A chance to support Dear Mr. Le Bon

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 19.23.06A friend of mine drew my attention to an interesting publishing project, which music fans may want to contribute to through crowd-funding.

Dear Mr. Le Bon is a proposed book made up of “letters to pop stars regarding their work from a retired member of the public with genuine replies from the artists themselves”. If this is something you’d like to read, you can support their efforts at the Kickstarter link here.

Derek Philpott and Wilf Turnbull, from Bournemouth in the UK, wrote to numerous musicians with friendly enquiries about their work.

The two lads had this to say: “Hello Everyone! We are both pensioners living in Bournemouth who write to popstars about their song lyrics, and they often reply. We also have animations on youtube which are very popular. It’s great to see popstars taking an interest in us ordinary members of the public! And, if you are in any doubt, please be reassured that all replies are totally genuine and are directly from the desks of the bona fide artistes themselves!”

There are a lot of artists involved, from Survivor to Slade, Edwyn Collins to Kaiser Chiefs.

The artists and the media have positive things to say about it, such as:

“It was most enjoyable to be involved in a letter that did not involve one of my ex wives’ solicitors” – Rick Wakeman

”Somewhere between Henry Root and John Shuttleworth – what a hoot!” Julie Burchill

”Now we have Wilf and Derek, two Bournemouth OAPS who write to pop stars old and new, taking them to task for their absurd lyrics. Follow their adventures” Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard

”Good luck, the both of you x” David Quantick

”Thanks for the brilliant work and for allowing me fence with such a formidable comic swordsman. Count me in for whatever helps the Grand Cause!!” Dave Was, Was Not Was

I love the feel of your jibe…Whatever you do will be creative and great. Hope I can help”..Chris Difford, Squeeze

This project will only be funded if at least £16,000 is pledged by Sunday, 3 May. Good luck to the chaps!

Review: Chalk at Dance Limerick & Upcoming events

dance_limk_theo_clinkard_picI haven’t been going to see too many theatrical or dance performances so far this year, which is unusual for me so I was delighted to be invited to go to Chalk at Dance Limerick last Tuesday.

A piece devised and performed by dancer/choreographer, Theo Clinkard, accompanied by a live score by James Keane, it was inspired by the iconic chalk cliffs of the south coast of England and in tune with the blurb, it was indeed an “inventive and intensely physical work”.

A quote in the description by Clinkard read: “I recently found out that the reason that chalk is white is because it is formed out of the minute skeletons of marine life, compressed over billions of years…You could essentially say it’s made of bone”.

This fascinating idea and its seaside, windswept setting was explored in various ways through dance, with atmospheric music (a lot of loop tracks) and sound effects recorded live with everything from trombones to stones. With every recording unique to the venue and performance, there is a certain unpredictability and that adds to the energy.

A particularly interesting sequence was when Keane recorded celery being broken up only for Clinkard to don a black Lycra suit with a skeleton on it and then move to the soundtrack of those sounds. It played on the idea of the microscopic skeletons being bashed around and also the tragic reality that death is ever present here. People regularly commit suicide by jumping off the cliffs and there are accounts dating back through the ages. He brought it right into the present by reading the most recent report by a local group, which patrols the cliffs aiming to help people in distress.

The ‘set’ was just a white diamond shaped area on the floor, which allowed for the space to be used to its full potential. The windows were not blacked out and the failing light of sunset added a nice ambiance to it. Any props were used creatively i.e. the tiny plasticine figure put onto an upright white trestle table to give an idea of scale. He also interacted with the audience by relaying information to people to relay along Chinese whisper-style. The show had a careful balance of seriousness and playfulness.

Everything flowed nicely and even the abstract elements weren’t indecipherable because there was a context and setting—evoked very well by the choreography and the production design. It was a thought provoking and enjoyable show.

For anyone interested you can watch a video promo of Chalk below…

CHALK from Roswitha Chesher on Vimeo.

The next show in Dance Limerick is Moving On by Spoken Dance, which is on this Thursday (23 April) at 8pm and on Friday (24 April) at 11am (tickets €12/10; group discounts available).

This is an evening of contemporary dance, film and performance, Moving On offers the audience an insight into the exciting, new and ambitious work of Limerick’s

integrated dance company.

“Following a period of examination and reflection into the medium of dance film, Spoken Dance will present live dance performance along with five short dance films which have been produced, directed and edited in collaboration with Limerick based disabled and non-disabled artists…Moving on uses film, movement and text to investigate choices around whether we allow our responses to define us or not.”

Two of the films represent the poetry of the Thursday Club of Enable Ireland, Mungret. One of the films was created by disabled dancer Danny Aherne as part of a research project where he was mentored by Mary Wycherley from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. The two other films feature very different duets between a disabled and non-disabled dancer.

The short film, A Sense of Pleasure, which features disabled dancers Mary Keogh and Deirdre Corry of Spoken Dance has been nominated for two awards at Limerick Film Festival. Another dancer, Antoin Cross, has been nominated for Best Factual Feature at Limerick Film Festival for This Integration- a documentary featuring Spoken Dance.

Spoken Dance recently launched integrated dance classes at Dance Limerick which are open to disabled and non-disabled participants. It is a professional company of disabled and non-disabled dancers led by Lisa Cahill and Mary Hartney. Spoken Dance has been creating and performing new, original contemporary dance works since 2011.

On the 30th April—the collaborative dance project, Sum of Parts, is on in the venue. This will see the culmination of a collaboration of Megan Kennedy, Limerick’s Dance Artist-in-Residence co-ordinating with 10 professional dance artists based in Limerick.

For more information on Dance Limerick and events there, see www.dancelimerick.ie.

Luke Murphy to premier new work in Dance Limerick this Thursday

luke_murphy_4_webWith the New Year comes a new programme for Dance Limerick. US based dancer and choreographer, Luke Murphy, will premiere his exciting new work Your Own Man/Mad Notions at the Dance Limerick base this Thursday, February 26 at 8pm.

“Originally from Cork, now based in New York, Luke Murphy fuses storytelling, rich imagery and dynamic movement in Your Own Man/Mad Notions to create a personal essay on the nature of leaving, returning and searching for home.  In this intimate and personal work, Murphy scales down and examines his opinions, his insecurities and his ambitions.”

“This new piece of dance theatre reveals the quiet story of a man from Cork outside of Cork, a dancer from Ireland away from Ireland and the difficulties of maintaining a long distance relationship with one’s cultural identity.  Both fragile and blunt, this multi-disciplinary work examines the satisfaction of following your own path and the fear of losing that small thread in the labyrinth that will lead you home.”

Announcing details of the show, Jenny Traynor, Director of Dance Limerick, said: “We’re very excited that Luke has chosen to premiere his thoughtful, beautiful new work at Dance Limerick.  Luke completed a residency with us last October, which enabled him to immerse himself in developing this new piece.  In a sense, now, the work is coming full circle, being performed to an audience for the first time back here.  I can’t wait to see it and I would heartily encourage anyone with an interest in dance, dance theatre or even just in trying something different to come along.  You won’t be disappointed!”

Luke Murphy’s is a performer and choreographer based between New York City and Ireland.  His own work has been presented in New York, throughout Ireland and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His first full length work, Drenched, premiered at the Absolut Fringe Festival in 2012 and toured the US, while in June 2013 he premiered his second work, Icarus, as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival.

His work has been supported through commissions and residencies from a wide range of arts organisations including the Arts Council, Culture Ireland, Dance Ireland and Dance Limerick.  He trained at the Legat School in East Sussex and Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Luke’s work has been variously described as “passionate”, “fearless” and “mesmerising”, appealing “to anyone who appreciates beautiful movement and dance theatre”.

Tickets are €12/€10 (conc.).  Further information and booking details are available from www.dancelimerick.ie.

Local Arts News: Good and Bad

Welcome to 2015!! After an truly packed arts calendar in Limerick last year, I hope that momentum will carry on and I’m sure the community- whether practitioners or audience members- will guarantee this. Limerick will be one of the cities vying for European Capital of Culture 2020 and after a great City of Culture 2014 year, we’ve shown that ‘Yes We Can/Is Féidir Linn’ spirit that is essential to win the prestigious bid. Now onto some news…

The Good…

The Arts Council has awarded €1.8m in funding to Limerick arts organisations—a 3.5% increase on last year, The Limerick Leader has reported.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra received €860,000; the Association of Irish Choirs received €125,000; Limerick Printmakers, €60,000; Fresh Film Festival, €53,000; Dance Limerick, €125,000; EVA International, €222,000; Limerick City Gallery of Art, €112,500; Limerick Arts and Culture Centre (69 O’Connell Street, former Belltable) and the Lime Tree Theatre, €125,000 and Friars’ Gate Theatre, €20,000. The Limerick City and County Arts Service received €102,000.

The results of the funding means that there will be some great theatre, dance, music, film, visual art and more in local venues this year. Huzzah!!

On the Wire (7)On The Wire—a Made in Limerick project for City of Culture 2014—has been nominated for a prestigious Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Production. The piece, about World War I as seen through a local lens, was really excellent and a true highlight of the year. The atmospheric venue in the Sailor’s Home was complemented by amazing set/production design and the performances were superb. On the Wire was written and performed by Marie Boylan, Mike Finn, Conor Madden, Amanda Minihan and Shane Whisker as was directed by Terry O’Donovan  for Wildebeest Theatre Company.

Limerick City of Culture was also nominated for the Judges’ Special Award. Congrats to every involved with both nominees. The awards ceremony take place on February 22, at the National Concert Hall in Dublin.

The Bad…

It is with heavy heart that I say that one of my favourite regular theatre fixtures in Limerick, Theatre at the Savoy, is taking a break for the next while. The good news is that the venue, the Savoy Hotel, was purchased last year and will undergo some refurbishment—including the areas near the lobby where the monthly event has taken place since 2012.

A statement released said that “regrettably, Theatre at the Savoy will…go dark for the next few months”.

“Theatre at the Savoy opened its doors at The Savoy Hotel in Limerick in 2012 and since then has brought almost 70 different quality national and international productions to Limerick. In three short years, Theatre at the Savoy became a renowned fixture on the theatre touring circuit.”2dbbda33-04c7-4c82-ba5c-b866bd033f7c

Colm O’Brien, Maeve McGrath and Pius McGrath of Payday Productions (which ran Theatre at the Savoy) acknowledged “the management and staff of The Savoy Hotel along with the management of The Lime Tree Theatre for invaluable support over the past three years. Most importantly we would like to thank our loyal audience and members of the local press without whom Theatre at the Savoy would simply have been a good idea, instead of the cultural success it became. Thank you all”

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing lots of the productions over the last few years and greatly enjoyed most of them. Personal highlights for me included I Do, Bandit, My Life in Dresses, The Sweet Shop, The Wheelchair on my Face, Dorset Street Toys, A Chip in the Sugar and Songs of Joyce to name but a few. The event showed that there is a hunger for lunchtime/café style theatre in the city. We can only hope that Theatre at the Savoy returns with gusto later in 2015.

Chaplet of Roses at Dance Limerick tomorrow (Thurs Dec 18)

Photo credit: Alina O’Shaughnessy

Photo credit: Alina O’Shaughnessy

Chaplet of Roses, a new work by locally-based choreographer/ dancer, Angie Smalis, and performance artist, Colin Gee, will premiere tomorrow (Thursday December 18) at Dance Limerick (St John’s Church, John’s Square) at 8pm.

“Inspired by the 15th century tapestry Honor Making a Chaplet of Roses, this beautiful new dance work is a contemporary interpretation of an allegory of courtly love depicted in the artwork…The tapestry was created circa 1410 in The Netherlands and was itself inspired by romances of the 12th and 14th centuries. It is now held in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Four characters are depicted in the work: one is making a crown of roses with the caption ‘I am Honor who makes chaplets for my children’; a second says ‘To please my friend better, I shall put on this pretty hat’; an inscription above the third identifies him as ‘Pleasure’ while the fourth has the caption ‘Homage to my good lady, my protectress’.”

Colin Gee and Angie Smalis are developing this work while in residence at Dance Limerick this month. The duo first met during a Mediated Bodies workshop in Ireland in 2006, which explored the interaction of dance, choreography and media technologies, and made a video together in 2009.  Chaplet of Roses is a natural progression of this interest, offering a perspective of the work through an online video, in addition to the live performance.

Photo credit: Alina O’Shaughnessy

Photo credit: Alina O’Shaughnessy

Reflecting on the work, Colin Gee said: “This project seeks to explore a contemporary interpretation of a courtly love allegory as a notion of individual and community morality…Our interest centres on how honour is linked to community and moral accountability through the consideration of multiple perspectives: the viewer’s and those of the figures depicted in the tapestry”.

Angie Smalis added: “This is a really interesting process, exploring the characters in this beautiful artwork, what they represent and how they relate to each other. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work with Colin on this and I love the idea of creating the different perspectives of the work through the film and the live performance. It will be quite different, so I really hope lots of people will come to see what it’s all about!”
Tickets are €12/€10.  For further information and booking, see www.dancelimerick.ie. Chaplet of Roses is funded by the Arts Council through the Dance Project Award and supported by Dance Limerick.

I want to give a special mention to Dance Limerick for the team’s great work since its formation. It has brought much needed life to its base as a venue over the past year—hosting a broad range of events—as well as acting as a resource organisation for professional dance in Limerick and beyond. Dance Limerick hosts performances, talks, classes, workshops, projects and residencies and provides opportunities for dance to be created, experienced and discussed in many ways, by all ages.  For further details, see www.dancelimerick.ie.