Galway Advertiser 2002/2002_08_15/GA_15082002_E1_039.pdf
[ents] Mai day in the Town Hall with Our lady Of Sligo
ONIGHT THURSDAY August IS sees the opening of the Town Hall's major in-house show for this year, the first Irish production of Sebastian Barry's acclaimed Our Lady of Sligo. independence and after independence that whole life slipped away. We meet Mai in her last hours when all these memories are coming back but they don't come back in sequence which is very clever, the audience finds itself jumping from 1929 to 1945, knitting the story together as it proceeds. And it's a story with a lot of resonance for a Galway audience as Mai was one of the first female graduates of UCG." The role of Mai's husband Jack is taken by another eminent and wellloved Irish actor, Brendan Conroy whose many memorable roles include Peter in The Irish RM. Horst in Red Kettle's Bent and, more recently. Tommy Clock in Island's exhilarating Pigtown. His own observations on the play are typically perceptive; "It's a meeting of public performance and private story. I think writing it offered a way for Sebastian to explore his own life and to fill out blanks in it. He's discovering internal things about himself from writing the story. Sebastian told us you don't get these types of people anymore. He's clued into that moment in Irish history where there were great expectations from the new Irish free state but those hopes were disappointed. "Mai and Jack are both unfulfilled and bitter. There are all these personal tragedies that Mai has suffered, the loss of a child for instance, and all these things result in her drinking. The bed is like a Pandora's Box where all these things emerge. The nurse is the only character who walks in there with a safe, comforting energy the rest are all damaged in some way. 1 think it's great for the Town Hall to be doing this kind of play, it's not an easy commercial summer choice." Our Lady of Sligo may not be an 'easy' choice of play for the Town Hall but, with the likes of Fedlcma Cullen and Brendan Conroy in the cast, it has all the makings of being a successful one. The play has a fascinating story to tell and there's a poetic quality to Sebastian's writing that I really like. Some of his turns of phrase are so memorable and create a wonderful picture. One of the challenges in performing it is to balance that poetic side with the characters' reality." The characters' reality is all the more palpable, given that they are actual members of Barry's own family, including his mother Joan O'Hara now a well known actress (she plays Eunice The play's first production, in in Fair City). Did the play's nakedly London in 1998, received rave reviews autobiographical nature affect Cullen's being described as "one of the best approach to it? plays ever about alcoholism" and "a "They're his grandparents he's story about dying that is all about life, writing about and you do start off and a story about politics that is all being very conscious of that in about individual people". The play's rehearsal, and his mother Joan features political context stems from Mai and as well. But once you get into the play Jack's status as middle-class Catholics you forget that it's Joan, the person whose social and cultural aspirations you know, and it becomes Joanie the are stifled by the insular, conservative character Sebastian has written about. ethos of the de Valera state. He writes from his own imagination and there is a line between what In this new production the role of Mai is taken by one of Ireland's actually happened and what he puts in the text. It's not a historical biography. foremost actors, Fedelma Cullen, last In fact, Mai died before Sebastian was seen in Galway as a memorable Lady Bracknell in the Town H a l l s 1999 born so he never even met her, though he knew his grandfather Jack very production of The Importance of Being well. Yet in the play both characters are Earnest. She's a former member of the Abbey company, with whom she fully developed, you'd never guess that appeared in nearly 100 productions, of Jack was the only one he knew personally." which her favourites were Viola in Twelfth Night directed by Joe Dowling Though Mai and Jack's marriage, as and the two Noras of Ibsen's A Doll's portrayed by Barry, is far from happy House and O'Casey's Plough and the and is blighted by the pair's drinking, Stars. She also retains fond memories there is a degree of love between of playing Pegeen Mike in a which endures through all the heart production of Synge's Playboy Of The ache and misery that they endure and Western World directed by Siobhan inflict upon each other. McKenna. She's an ideal choice for the "Yes, it's a huge love story," Cullen role of Mai, not least because she's concurs. "They love each other but already thoroughly familiar with can't live with each other. They spend Barry's work having read several of his their time tearing each other apart. novels and seen nearly all his plays When they were young, they didn't the one exception, funnily enough, take part in the new Republican being Our Lady of Sligo. Ireland. Mai and Jack talk of university "I'm glad now I didn't see it," she and tennis parties and dancing at Strandhill. They're anti-Dev, because declares , "because I like to approach something without pre-conceptions. they had a good lifestyle before The play is based around the character of Barry's own grandmother, Mai O'Hara, and presents a searingly honest portrayal of her troubled life, stormy marriage, alcoholism, and final illness. Set in Jervis St hospital in 1953, the cancer-wracked Mai is visited by her husband Jack and daughter Joanie as well as morphineinduced dreams and memories of her youth, a carefree time full of hope and promise that was gradually soured by disappointment and bitter experience.
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i Conroy and Ketteima Cullen in Our Lady Of Sligo
It's all in the
SOMEONE ONCE said that "a painting is never finished it is merely a b a n d o n e d " , the a r t is of course knowing when to abandon it. Phyllis Del Vecchio manages to make her watercolours look complete without overdramatising her subjects. Taking inspiration from the countryside around her house she has captured moments with birds, framed in their natural surroundings. Holding the image of a thrush, a wren, or a couple of magpies is no problem for a woman who can lure a great tit to her fingertips.
the eye. Useful, especially when her winged subjects appear to want to camouflage themselves. Del Vecchio both in her paintings and their titles strives to capture nature in all its moods, from the crisp stillness of a snowy winter morning, to a gale lashing the countryside. Not all the watercolours arc of birds, Broken Out seems to celebrate the first signs of spring as a spray of daffodils sing in luminous yellow against dull brown and murky green. But her best work is done when she is playing the voyeur on the birds, hidden away in a stone wall or a The danger painting with watercolours is the mass of foliage. They are there for us to observe: tendency to drift into chocolate-box territory. roosting in Two For Joy, feeding in Winter Fare, However Del Vecchio has allowed the wild and nesting in The Clutch, or in more enigmatic moments She chaotic nature of the habitats to inform her work. like in The Savant or The Aristocrat. Working with a palette that is full of the muted blues, instinctively urges the viewer to look quietly as if browns, and greens of winter she makes no attempt any sudden move will disturb the peace in a flurry of to "tidy-up" the landscape. And when she uses a feathers. MJci flash of colour for a flower or a leaf, it simply draws
KONN 2 0 0 2 . Galway'* trad*!--I festival kicked nff there art still a aaatiiir of The festival is organised by the Galway School of Irish TrarJttioaal Manic. Tonight Thursday August IS. in the Great Hotel. Eyre Square, two of Ireland* exponents of the ataa ana staging. J o h n n y Mhairtia Learal and Josie She . o n Jack MacDonnchadha. Inun Cams arc recipients of the Foam 2002 Hall of F
As part of the Session Trail on Friday August 16 The Crossroads Ceil/ Band will provide the entertainment in the Commercial Boat Club. Woodquay. The festival concludes on Saturday August 17, m the Crane Bar at 6.30pm with Session na aAmhraa. This session will feature Tippcrary born siagcr Dick Hogan as apodal guest. Hogan is noted as a master of the comical song and has long-time with Galway, facing a regular the 1960s. Andrews