and allegedly, his missing head will be the narrator of the play. Bad taste or comic genius, the tongue in cheek play will bound to attract audiences-though as it is still being penned, a date has yet to be released.

The Poor Mouth-Interview with Paul Lee, the brains behind the stage version of the Flann O’Brien Classic

July 1, 2009

 

pig 2

The Poor Mouth was originally written in 1941 by a man with more pseudonyms then Diddy Puff Sean.  Christened Brian O’Nolan and assuming the title Myles na gCopaleen for this particular book, for simplicities sake we’re going to refer to him as his most famous name-Flann O’Brien.

Deriving from the saying “to put on the poor mouth” it satires the old Irish tales of Peig Sayers and Thomás Ó Criomhthain, whose autobiographies are so mundane reading them may lead to wrist slitting.

I spoke to Paul Lee who originally put the book to stage in 1989, and is reviving it 20 years later in The New Theatre.

 

 

Some book to play transitions serves the story with a slight twist. A Picture of Dorian Gray shows 3 actors rehearsing a dramatic reading, while Dracula has been turned into a one-man play. Is this a direct adaptation?

 

Yes it’s pretty direct translation of the book. It’s an autobiographical story about an unfortunate character living in the West of Ireland. He opens the play and starts to explain his life, then we go back through his past, reenacting pinnacle moments he has faced. The book is so well written it translated to stage seamlessly. The only difference is the use of visual gags that give a stronger punch to the humor.

 

 

 

When was the first time you read the book?

 

1988. As soon as I read it I wanted to read it out loud. At the time I had just came back from England, and I was very much involved with music-which I still am. I was visiting a great pub called An Béal Bocht (Irish for The Poor Mouth) on Charlemount street, which was a great little music bar. I spoke to the owner of the pub about maybe adapting the book on stage and I brought together a group of artists to put it together. The original production was only to run for one week, but it was so well received it ran for six.

We’re approaching it a little different this year; we’re going to do it in different theatres around the country rather then keeping it static in only one.

 

 

 

The Poor Mouth is very much a satire of the old Irish books that were on the Irish syllabus years ago-such as Peig Sayers. Do you think this would translate abroad, or is it very much only for an Irish audience?

 

Well, Flan O’Brien is widely read and there is already bookings coming in for the New Theatre from America, and to be fair most countries have familiar traditions-how hard life was in the old times etc. There are of course several references that perhaps only an Irish audience would get…and others that only O’Brien fans would get, but as a whole there is plenty in it that is universally funny.

 

 

 

Peig Sayers hasn’t been on the Irish curriculum for quite some time. Do you think the play is still relevant to today’s audience?

 

Yes we tried it out before we committing to doing it in the New Theatre in the Cherry Tree. We modernized it slightly. 20 years ago the Peig Sayers era was fresher in people’s minds and people related to it much easier. A younger audience now mightn’t get the actually literary reference, but the comedy is so strong it doesn’t matter. Yet truth be told the play is probably most powerful to people who went to school in the 50s and 60s, although certainly not exclusively so.  

 

 

 

The New Theatre is a very small and quaint theatre, was it intentional to stage the show in such a setting?

 

Yes, it’s a beautiful little space-only 66 seats. Originally the play was designed for a small venue with puppets and cut out props, which get lost in a bigger space. You can’t beat the intimacy you get in a small venue. This is my first time actually working in The New Theatre and we’re very excited.

 

 

 

 

 

See The Poor Mouth the New theatre from the 20th July for a limited run

€20/15/10