THE GALWAY Theatre Festival officially opens tomorrow and it promises to serve up a feast of theatre in all its forms over nine event-packed days, continuing up to Saturday May 7.
Among the highlights is the premiere of Drawing Crosses on a Dusty Windowpane, a new play by Dylan Coburn Byrne, winner of Fishamble’s Best New Writing Award in 2013. A poetic act of remembrance and questioning. Performer Claire Galvin stands on stage and shares a portrait of a person, a place, and a time that no longer exist. Drawing Crosses... explores loss, love, family, and aging, and asks some hard questions about contemporary Ireland.
“People will relate to the play on lots of different levels,” says Galvin. “When someone passes away you can never really know the answers for sure, but you can still ask questions. There are questions posed in the play and I think they will definitely get people thinking. Dylan’s text is absolutely beautiful. It’s a show I’m very passionate about and that makes it more exciting when you’re part of a show you care about.”
Drawing Crosses..., directed by Liam Halligan, runs at Druid’s Mick Lally Theatre from tomorrow up to and including Monday May 2 at 6pm.
Blue Teapot Theatre Company takes to the Town Hall Theatre main stage on Tuesday May 3 at 1pm and 8pm with a new production of Eileen Gibbons’ Waiting for Elvis. The play was first produced by Electric Bridget for the 2008 Galway Arts Festival, and was later staged by Axis, Ballymun, in 2013.
In the play we meet Lisa Marie who spends her days on a park bench waiting for Elvis. One day Elizabeth blusters into her life and nothing will be the same for either woman again. This production came about after Blue Teapot’s artistic director Petal Pilley read Gibbon’s play.
“After reading Waiting for Elvis I saw that it was a perfect fit for our actors, the rhythm of the text, the sensibility of the characters and as the story of the main protagonists are believable for our actors," says Pilley.
According to Eileen Gibbons: “It is really exciting to be working with Blue Teapot’s skilled and talented cast. The play has had more than one incarnation and this opportunity to further develop and expand the script is a real indulgence. This adaptation has given me an amazing opportunity to give life to the play’s peripheral characters. I’m thrilled to be working with Petal who as a director has an amazing blend of radical thinking and finely wrought artistic vision. I know that the work is being cared for and I feel an enormous sense of joy at watching life being breathed into it again.”
Running at the same venue is My Poet Dark and Slender, based on a story by Padraic O’Conaire, and staged by Mmm Theatre. Set in 1915, it centres on a bored housewife called Eileen who embarks on a brazen affair with a handsome poet. The production features mask, stylised movement, and an original score by Aindrias de Staic.
“The story is a memory told from Eileen’s perspective,” explains director Róisín Stack, “and because memories are often patchy and unreliable, we’re taking artistic liberties in how we present her story. We have lights that cast shadows, music that warps out of time, characters played by everyone in the cast, and a lot of stylised movement. It’s not a straight-forward piece of theatre by any means.
“I came across the story in Scoithscealta and was first drawn to it because of its title,” Stack continues. “Then when I read it I was really surprised to find it was quite a passionate story. It has a lot of imagery about the devil, fire, passion, and it is beautifully written with a great twist in it as well. It’s told from the woman’s perspective which is unusual for the time. We’ve used O’Conaire’s story as a springboard, we did a lot of devising and brought in other material; a Dorothy Parker reading, contemporary songs, a re-mixed John McCormack ballad, a speech by Daniel O’Connell, writing from Joan Didion, so we’ve looked beyond the original story in putting together the show.”
The cast for My Poet Dark and Slender includes Daniel Guinnane, Jo Lopez, Lucia Smyth, Muirenn Ní Raghallaigh, and Réidín Ní Thuama, while Conor Kennedy-Burke is movement director. It is at the Mick Lally Theatre from tomorrow up to and including Monday May 2 at 8.30pm.