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From war-torn Croatia to life in Ireland – as a lap dancer

Judy Murphy

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Arts Week with Judy Murphy – judymurpy@ctribune.ie

A one-woman show about a young woman who left her life in war-torn Croatia and ended up working as a lap dancer in a Dublin club will be staged at the Town Hall studio space on September 29 and October 1 as part of the Galway Theatre Festival.

Broken Promised Land is written and performed by Mirjana Rendulic, and directed by NUIG drama graduate Aoife Spillane-Hinks. Having already been staged in Dublin and Limerick as well as at this year’s Electric Picnic, it comes highly recommended, with the Sunday Times having described it as ‘captivating’ and awarding it a four-star review.

The play dispels easy assumptions about exotic dancers, she says in her perfect English, adding, “there is so much in it that it’s hard to summarise”.

Croatian born Mirjana has been living in Ireland for 10 years, having never really intended to come to this country. Growing up in Zagreb, she was heavily influenced by American TV programmes such as Beverly Hills … and dreamed of moving to the USA.

Zagreb at the time was part of former Yugoslavia, which was communist, but not communist in the closed way that Russia experienced it. Its citizens were exposed to American television and she was seduced by it.

But then Yugoslavia was broken up into individual states and after that, in the early 1990s came the Balkans War that ravaged Croatia.

There weren’t many opportunities for people during that time, she says.

Stefica, the character in Broken Promised Land is based on Mirjana’s own story, although the show is not entirely autobiographical, the author explains. Stefica is working in a shop when she replies to a newspaper ad in a bid to improve her lot.

As a result, she ends up moving to Italy, Japan and finally to Ireland, working as an exotic dancer, as indeed did Mirjana. It seems like a strange journey, not least on a geographical level.

Mirjana laughs as she agrees. “Italy was easy because it is next door to Croatia. And Japan was random but that was where the demand for lap dancers was at the time – it was booming there, she says. She came to Ireland via tourists she had met in Zagreb.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Sunday evening concert offers All the Pleasures

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Sunday evening’s concert will be performed by the Resurgam Choir and Irish Baroque Orchestra (pictured), under director Peter Whelan.

Music by George Frederic Handel and Henry Purcell as well as a world premiere by Irish composer Rhona Clarke will feature in Resounding Landscapes, a concert being presented by Music for Galway in association with Galway 2020 this Sunday, November 22. It will be live-streamed from the city’s St Nicholas’ Church, starting at 7pm.

It’s the second concert in the Abendmusik (Evening Music) series of vocal and choral performances, which forms part of Music for Galway’s programme for the European Capital of Culture project.

Sunday’s event will feature Welcome to all the Pleasures by the 17th century composer, Henry Purcell with text by Cristopher Fishburn; the world premiere of Rhona Clarke’s O Vis Aeternitatis – based on writings by the 12th century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen; and Handel’s Dixit Dominus.

The programme will be performed by the Resurgam Choir and Irish Baroque Orchestra (IBO), under director Peter Whelan, who is director of the IBO.

Creator of the Abendmusik Sunday evening concert series, Mark Duley feels that “in our current circumstance, it is good to be reminded by Fishburn in his text that ‘in music, we find relief from sorrow and grief’. And we can salute the venerable building of St Nicholas’ Church where for 700 years music has resounded and prayer has been valid.”

Meanwhile, a scheduled online production of the community opera, Paper Boat, which Music for Galway commissioned to celebrate the 700th anniversary of St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, has been postponed.

Paper Boat is central to Music for Galway’s programme for Galway 2020 and before Covid-19 restrictions, there had been plans for a major live production of the site-specific composition in St Nicholas’ last June.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Chance to experience Fregoli’s Cross Street as the drama unfolds

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Enid trying to make sense of her life in 'Cross Street.

Fregoli Theatre Company will present a work-in-progress performance of its forthcoming play, Cross Street, on Saturday, November 28.

This virtual reading of their new comedy, written by the company’s co-founder Jarlath Tivnan, offers hints of horror while exploring mental health issues, according to its director Eimear Finan.

The story centres on Enid who’s searching for a new home and finds a place on Cross Street, one of Galway’s most happening spots.

However, she enters a space that’s is already populated by some serious creatures of habit. When Enid’s arrival threatens to disrupt well-worn routines, a house meeting is called to re-establish order. But on this stormy night, other events take over.

Cross Street explores how mental issues can grow and manifest when left to fester, says Eimear. Each of the housemates has an issue: these range from grief, guilt, alcoholism, eating disorders, neglect, self-harm and self-doubt. And each person isolates from anyone who might either interfere or help.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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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Resourceful Emma gets in step with Zoom during pandemic

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Connemara's heritage features strongly in Emma's sean-nós dance classes and in her Facebook videos.

If you fancy learning sean-nós dancing, now is your chance as renowned dancer Emma O’Sullivan is using technology to put her students through their paces – at home and abroad.

In normal times, the All-Ireland champion can be seen dancing on the junction of Mainguard Street and Cross Street in Galway City.

Emma, from Derryinver, Letterfrack, is a popular figure and videos of her performances have been shared by over 20 million viewers worldwide. Her skills as a sean-nós dance teacher mean she’s in constant demand for classes among children and adults as at home and abroad.

But like so many in the performing arts sector, Emma’s livelihood has been severely affected by the pandemic.

After her regular classes were cancelled in March when lockdown began, she decided to try something new. She complied a 30-minute introductory sean-nós dancing tutorial video, which she uploaded to YouTube.  The feedback was so good, she moved on to classes via Zoom – which her students have since nicknamed ‘zoom-nós’.

This hasn’t been without its challenges, she says.

“There’s so much more to consider. Lighting and audio were a bit difficult, because while Zoom is fine for just chatting, suddenly I needed to talk and play music too.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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