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.

Giant video projection, LANDLOCKED, to open tomorrow (Dec 12) until Jan 3

A002_C004_0609K1A large-scale outdoor projection of a series of documentary video portraits, LANDLOCKED, is being launched tomorrow (Friday December 12) at 5.30pm in the Thomas Street Community Gardens.

The work by video artist Christina Gangos will run until January 3 and will feature 10 people “who form the fabric of Limerick” projected on a large city wall on Thomas Street in Limerick City centre.

It was shot by the artist when she was living in Limerick and all the participants stand in silence. Participants were asked “to contemplate life-changing events for 10 minutes while they were filmed. Their thoughts are kept private, yet the camera documents the physical process, the slight movements and gentle motions of a body in thought”.

The people who took part in the recording range in age from eight years old to 50 (at the time of filming).

The project aims to create “a space for silence and stillness above the busy Christmas city streets”.

The giant video projections will be 20m x 11.25m and will be visible on the wall above the Thomas Street Community Gardens during the hours of darkness. The optimum time to view this work is from 5.30pm-7am.

Commenting on the installation of this work, the artist Christina Gangos, said she was “very excited to have the opportunity to project this work in a large-scale outdoor location”.

“So often people and their thoughts are invisible to us, in LANDLOCKED I wanted to create a space for us to commune with others, without shame, social coding or language,” she added.

Ms Gangos is an independent documentary filmmaker, who lived in Limerick city for six years and is currently based in Athens, Greece. She studied journalism and history at the American College of Greece and then went on to do a Masters in Documentary by Practice at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her films have been shown at the National Portrait Gallery in London, Center Pompidou in Paris, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Gate Theater London, IFI Dublin and various major festivals.

“Her films aim to capture everyday moments and processes, inundated with the ability to disclose reality to the patient viewer. Stripping layer by layer of social representation and décor by elongating time to its normal length, her works in film are documents of bare living.”

Originally created with support and funding from the Arts Council, the exhibition and installation of LANDLOCKED in this prominent outdoor city location is is made possible by the support of Limerick City of Culture 2014. The support of Tony Clarke from City Centre Car Park was also much appreciated.

For more information, see www.landlocked-ireland.com.

Randolf and the Crokers release debut single

Hangin' Single CoverLimerick band, Randolf & the Crokers, will release their debut single, Hangin’ tomorrow (Friday December 12).

The six piece have been gigging a lot locally and any time I’ve had the pleasure of hearing them—most recently supporting Brad Pitt Light Orchestra at the speigeltent at the Culture & Chips Festival—they’ve  been great. Their sound is a lovely blend of blues, country and rock and the single is no exception.

The track will be available on digital download through all the major retailers. It was recorded and mixed in the Lakelands Studios in Athlone by Mike O’Dowd and mastered by Wav Mastering in Limerick by Richard Dowling .

To hear ‘Hangin’ live, the band is having a release party on December 18 in Cobblestone Joe’s—co-inciding with the premiere of the music video for the single, shot by Shane Serrano.

The band formed in 2011 and is now taking the plunge with their first single and an EP in the works for early 2015. Over the past few years the band has played many support slots playing with the likes of O Emperor, Mark Geary, Moscow Metro, John Blek & the Rats and The Lost Brothers.

For more information on the band see www.facebook.com/randolfmusic or @RandolfMusic.

The local music scene has had a stellar year with the success of Fox Jaw, Leading Armies, Moscow Metro and Protobaby to name but a few. Roll on 2015 and more great music!

 

Big Beautiful & Oldest Woman subjects for local theatre/opera this week

2014 is coming to an end and so is Limerick’s tenure as City of Culture but there is still some great work to come so do keep an eye on the local press and social media for details.

big_beautiful_woman_156x110Two such quality productions are on this week. First up, local theatre company, Magic Roundabout premiere their new play, Big Beautiful Woman, by Darren Maher.

It will run from tomorrow (Wednesday December 10) to Saturday December 13 at 8pm nightly at the Red Cross Hall on Cecil Street. This venue was the off-site setting for the now defunct Belltable Arts Centre when it was undergoing refurbishment and it’s a great space. I’m delighted it is now a new Theatre & Performance Hub for local practitioners to develop/stage work—a purpose it was mooted for way back in 2011 but has now thankfully fulfilled.

The blurb is as follows: “Under the real shadow of a gargantuan puppet, and the figurative shadow of a looming deadline, a ‘resting’ actor and a would-be author pitch a series of increasingly bizarre narratives at each other in an attempt to find the true and historical Limerick-based story that will wow an audience and propel them to the big time.”

“They are hampered in their labours by the attentions of distractingly beautiful French people, a series of embarrassing costume malfunctions, unexpected physical exhaustion and an inability to commit to any one true story that can sum up the city that they love.”

Tickets: Adults €15/Concession €12 and all Wednesday tickets are €10. Booking on 085-2085737 or magicroundabouttheatre@gmail.com.

This Friday and Saturday (December 12 and 13) The Lime Tree Theatre and Wide Open Opera will present The Oldest Woman in Limerick.

“As you casually pass an elderly woman in the street or on the bus, do you ever pause to consider the treasure trove of life experience that lies within? If her thoughts and memories could sing, what would they say? If her reflections, achievements and regrets could come to life, what would they be like? The Oldest Woman in Limerick is a unique performance celebrating the individual lives and remarkable stories of older people from the city of Limerick told through the medium of opera.”

Devised by award-winning team of Brian Irvine (music) and John McIlduff (text), this opera actually searches for the oldest woman in Limerick and in doing so meets up with scores of individuals with plenty to say.

“Everything is documented and anything might surface in the opera. Bizarre encounters, chance meetings and poignant reflections are all in the mix. Performed by a specially assembled team of singers and instrumentalists with locally based choirs, this specially commissioned opera will engage and entertain you, reflecting a great range of human emotions and celebrating the life-affirming joy of the human voice.”

The cast includes Sylvia O’Brien, Sharon Carty, Emma Nash, Rachel Croash and Limerick’s Sarah Shine.

Tickets are €25/Concessions €20 and are available on 061-774774 and www.limetreetheatre.ie.