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New direction for Little John in Decadent’s ‘Vernon God Little’

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Little John and fellow members of the cast during rehearsal this week for Galway Decadent Theatre's stage adaptation of Vernon God Little. From left: Jarlath Tivnan who plays the lead role, Tara Finn, Jack O'Dowd, Eilish McCarthy, Peter Shine, Kate Murray, Tracey Bruen and Little John.

One of Galway’s most popular entertainers, Little John Nee takes on a new role next month, when he joins the cast of Decadent Theatre for the Irish premiere of Vernon God Little at the Town Hall Theatre.

This production, based on DBC Pierre’s Booker-winning 2003 satirical novel on American life, is directed by Decadent’s Artistic Director Andrew Flynn, following his recent success with Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, which premiered in Galway before a 50-show tour of Ireland.

This marks the first time John has worked with Decadent – the first time, really, that the writer and performer has ever worked on a theatre show that he hasn’t created himself.

He plays the part of Lally, a conman who befriends the teenage Vernon of the title after the youngster is suspected of being involved in mass shooting at a Texas high school and ends up on a version of death-row, driven by the rules of reality TV.

John also plays another, smaller but integral role as well as being part of the ensemble cast, where members take on multiple roles in the zany, fast-paced stage version, originally performed in London’s Young Vic Theatre in 2007.

“We all play a few parts except for Jarlath [Tivnan] who is Vernon,” John explains on a break from rehearsals. “It’s a very exciting cast, with several people from Fregoli Theatre and people who have worked with Andrew in the past. It’s a very vibrant group and I love the ensemble style of it.”

It’s not the first time John has been asked by other theatre companies to act in their productions, but he’s been busy with his own work until now.

However, he was open to being approached, and admired Andrew’s work, so the time was right. Also, because there is a live band in Vernon God Little – the three-piece Soprano Bats – and music is integral to John’s shows, the fit was a good one.

It is strange, however, to have  to learn lines written by other people and to be working solely as an actor rather than a writer-director.

John’s own musical plays are collaborative, as he works with a team and takes people’s views on board, but this is different.

“With my work, it’s always my vision and now it’s not. But it’s exciting and it’s interesting learning other people’s lines,” he says about the script. That was adapted from the book, which John hadn’t read before signing up for the production. Since then he has read it and listened to the audio-book “to get a handle on it before going into rehearsals”.

While Decadent is using the Young Vic script, Andrew also relies a lot on the book in terms of capturing the story’s feeling, according to John.

“The temptation is to be really slapstick, but the writing is more subtle and Andrew is going for the story and the real humour and satire,” he explains. “Vernon God Little is a contemporary satire about American culture, where a young boy befriends an outsider and is something of an outsider himself.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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