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Freedom to fail is key to success for Tommy

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Comedian Tommy Tiernan in full flight: ‘What fascinates me are the questions that I can’t answer.’

I am an appeaser in the sense that I want to please an audience,” says comedian Tommy Tiernan. “The challenge is to do it in a way that’s not predictable.”

Being unpredictable yet pleasing is the plan as Tommy embarks on a tour to promote his latest DVD, Stray Sod, which was recorded in The Glebe Gardens Amphitheatre, Baltimore, Co Cork, during the summer.

Like his Crooked Man DVD of three years ago, Stray Sod is full of stories and observations about Ireland.

Tommy has been touring the island “specifically and obsessively for the past three years”, playing venues small and large across the 32 counties.

He has also toured to Irish exiles in Dubai, Australia and Canada.

“Without trying, you end up talking about Ireland specifically . . . you are mainly talking to Irish people about Ireland,” he says.

Stray Sod was recorded in an outdoor space which he likens to Brigit’s Garden in Roscahill.

It has been described as “a love letter to Ireland” although the stories weren’t developed in that way, Tommy says.

Developing his stories is a process that takes its own course, he explains.

“What fascinates me are the questions that I can’t answer.”

At the moment, for instance, he wonders if he’s doing his children any favours by educating them. He’s also preoccupied about an ancient king, Soma, who was associated with magic mushrooms, and what would happen if Soma were to sail up the Liffey today.

These are just notions and may lead nowhere, but right now they fascinate him.

“It’s not that you are always looking for funny things; it’s that you explore notions comedically and coherently.”

It’s also about keeping things fresh.

If the original mischief that drove him to be a comedian just becomes a way of paying the mortgage, things become too safe, he says.

“It’s important to keep taking chances.”

Whatever people might think about Tommy’s comedy, nobody could accuse him of not taking risks.

Among them was his decision in 2009 do a 36-hour non-stop show in the City’s Nuns Island Theatre, running from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.

That came during a difficult period for Tommy, when he realised his work had become more angry than funny.

“What I thought was a road ended up as a cul-de-sac, so I had the idea of doing 36 hours non-stop. To talk and talk and talk until I wasn’t angry anymore.”

A few months after that epic show, Tommy noticed a playfulness returning to his material.

“I wouldn’t undervalue anger or punk, but other areas of mischief became more fruitful,” he says.

Keeping things fruitful is a constant goal. That philosophy was recently explored in the RTÉ documentary, Tommy: To Tell You the Truth. It followed him on a European tour for which his shows were improvised. Some people loved it; others found it a stressful viewing experience.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

The Uncertainty of History at Kinvara Courthouse

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Family Tree by Bernadette Burns, which is being shown as part of her exhibition in Kinvara. It explores events surrounding the death of her grandaunt Eileen Quinn at Kiltartan 101 years ago, during the War of Independence.

The Uncertainty of History – Remembering Eileen Quin, an exhibition that explores human transience, family history and the fragility of memory, will open in the Courthouse at Kinvara, next Friday, October 29.

The work of Galway-born artist Bernadette Burns, this multi-media show was inspired by her grandaunt Eileen Quinn who was killed by British Auxiliary troops on November 1, 1920, in Kiltartan outside Gort.

The show was originally meant to take place in Kinvara last year, on the 100th anniversary of Eileen Quinn’s death, but was postponed because of Covid.

Bernadette is a painter who works with drawing, photography, sculpture, video and book-making.

The paintings, sculpture, audio, and artist’s books in this exhibition grew from a diary entry by Bernadette’s grandmother, Tessie Burns, which referred to the shooting of her younger sister, Eileen, in 1920.

As a child, growing up in Galway City, Bernadette had known that Tessie’s younger sister had died during the War of Independence, but not the details. Finding the diary after Tessie died in 1991 and also being given Tessie’s photo album, awoke something in Bernadette who’d studied art at the then RTC and the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

The First Bad Man – a book club like no other

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Andrew Bennett in Pan Pan Theatre's The First Bad Man.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

“Characters who are trying to understand and explain what is going on in the world and who never know what’s around the corner,” will be on the stage of the city’s Black Box Theatre next Tuesday and Wednesday, October 26 and 27, in The First Bad Man.

The audience will be centrally involved in the show, according to Gavin Quinn of Pan Pan Theatre, who directs The First Bad Man, which is “based on a reading of a novel by Miranda July”.

Gavin and Aedín Cosgrove established Pan Pan in 1993 to present experimental and challenging work and that’s exactly what it does. So, this production is not a straightforward adaptation of the popular 2015 novel from July, who is also a film director, screenwriter actor, and actress. When Gavin read The First Bad Man – her debut novel – he loved “its theatricality and its unusual themes and relationships”.

He was already a fan of the US artist’s work, including her 2007 short-story collection, No One Belongs Here More than You, which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Gavin wrote to July seeking permission for Pan Pan to stage a show based on The First Bad Man. But it wouldn’t be an adaptation, he explained.

“What I was suggesting was more a conceptual piece, more a book club idea,” he says. July was agreeable, although the permission process took longer than it might have done for a straightforward adaptation.

As with so many other companies, Pan Pan’s plans were delayed by Covid. But the show is now coming to Galway, having received its live premiere at the Dublin Theatre Festival earlier this month.

In Pan Pan’s production, a fictional book club selects The First Bad Man as its novel of the week. However, rather than discussing it over one meeting, as is the norm, the club’s members become obsessed with it “and keep coming back to it over a year”.

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

Dark comedy that explores obsession with weddings

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Sarah-Jane Scott as Sorcha in Appropriate. PHOTO: SIMON LAZEWSKI.

Tuam actress, Sarah-Jane Scott, brings her darkly comic one-woman show, Appropriate, to Druid’s Mick Lally Theatre this Saturday, October 23, with a performance at 4pm and another at 8pm.

The play’s heroine, Sorcha, is the queen bee of her hometown, engaged to former county hurling star, Marty. She’s been dreaming about her wedding day for years, except now that it has arrived, she’s just run away from her own reception.

Sorcha isn’t sure if she’s lost her reason or if this is the first sane moment she’s had in years, but as she prepares to enter her perfectly planned life, she finally realises she has never really listened to herself.

Appropriate premiered at the2018 Dublin Fringe festival when it received a great response and was nominated for a Bewley’s Little Gem Award.  The Sunday Times critic was ‘wooed by her self-deprecating, acutely observed tale of love and loss’ that taps into ‘our insatiable obsession with weddings’ while The Irish Times praised it as ‘an engrossing debut’.

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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