Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Irish Theatre to See in 2016

Rehearsal image for The Casement Project by Fearghus Ó Conchúir, pegged to be a main event in the 1916 commemorations. Photo: Ste Murray.

Some dates for your calendar in 2016 …

Northern Irish dramatist David Ireland’s new play Cyprus Avenue is an anticipated hot ticket next year. Directed by the Royal Court’s Vicky Featherstone, in co-production with the Abbey Theatre (Feb 16-Mar 19), this dark comedy sees Stephen Rea playing a Belfast Loyalist who believes his granddaughter is Gerry Adams! Those who saw Everything Between Us this year know that Ireland has a smart hand in revealing the truth behind individual prejudice.

One Dublin master takes on another as Mark O’Rowe directs O’Casey’s tragicomedy Juno and the Paycock at the Gate (Feb 16-Apr 16) - the theatre’s first production in 30 years - with an all-star cast including Marty Rea, Derbhle Crotty, Emmet Kirwan and Bríd Ní Neachtain, and set design by Paul Wills (Our Few and Evil Days). Juno also receives a production at the Everyman Theatre (Feb 10-20), where director Ger Fitzgibbon tests the specificity of the Dublin tenements in O’Casey’s portrayal of the Civil War by relocating the action to Cork City.

The O’Casey rush isn’t surprising. With the sector priming itself for the centenary of the Easter Rising in March, the most appropriate, if blindingly obvious, is The Plough and the Stars, which receives its third staging at the Abbey Theatre (Mar 15-Apr 23) in seven years. Those still forlorn over the missed opportunity of a co-produced O’Casey cycle with Druid, hope that director Sean Holmes will deliver the kind of bold perspective that Plough so badly needs.

Promotional art for Cyprus Avenue by David Ireland.

If you're wanting a breather before the commemorative tidal wave hits, Lir graduates lay siege to Project Arts Centre with Hannah Moscovitch’s East of Berlin (Jan 8-16) and new comedy The Poor Little Boy With No Arms (Jan 20-23, with a national tour), devised with Mikel Murfi and directed by Oonagh Murphy. There’s also a new dance performance by Philip Connaughton called Whack!! (Feb 25-27) with national dates throughout February and March. At The New Theatre, David Greig’s adaptation of Strindberg’s saucy Creditors (Jan 26-Feb 6) is directed by Aoife Spillane Hinks for C Company, and there’s a new one by John Morton (War of Attrition) called Taboo (Feb 16-27), directed by Sarah Baxter. Morton’s first play, Heart Shaped Vinyl, will run at Kilkenny’s Cleeres Theatre (May 18-21, 25-28) as part of the Devious Theatre Company’s 10th anniversary.   

The centenary has thrown up some interesting funding opportunities. Fearghus Ó Conchúir is to deliver The Casement Project, interrogating the ‘national body’ through the queer figure and 1916 rebel Roger Casement. This project will encompass a performance for stage; a day of dance on Banna strand, where Casement arrived aboard the gunship the Aud; the making of a short dance-film; and academic symposia in Dublin and London. Also on commemorative commission, ANU Productions and CoisCéim Dance Theatre will produce These Rooms, a live performance and video installation based on events surrounding the death of 15 civilian men on North King’s Street, Dublin in April 1916.   

In partnership with An Post, Dublin Dance Festival will present Embodied, a series of six dance solos or ‘physical proclamations’ to be performed inside the GPO. Choreographers include Liv O’Donoghue, Jessie Keenan, Emma O’Kane and junk ensemble’s Jessica Kennedy and Megan Kennedy, with the overall series directed by Liz Roche. An Post and Fishamble will also present Inside the GPO, a new play by Colin Murphy (Guaranteed!, Bailed Out!), that will run in the main hall of the GPO during Easter week.

Promotional art for They Called Her Vivaldi by Theatre Lovett.

In theatre for young audiences, suspect a wonderful duet between Louis Lovett and Genevieve Hulme Beaman in Theatre Lovett’s They Called Her Vivaldi, an adventure about a musical prodigy, opening at Riverbank Arts Centre (Feb 19). Branar will tour Maloney’s Dream / Brionglóid Maloney, a new play about a Dublin hotelier in 1916 whose dreams collide with the Rising, opening at the Town Hall Theatre (Apr 6-9).

Later in the year, look out for Invitation to a Journey, a co-production between Fishamble, CoisCéim and Crash Ensemble about the Irish architect and genius designer ignored for years: Eileen Gray. Druid will also be mounting Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane, twenty years after their Tony-winning production. And Opera Theatre Company’s production of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, in a new translation by Roddy Doyle, is to be a headliner at the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Forgotten Irish architect and artist Eileen Grey, the subject of Invitation to a Journey. Photo: National Museum of Ireland

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