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Award allows Fregoli reach new heights

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Jarlath Tivnan, Kate Murray, Peter Shine and Eilish McCarthy, who portray life for children of the 1990s in Fregoli Theatre's new production, The Pleasure Ground.

Fregoli Theatre Company will enjoy a few firsts when they stage their latest work, The Pleasure Ground, at the Town Hall Theatre next Friday and Saturday, August 21 and 22.

The Pleasure Ground is their 20th show, but this will be their first time on the main stage of the city theatre – until now Fregoli have played the Town Hall Studio when they have performed in this venue.

The Pleasure Ground, set in a West of Ireland town, also marks the first time Fregoli have tackled a two-act play, although their one-act dramas have toured at home and abroad.

And Fregoli are capping their achievement by being the first group to have won the Michael Diskin Bursary, a €5,000 award commemorating the late manager of the Town Hall Theatre, who died in 2012.

Understandably the director of The Pleasure Ground and Fregoli co-founder Maria Tivnan is thrilled, if a little apprehensive, about all these developments.

“This play has been stewing a long time,” she says.

“The Christmas before last, myself [and Fregoli colleagues] Kate Murray, Jarlath Tivnan and Rob Mc Feely met in Tí Neachtain to talk about the year ahead. I said I wanted to do a play about the West of Ireland; a big play that would be in the voice of young people.

“I wanted to do something on the fate of West of Ireland towns,” expands Maria, who is originally from Boyle in Co Roscommon.

“We are all living in Galway, Cork and Dublin, but we will lose a lot if we lose those towns,” she adds, referring to people in their 30s and 20s, the most recent generations to have moved away from rural Ireland.

Maria, “a child of the 1980s”, set up Fregoli in 2007 after studying psychology at NUIG followed by an MA in drama at UCD.

The cast of The Pleasure Ground – Kate Murray, Peter Shine, Eilish McCarthy and Jarlath Tivnan – are “children of the 1990s”.

There were huge changes between those decades, she adds. Mobile phones became ubiquitous in the late 1990s, as did money. It seemed like the 1990s’ generation had it all. But while while Maria and her peers from the 1980s found employment when they left college, the economy had collapsed 10 years on, leaving the children of the 1990s with no work.

The Pleasure Ground explores the dilemmas of that generation, via four friends who have gone their separate ways, but come home for a local funeral.

They meet up at their teenage haunt, the town park and playground, known as the Pleasure Ground. The town is dying, the Pleasure Ground’s glory has faded, and life isn’t matching up to expectations.

The four spend an evening together when buried secrets become unearthed, past grievances boil over, and old scores are settled.

“These characters are 24 and have a lot to learn,” observes Maria. The Pleasure Ground was staged at Nuns Island Arts Centre as a ‘work in progress’ during May’s Galway Theatre Festival when it showed great promise.

The cast performed the first act in a couple of different ways, after which Maria and the actors discussed its development with the audience. The first act was, and remains in the traditional Fregoli style, she says now. That means various character changes as people play out their memories, dancing and singing, not in real time.

The second act, which wasn’t performed then, is largely dialogue-based and is in real time, a departure for Fregoli.

“It’s more measured but it’s where the big revelations take place, when all you’ve learned in the first act comes to a head,” says Maria.

The drama has been largely scripted by Jarlath Tivnan, with input from fellow cast members and Maria. Jarlath is Maria’s younger cousin and also grew up in Boyle. Like her, he moved to Galway where he works as an actor with companies such as Decaden.

For more of Judy Murphy’s interview with Fregoli see this week’s Tribune

Connacht Tribune

Powerful debut novel from adopted Galwegian Edel

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Author and journalist Edel Coffey. Her debut novel Breaking Point is a gripping read. Photo Ger Holland.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Two years ago, journalist Edel Coffey made a New Year’s resolution – a short but powerful one.  “I decided on ‘achievement over perfection’,” says the Dubliner who has been living in Galway for the past six years. “You don’t have to do everything perfectly. And if you’re not obsessed with doing everything perfectly, you might be able to do everything.”

Having made that decision, she began working on what’s become her debut novel, Breaking Point, which has just been published and which is a compelling read.

Set in New York, it centres on Susannah, a high-achieving paediatrician, a wife and mother, an author and broadcaster whose life is choreographed to the last. On a morning when her rigid routine is disrupted, Susannah makes a fatal error while running on autopilot. It results in the death of her baby, who has been left in the back seat of the car.

This wealthy woman who seemed to have it all, is put on trial for negligence. The media converge, eager for every last detail of her life and lifestyle. Among the journalists is Adelaide, a woman who has also had to face her demons. Edel set the story in New York because the US social welfare system isn’t exactly renowned for maternity care. So, it’s more extreme than Ireland but the issues are the same, she says. And while Covid-19 initially seemed to herald a change in how we work, she isn’t sure.

“Initially, people thought it was great, but ultimately, you have work in your home and you end up working at night. There’s no distinction and no downtime.”

A recently-introduced code of practice in Ireland is the first step towards creating a balance, she says, and it’s needed.

The high-pressured life of someone like Susannah – a doctor, a mother, an author and TV personality – carries a cost. Each of those is a career on its own, but she’s caught in a world where “doing more means you’re doing better and it’s hard to say no”.

Much of the tension in the story arises from how the police, the prosecutor and public view her, based on assumptions and with no real knowledge of her life behind closed doors.

The courtroom and newsroom scenes are very true-to-life, and Edel had a certain degree of experience in the latter, she laughs.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Singer/songwriter expands her sound with new single

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Bríd Kenny....more experimental sound.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

It is close to two years since Galway-based singer/songwriter Bríd Kenny released her debut mini-EP, Doorway. Its three tracks offered a moody and melancholy introduction to her brand of Celtic folk – prose-y and poetic in its story and, instrumentally, stripped back and full of space.

Her latest project, though following those core principles, is slightly darker and, in her own words, more experimental. The Nenagh native’s new single, I Don’t Think, arrives on January 28.

The development in sound is partially indebted to the collaborators that have entered Bríd’s life since Doorway. Tadhg Kelly, drummer in the band she is currently writing with, aids her with production on I Don’t Think and, while the track remains a largely solo effort, the influence of Ella Partington, Donnchadh O’Dwyer and Kevin Maurice Handler in the burgeoning group is felt in the song’s fullness. The vocals – as Gaeilge and full of beautiful harmonies – are inventive and authentic.

“I recorded it in the summer, and I’ve been working on it with Tadhg. He mixed it for me and brought it to life in the last month or two,” says Bríd.

“I have a couple of songs that I’ve been working on and this is the only one that’s fully finished at the moment. It’s a little bit more experimental [than the EP] with the mixing. It’s kind of dark.

“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to say but I knew I was feeling very intense, strong emotions and I was finding it hard to express it with words. Through Irish is a good way because the meaning is a bit hidden, and the lyrics don’t have a ton of depth to them but I feel like the melody is very emotional.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Conamara siblings take to stage for TradFest

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Séamus and Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta, who will perform in Collins Barracks next Thursday.

The musical talent of Conamara siblings Caoimhe and Séamus Uí Fhlatharta from An Áird Mhóir, will be on show at this year’s Temple Bar TradFest, which runs from January 26-230 in venues across Dublin. They will be performing at Collins Barracks at 1pm next Thursday, January 26.

Séamus and Caoimhe, who have won multiple All-Ireland titles for their music, are well-known among fans of traditional music as brilliant multi-instrumentalists, singers and dancers, whose vocal arrangements and harmonies bring new life to well-known and less familiar songs. Their performance on last week’s Late Late Show as part of a musical tribute to murdered Offaly woman, Ashling Murphy, was widely praised.

TradFest is one of the first largescale events to host live audiences again, something that performers and fans alike hope will continue.

Other participants include actor Stephen Rea, hosting a night of poetry and music with Natalya O’Flaherty, Sasha Terfous, Louise and Michelle Mulcahy and Neill Martin; Fairport Convention; Peggy Seeger, Aoife Scott and Wallis Bird; Maria Doyle Kennedy; Boxing Banjo; Dervish, Altan and 4 Men and a Dog; Séamus Begley, Oisín Mac Diarmada and Samantha Harvey; Martin and Eliza Carthy; The Lost Brothers; Maria Doyle Kennedy; Joe and Steve Wall; Cór Cúil Aodha and Seán Ó Sé; Karan Casey; Niamh Ní Charra; Brídín; Laoise Kelly; Brenda Castles, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh; Tim Edey, Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin and Ultan O’Brien.

Tickets and more information at tradfesttemplebar.com.

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