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Moving play Eclipsed retains the power to stir audiences

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Arts Week with Judy Murphy – judymurphy@ctribune.ie

A story of human resilience and resistance, more than one of oppression is how director Niall Cleary describes Patricia Burke Brogan’s groundbreaking play, Eclipsed.

The play, which played a major role in exposing the shameful history of Ireland’s Magdalen laundries, opens this week in the Town Hall Theatre, in a new production from local company, Mephisto Theatre.

It’s been 21 years since Eclipsed, written by the former Mercy novice, was premiered by Punchbag Theatre in Galway. Since then, it has been translated into many languages and has had at least 60 productions all over the world, including in North America, Germany, France, Germany and Italy.

Here in Ireland, the Magdalen Laundry issue has been put back in the spotlight in recent months, with the publication of the McAleese Report on the laundries in February, and the thorny issue of financial compensation for the women.

“It is still time to reflect on it while it is unresolved,” Niall feels, and Eclipsed offers a perfect way of doing that. It represents “a different way to have a conversation about the laundries”, and gives people an opportunity to listen to the stories of the women who were institutionalised, he adds.

“They were real women in these places. The characters in Eclipsed are fictional, but they represent real stories and Patricia was an insider in the laundry so this play comes from a very heart-felt place.”

While Eclipsed is heavy in parts, it’s also uplifting and it’s not a heavy night of theatre, Niall says.

“You think of a place like that and the misery of it, but Patricia captured the women’s imagination and their fight to survive.  Some of the women have been institutionalised and some are fighting like lionesses to see their children. There isn’t a ‘type’ of person in there. They are all doing what they can to survive.”

And it’s not just the unfortunate inmates who face that struggle.

Sr Virginia, the young nun in Eclipsed, is “Pat’s voice in a way”, Niall says. “She had entered the convent to work for the poor and care for people and then found herself in the role of oppressor.”

While the unwilling inmates are the real heroines of Eclipsed, the play is so well written that even the older, more forbidding figure of Mother Victoria evokes sympathy, he observes. “She is as much institutionalised as any of the women, or maybe even more. Everyone here is damaged and they are not stereotypes of goodies or baddies.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Immortal, a musical exploration of history, family and immortality

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Ellen Greally who plays Oisín's daughter Plur in Immortal.

An original musical, Immortal, from local theatre company, Morgan Creative is running at the city’s Town Hall Theatre until this Friday night, September 24, starting at 8pm nightly.

Billed by its creators Luke and Jake Morgan as “the next chapter of Irish folklore”, the story is set between the mythological land of Tír na nÓg, rural Galway during the Irish Civil War and modern-day Galway. It features 12 new original songs that strive to bring the area’s rich local history and traditions to a modern audience.

An era after her father, Oisín has left Tír na nÓg, Plur sets off on a perilous journey to find him. With the help of Choppy, a grouchy swan, Plur crosses the sea to a magical land she has heard about only in stories: Ireland. However, when she arrives, she learns that trouble is brewing.

The year is 1921 and the struggle for Irish independence is about to take a bitter turn. As Plur encounters a group of young rebels intent on storming Renmore Barracks, there is only one question on her mind: Will she manage to find her father and bring him home before it is too late?

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Galway back in festive swing

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Festival highlight…John Gerrard (centre) in front of his Mirror Pavilion in Derrigimlagh Bog, pictured in with Galway International Arts Festival’s Chief Executive John Crumlish (left) and Artistic Director Paul Fahy. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

The programme may have been amended because of Covid-19 restrictions – but this year’s Galway International Arts Festival still conjured up a whole set of indoor and outdoor experiences to deliver three weeks of spectacular success.

The pandemic resulted in GIAF’s biggest ever digital programme, including the first festival theatre livestream, making the work accessible to a much wider audience – and a star-studded concert from St Nicholas’ Church.

Festival highlights included Medicine, a theatrical tour-de-force by Enda Walsh with a cast featuring Domhnall Gleeson – and the acclaimed Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work, the second part of John Gerrard’s visual art project set in the heart of Derrygimlagh bog. That also attracted a global audience because it included a 24/7 live stream of the virtual performance that was being shown on the LED screen.

The first ever Other Voices collaboration with the festival delivered an unforgettable concert from St Nicholas’ Church, as part of the Courage series, featuring NewDad, Tolü Makay, Susan O’Neill and Mick Flannery, and Anna Mullarkey.

Audiences can still experience again the First Thought Talks series by checking them out  the Festival website.  Guests such as Misha Glenny; Bonnie Greer; Mike Ryan, Noelle Browne; Siobhan Burke, Sinéad Burke, Fintan O Toole, Peter Lunn and Teresa Lambe amongst others, discussed everything from cyber-hacking to the impact of remote working on rural Ireland to vaccine development.

The 2021 Vinyl Hours series saw guests Philip King, Sinéad Burke, Niamh Regan and Brian Kerr, reveal their most treasured songs in special in-conversation events. Fans can catch up with these conversations when they are released next month as part of the First Thought podcast series.

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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Kinvara exhibition focuses on ups and downs of social media

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The Kinvara Area Visual Artists group, KAVA is hosting, My Social Bubble, an exhibition of work by arts graduate Mark Keaveney, in which the Roscommon native focuses on the use social media

“My current practice is about the psychological effects of social media,” he explains. “I am exploring people’s engagement with these online platforms, mostly through digital media, along with other platforms such as painting, drawing, and photography.  Modern technology has proven to be a huge phenomenon and an extremely helpful tool in the contemporary art world.

“It provides many benefits as well as potentially harmful results. There is a significant grey area to be found when approaching peoples’ mental health and these handheld devices.”

This exhibition in cooperation with KAVA, will be supported by Kinvara Alive, a local group that promotes well-being and mental health.

The spokesperson for Kinvara Alive, Sean Glynn, says the show offers plenty food for thought.

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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