Charles Dickens’ festive classic, A Christmas Carol returns to the Town Hall Theatre next Monday and Tuesday night in a one-man show, adapted and performed by English actor Clive Francis.
This show received standing ovations at the venue when it played there last December as part of a 12-date tour of Ireland. It’s being brought back by Wicklow-born producer and actor Conor Sheridan, who trained in London where he is currently based.
He first saw Clive – a well-established actor, who has worked with companies from the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre and regularly features in West End productions – in this show three years ago and describes it as “the most wonderful 70 minutes I have ever spent in a theatre”.
“It was also the first time I got to grips with the [Christmas Carol] story, which is really about the human condition and human redemption and getting someone to look at themselves,” Conor observes. “You can’t watch Clive in A Christmas Carol and not see something of yourself.”
Clive Francis first crossed paths with Dickens’ renowned skinflint, Ebenezer Scrooge while playing the role in Ian Judge’s acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of A Christmas Carol at London’s Barbican Theatre in 1994 and 1995.
The RADA trained actor, who made his West End debut in 1966 opposite Donald Sinden in There’s A Girl in My Soup at the Globe Theatre loved the part. After it ended and inspired by Dickens’ first performance of A Christmas Carol in Birmingham Town Hall in December 1853, Clive created his own one-man show. He is the first actor since Dickens to give a one-man performance at Birmingham Town Hall, where his production has become an annual event and attracts a huge audience.
Clive narrates the Christmas Carol story and also plays every notable character in the piece, which was originally written by Dickens to make people aware of the scandalous conditions children were suffering in factories and mines around Britain, many of them working as much as 18 hours a day for barely the price of a loaf of bread..
When Conor first saw Clive perform it, he felt it would be a perfect touring show. This year it’s been in London, Bath’s Theatre Royal and of course, Birmingham, where it was attended by over 1,000 people. Now it’s back in Ireland.
“It’s a great piece of theatre. It’s simple and dramatic and I remarked that maybe should do something more with it. Suddenly we were putting a tour together.”
The show has gone down really well in Ireland, partly because Irish people love descriptive writing and that’s something Dickens is an expert at, Conor feels.
“With this show, you get both dialogue and description. And Clive’s eloquent style of performance means he is suited to that kind of period drama.”
• Tickets for A Christmas Carol cost €20 / €16 or €60 for a family ticket (for four people) and can be booked at 091-569777, tht.ie or at 091-569777.
Pixies slot proves time is now for the Clockworks
Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell
When Pixies were announced as Galway International Arts Festival headliners way back in 2019, a promising Loughrea four-piece were fresh from relocating to London and bullishly embracing their role as the new faces of former Oasis manager Alan McGee’s Creation 23 record label.
Two years on, the US alt-rock pioneers are yet to grace the Big Top – but the Clockworks, made up of James McGregor, Tom Freeman, Seán Connolly and Damian Greaney, are set to make a US debut in their company with a series of support slots that cement their place as one of Galway’s biggest artistic exports.
In less than six weeks’ time, Pixies will embark on a September tour of the states with the Clockworks by their side for six gigs. The Galway group play their own maiden headline US show in New York’s Mercury Loung on September 8.
On their horizon too, is an end-of-year Irish tour with Dublin indie-rock outfit Inhaler as well as a host of festival appearances, barring cancellations.
With news of the Pixies tour coming in the same week NewDad were announced as support for Fontaines D.C.’s highly anticipated Belfast show on August 13, it is powerful evidence of the ground Galway acts continue to break.
“It’s very exciting to have loads of gigs lined up after absolutely nothing for so long,” James admits.
“It’s really nice to feel like we’re going to hit the ground running and when Pixies came through, that was just amazing and what a way to start. It’s our first time gigging in America – my first time going there personally.
“All four of us are massive fans of Pixies too. Any time they’d come to Ireland, we’d always try and throw our hat in the ring for a support slot and just to think that now we’ll be going around the States with them is insane.”
Read the full interview in this week’s Groove Tube, in the Connacht Tribune – on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital version from www.connachttribune.ie
‘World in a Window’ – a unique perspective of lockdown life
A new exhibition, Our World in a Window, which is currently running in Galway City, focuses on the experiences of children who have been living with long-term health conditions during lockdown
Facilitated by Helium Arts, the national children’s arts and health charity, the exhibition features animations and mechanised artwork produced by young people from across Ireland who took part in Helium’s remote programme ‘Distance Creates’.
Our World in a Window can be seen until August 4 at Galway City Library before it goes on tour to Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Longford.
Since last February, children aged 9-12 who are living with long-term health conditions have been exploring the world of animation, guided by Helium artist, Chelsea Canavan. From tinfoil and claymation characters to foam sculptures and hand-drawn illustrations, these young creators have brought their stories to life in unique and imaginative ways.
The origins of Our World in a Window date back to the beginning of Covid. That was when Helium Arts began adapting its usual in-person programmes, moving to digital and postal formats to allow vulnerable young people to be creative from the safety of their homes. The goal was to offer respite during a time of social distancing and to support the youngsters’ mental health, which is part of Helium’s brief.
In non-Covid times, Helium Arts supports sick children via arts-based projects in hospital, community and public settings. More than 5,000 children and their families have availed of its service since 2010.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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126 Gallery fundraising for new studio spaces
The artist-run 126 Gallery and Studios, based in St Bridget’s Place in Galway City, has established a satellite studio space on nearby Saint Francis Street, in response to members’ need for working spaces that are affordable, secure and easy to access. The new Barton Studios will host four studio spaces and the artists using them will have access to 126’s main facilities.
Submissions for Barton Studios and any further spaces are open to current members of 126, in recognition of those artists and creatives who have supported the members-run gallery over the past 16 years.
The group is currently raising money to fit out the studios and because normal methods such as table-quizzes and its ‘drink and draw’ nights are out of bounds, the 126 steering committee has turned to GoFundMe to try and raise €2,000, which is what they estimate it will cost.
If any extra money is raised, it will be used to subsidise the rest of costs for the studios to artists for the remainder of 2021. Some €1,800 would be needed to lower the rent to €50 per week for each artist. A breakdown of all costs will be posted on 126gallery.com and made available to donors.
Initially, the studios will have a communal computer, a private workspace with wi-fi, and access to all resources at 126’s main facility, just six minutes’ walk away. Active studio members will have free 126 membership. The mission of 126 is to support its members to work and to access opportunities, supports, and spaces. With that in mind, the gallery team is available for one-to-one conversations to facilitate group engagement between both facilities, or with other organisations in Galway.
To contribute, go to www.gofundme.com/f/barton-studios-2021. For more information on how to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.