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Mark finds new treasures as he revisits Howie the Rookie

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Arts Week with Judy Murphy – judymurphy@ctribune.ie

A new production of Mark O’Rowe’s hit play, Howie the Rookie, starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, and directed by the author is proving to be one of the advance hits of this year’s Arts Festival.

It’s playing at An Taibhdhearc following a successful run in Dublin’s Project Arts Centre, where it opened last month. Mark O’Rowe is relieved at the response.

“You are going back to revisit it and you just hope it will stand up, he says about the piece, which premiered in 1999 at London’s Bush Theatre.

The reviews of the current production are indicating that it has stood the test of time. In fact some reviewers say it seems more relevant in ways now than it did at the height of the Celtic Tiger.

The brutal and darkly funny play, set in working-class Dublin, centres on two men who share the same surname and who never meet.

Howie Lee sets out to get revenge on Rookie Lee on the basis that Rookie inflicted scabies on Howie’s friends. That leads to a rollercoaster ride through Dublin’s dark side, where the audience encounters, among other sundry characters, a gangland thug and a ladyboy. 

This production is from Landmark Theatre Company, which co-produced the 2011 Arts Festival Hit, Misterman. Anne Clarke, who runs Landmark, approached Mark about the possibility of reviving it, with him as director – a job he had in 1999. As it happened, Mark was happy with Mike Bradwell’s original direction, but he felt the time was right for a new production and so this was a tempting offer – although one that required him to rethink the play.

“When I was offered the chance to direct it, I knew I’d have to come at it in a different way – otherwise it would be the second-best version,” he says. 

The actor Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (now best known as Nidge in Love/Hate) was mentioned for a role and that gave Mark the idea to have him play both characters, Howie and the Rookie.

“He’s an amazing actor,” says Mark, who realised that having Tom play both men would give the play a new dimension and make his work as director more interesting.

“I saw him in Saved at the Abbey and then after Love/Hate, I knew he was capable of so much as an actor that if I just gave him one of the characters it would be too easy for him. He’s a nuclear weapon in terms of acting!”

As director, the casting decision lay with Mark.

“As a director you get to call the shots. The first time [in the Bush] I was there all the time making notes, so you do have power, but you also have to let the directors and actors get on with it.”

Back then, Mark wanted to protect the play. “I knew it would be hard to figure out in terms of directing and I wasn’t even sure what I had written.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

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‘World in a Window’ – a unique perspective of lockdown life

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Helium Artist Chelsea Canavan, Galway-based artist and parent Yvonne Cullivan and her son at the launch of Helium Arts’ ‘Our World in a Window’ exhibition at Galway City Library. PHOTO: ANITA MURPHY.

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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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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126 Gallery fundraising for new studio spaces

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126 Gallery and Studios, based in St Bridget’s Place in Galway City

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 contactg126@gmail.com.

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Film Fleadh enjoys its day in the sun

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Dónal Ó Héalaí and Fionnuala Flaherty in Foscadh with writer and director Seán Breathnach in the background. The film won Best Irish First Feature at the Fleadh.

The winner of Best Irish Film at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh, which closed on Sunday night, was Here Before, a psychological thriller set in Northern Ireland. The feature debut of Belfast television writer and filmmaker Stacey Gregg, it stars Andrea Riseborough as a bereaved mother whose new neighbours stir up uncomfortable feelings of grief.

The award for Best Irish First Feature went to Foscadh, an Irish language drama set in the mountains of North Conamara, based on characters from Donal Ryan’s novel, The Thing About December. This delayed coming-of-age story about a bereaved young man, an only child, who inherits the family farm was written and directed by Seán Breathnach and stars Dónall Ó Héalai.

Pure Grit, directed by Kim Bartley, won best Irish documentary. It explores the male-dominated world of Native American bareback horse racing and the impact of a young woman, Sharmaine, who is determined to break the mould.

Galway Film Fleadh is an Oscar-Qualifying Festival in three categories: Best Fiction Short, Best Short Documentary and Best Animation Short.

The Tiernan McBride Award for Best Fiction Short went to Saul & I, written and directed by Jon Beer.

The Best Short Documentary Award was won by Nothing to Declare, directed by Garrett Daly.

The James Horgan Award for Best Animation Short was won by Memento Mori, directed by Paul O’Flanagan, written by Paul O’Flanagan and Laura O’Flanagan.

The Fleadh’s Pitching Award for 2021 went to Athenry man Giles Brody for his teen caper, Top Marks.

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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