News from Planet Busy: Winter/Spring Programme Announced

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Busy times ahead!   The coming two months shall see four theatre projects in which I have a hand hitting Irish stages from West Cork to North Monaghan…

I am proud to announce that BRONTE, A SOLO PORTRAIT OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE (poster above) which had a single performance recently at the Bronte Homeland Museum in County Down, will have its ROI premiere at Ardgillan Castle in Fingal on December 15th; The following week I will give two special pre-Christmas performances of THE DUBLINERS DILEMMA, one in Dublin and one in Drogheda. Meanwhile THE GORGALS PLAY, collectively written by 24 children in Tydavnet, Co. Monaghan during my residency there, will premiere on Dec 21st in the presence of a government minister, and THE BIG FELLOW will commence a five week national tour in late January.

Produced by Vere Lenox-Conyngham of Anaverna House in North Louth (where it will have a second performance on Dec 16th), BRONTE is a one-woman show featuring a terrific performance by Sharon McArdle.  I have been privileged to be their guest director.  Different from the fast, episodic, physical style I tend to favour when I get a chance to make new work of my own, it has been a lovely experience to work on this gentle and quite beautiful evocation of the life of a remarkable 19th century English woman with strong Irish links.  Booking for Ardgillan is via http://ardgillancastle.ie/bronte-a-solo-portrait-of-charlotte-bronte/ and for Anaverna via  042 93 71490.

Meanwhile, four and a half years after its premiere at The Little Duke in Drogheda and three and a half after its Bloomsday revival at Bewleys Cafe Theatre, THE DUBLINERS DILEMMA will be given a special one-off Christmas performance in each of these venues which were so important to its development.  Returning to performing after a short gap of 22 years in 2012 was … well, a challenge, and a game-changer for me both personally and professionally.  The show has played in almost every county of Ireland, at several literary and arts festivals at home and overseas in such places as Oslo and Moscow.  I am delighted to respond now to requests from some very supportive people to stage it again for just two performances, 6.15 on Dec 21st at Bewleys (booking https://billetto.ie/events/the-dubliners-dilemma-0372ee) and the previous evening, Dec 20th at The Little Duke in Drogheda where it had its first ever performance.  The Duke show will have a bonus feature in the form of an animated reading of the Christmas Dinner scene from Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  (booking via https://billetto.ie/events/the-dubliners-dilemma).  WARNING:  BE CAREFUL TO BOOK FOR THE CORRECT EVENING AND VENUE…

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Another event happening also on December 21st and again on the afternoon of 22nd in the presence of Arts Minister Heather Humphries is THE GORGALS PLAY at St. Dympna’s National School in Tydavner, County Monaghan.  It was an absolute pleasure to work with the children of 3rd, 4th and 5th class of this tiny rural school a few miles from the Knockatallon and Edenmore primary schools which I attended half-a-century ago in rural Monaghan.  My task was to facilitate the children as they dreamed up and wrote down a one-hour play set in modern times in a village a little bit like, but quite distinct from, their own village of Tydavnet.  The script has now been taken by Ms Coll, their teacher, herself no stranger to drama, and brought to the stage.  I am beyond excited to see it.  Open to parents and invited guests – a very special cultural event in a hidden beautiful corner or Ireland.

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And then the big one.  In the coming days, we shall formally announce a major five-week, 16-venue Spring tour of the Co-Motion Media tour of THE BIG FELLOW, my 2016 play based on Frank O’Connor’s 1937 biography of Michael Collins.  Premiered last May in a co-production with Drogheda Arts Festival and some financial support from Louth County Council, the Jan/Feb 2017 tour is an unsubsidised undertaking more daunting than anything I have done in a number of years.  Responses to the show on its first outing in Drogheda, at Dublin’s Smock Alley and on a try-out 6-venue tour of the North East/Midlands were very positive.  We are hoping for a similar level of audience interest and enthusiasm around the country in the coming weeks.  We begin symbolically a mile from Collins’ birthplace in Clonakilty on Jan 24th and conclude five weeks later a mile from the avenue named after him in North Dublin, at Axis Ballymun on Feb 25th, covering Donegal, Mayo, Kerry, Waterford, Wicklow, Armagh and several counties in-between.  More particulars and booking links will be published on this website in the coming days.

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