Macnas magic returns to streets

After a four-year absence, the Macnas Halloween parade is back in Galway. Cnámha La Loba takes place in the city this Sunday with its main character being a wild, wise woman who weaves magic to restore life and hope to the world. Director James Riordan tells BERNIE Ní FHLATHARTA about his lifelong love of Macnas and his vision for this year’s spectacle.

The Macnas Halloween parade is back with a bang on the streets of Galway City this Sunday, following a four-year absence. Cnámha La Loba tells the story of a wise, wild woman who weaves her magic to bring people back to life and restore hope for the future.

Between Covid restrictions and Macnas’ massive production of Gilgamesh, which was commissioned for Galway 2020, Galway was deprived of the company’s annual parade that lights up the streets and viewers’ hearts.

The director of this year’s event is James Riordan, a young man from Moycullen, who is making his mark in the world of theatre, locally, nationally and internationally.  When he lived in London, James was part of a drag performance group called Lipsinkers for four years –  very different to Macnas, he says, but with just as many costume changes!

James, who also worked in Berlin, returned to Ireland in 2016 and founded Brú Theatre two years later.

Three years ago he was nominated for Best Actor in the Irish Times Theatre Awards for his role in the company’s show, Selvage. In 2021, he received the Abbey’s Michael Hogan Commemoration Bursary to write a new piece of long form-lament. He is currently the Digital Artist in Residence with the Centre for Creative Technologies at the University of Galway.

James, who works bilingually across various disciplines, remains Artistic Director of Brú and most recently directed the company’s latest show, Not a Word, for this year’s Galway International Arts Festival. Meanwhile his other work for Brú, including Ar Ais Arís and Selvage, has toured venues at home and abroad.

After being an actor and a director, James now sees himself leaning more towards directing.

“I am very excited about the parade and am really enjoying the process and feel very supported here (in Macnas),” he says.

“I’ve always admired Macnas’ work. They are a very imaginative company and have created some amazing shows over the years,” he says of the group, which formed in Galway City in the mid-1980s, growing out of the Arts Festival.

James has happy memories of being a child on the streets of Galway watching the company’s annual street parade and spectacles over the years.

So, being at the helm of this year’s event is special.

Pictured: This year’s parade will feature more than 100 performers, dancers, giant puppets and live musicians, all in stunning costumes.  PHOTO: EMILIJA JEFREMOVA.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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