Pyjama Girls

August 24, 2010

I went to see Pyjama Girls in the Irish Film Institute this evening.

It was massive.

Living in the city centre, I sometimes see pyjama-clad girls around the place. It’s a Dublin phenomenon and one that’s deserving of Maya Derrington’s documentary treatment in this film.

What was interesting from the film was how self aware the girls were. How they knew that their style was anti-style but they were confident enough to continue on regardless.



More courage than conviction

July 15, 2010

“Doubt requires more courage than conviction does, and more energy; because conviction is a resting place and doubt is infinite; it is a passionate exercise. You may come out of my play uncertain. You may want to be sure. Look down on that feeling. We’ve got to learn to live with a full measure of uncertainty. There is no last word. That’s the silence under the chatter of our time.”

So wrote John Patrick Shanley in his Preface to ‘Doubt, a Parable’, which was written in 2004.

I went along to Shift Theatre Company’s production of ‘Doubt, a Parable’ last night.

I wasn’t familiar with the play at all (it’s a film too with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, so it’s one to add to my list I guess) but I thoroughly enjoyed the performances and the production. Shanley won a Tony award in 2005 for the play, and it really is a stunning piece of writing, tight and evocative.

Starring Niamh Clancy, Glen Forbes, Sarah Allen Clarke, Donna Anita Nikolaisen, directed by Joyce Ward and produced by Bernie McNelis, this Shift production was a wonderful and though-provoking night’s theatre.

Set in 1964 in a Bronx Catholic school, the principal grapples with her doubts, doubts about the parish priest and about her own faith. Still very relevant in the Ireland of 2010, the ending led to an interesting discussion after the play, over a drink in the bar of the Teachers Club.

The performance on Monday night raised over €700 for the charity One in Four, which supports adult victims of child sexual abuse.

The play runs (8pm nightly) until Saturday 17th July, with a matinee (2pm) on Saturday 17th July.

The venue is Theatre@36, 36 Parnell Square West, (The Teachers Club), opposite The Rotunda Hospital, Dublin 1.

Tickets are available from for €15/€12 (booking fee applies).

His mother the longest

June 18, 2010

His & Hers opens in cinemas today. It’s a fantastic documentary by director Ken Wardrop, a day in the life of Irish women, told sequentially from youngest to oldest. Seventy women from the midlands talk about the men in their life, starting with little girls and moving all the way to older women, as they discuss their fathers, boyfriends, husbands, sons.

I saw His & Hers at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival this year, where it won the Audience Award. It’s also scooped the Feature Award at the Galway Film Fleadh, an IFTA for Best Feature Documentary and the Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival 2010.

The tagline is an old Irish proverb:

“A man loves his girlfriend the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.”

I’d like to dispute the veracity of this statement, but it would be pointless, wouldn’t it?

In any case, if you have a chance to see His & Hers, go. It’s refreshing, uplifting and real. And the final evocative shot is inspired.

The incredible hides in the Irish Writers’ Centre

June 14, 2010

I got an email from the Irish Writers’ Centre this morning to say that they’ve been given a grant by the Arts Council under their Touring and Dissemination scheme. The email continues:

“The grant of €27,000 will enable us to mount readings at the Writers’ Centre during the coming autumn and then take them to venues around the country. Most of the money will go towards the reading fees and expenses of the writers involved, but there will also be an element for administration and promotion, so that a core activity of the Centre will now be properly funded. The readings are pitched at promoting prose literature, one of our dedicated activities, and will enable the Centre to develop a countrywide network of collaborators and associates. We are heartened by this endorsement by the Arts Council and the approval it implies of the direction the Irish Writers’ Centre has taken over the past year. It is an important step in our re-instatement as an institution that should be funded from the public purse, and a cause for celebration among the wide range of our voluntary workers, supporters, and the literary community.”

This is great news for the Centre. I did a creative writing course there in late 2004 and went on to publish some stories and poems in a book for charity with some of the people in the group. I had a look online this morning and it’s still out there.

“The men ruined it.”

June 13, 2010

I went to see Bookworms in the Abbey Theatre yesterday, with some friends from my book club. We’ve been meeting once a month, for the guts of three years now. Members have come and gone and come again in some cases.

The formula remains the same, however. We alternate between our respective houses and apartments. We discuss the book and drink some wine. We discuss things other than the book and nibble whatever treats the host has provided. The person who is hosting chooses the book for next month, often offering a choice of two are three, in case too many people have read the first choice.

We’ve read contemporary fiction, mostly, but there have been books on economics and some autobiographies and classics. No plays or poetry so far, and last month one of my rejected suggestions was a graphic novel.

Bernard Farrell’s new play looks at a group of characters before, during and after a book club meeting. Formerly a group consisting solely of women, the members of the book club have agreed to allow their husbands to join them. Chaos ensues. Early on in the play, Jennifer describes the book club as “the last bastion of female exclusivity” and by the time the guests have left Ann pronounces that “the men ruined it.”

As a modern comedy of manners, Bookworms is a refreshing glance at the pressures of life in post Celtic Tiger Ireland. Niall McMonagle, writing in the progamme for Bookworms, says that:

“the book, and everything it stands for  is empowering and important. A book brings us altogether elsewhere. Billy Collins, in his poem Books, reminds us that when we read, we are ‘reading ourselves away from ourselves’ and then we are delivered back, a changed and different being. A book also brings us together.”

It’s not the best play I’ve seen this year, nor the best production. But it’s the one that made me laugh the most.  Books can bring people together, and Farrell’s achievement in Bookworms is to remind us of that fact.

It’s oh so quiet…

June 10, 2010

I love walking through town early in the morning, when the day is just shaking its duvet off and splashing cold water on its face. The footpaths are often wet outside a cafe or shop, having been drowned in anticipation of the footfall to come. Bundles of newspapers and cartons of milk queue outside office buildings. Empty buses trundle past and taxis wait their turn at the rank.

Tonight, walking home along Henry Street, I realised that a June evening can be just as idyllic. It could have been milder tonight but the rain that might have fallen had, eh, taken a raincheck. And maybe it was the fact that the Leaving Certificate exams started today (good luck), but it was oh so very quiet in the city centre.

I hadn’t thought before tonight of Henry Street as prime fodder for a quiet moment – but the fact that nothing much (if anything) opens past 7pm most nights makes it ideal.

The other aspect that was nice was the juxtaposition of the old (the Arnott’s sign) and the new (the Spire), both beautifully vertical.

Dublin can be heaven. At dawn, at dusk. When you least expect it to be.

The biggest wet T-shirt competition in the world

June 7, 2010

Sometimes I wonder if a little part of me thinks I’m a sub-editor in a tabloid newspaper…

Standing on Fitzwilliam Square today, waiting for the Mini Marathon to start. I walked it last year and I’m back again for 2010, in support of the ISPCA. This is the 28th year and the organisers estimate that €14 million will be raised for charity. So far, so admirable.

The crowd is a sea of women, wearing rainbow coloured T-shirts, emblazoned with the logo of their chosen charity.

Ruth Scott (from 2fm) is cheering everyone on from a platform somewhere, organising a Mexican Wave and reminding people not to throw their bin bag ponchos on the ground.

It’s raining. Heavily. Did I mention that?

The kind of sloppy wet kisses rain that gets you soaked in two minutes flat, but somehow makes you feel warm in spite of itself. The kind of rain you only really get in an Irish summer.

Even though I can’t see Ruth, it’s pretty clear she’s dancing about to the music – the playlist that would fit right in on a sweaty Friday night in Copperface Jacks. Michael Buble, Abba, S Club 7.

Ruth cheers again and tells us that this is the biggest womens’ event anywhere in the world.

And I turn to my friend and say: “So does that make it the biggest wet T-shirt contest in the world, too?”