New direction for Little John in Decadent’s ‘Vernon God Little’
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.
Special award for An Slipéar Gloine
An Slipéar Gloine, a retelling in Irish of the age-old classic Cinderella, written by Fearghas Mac Lochlainn from An Spidéal, and illustrated by Paddy Donnelly, won the Judges’ Special Award at the KPMG, Children’s Books Ireland Awards. The book, published by An Spidéal-based Futa Fata, was named winner at an event held in Dublin as part of the International Literary Festival.
While Fearghas has previously translated stories for Futa Fata (An Rás Chuig an Mol Thuaidh and Eachtra Dlúthchara) this is the first book he has written himself. Luaithrín the heroine of An Slipéar Gloine, and her evil sisters Straoisín and Smaoisín have enthralled young readers since the book, written in humorous rhyme, was published in 2022. It won the Gradam Réics Carló in 2022.
Fearghas is well-known for his award-winning agallaimh bheirte and lúibíní and was a guest storytime reader in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop as part of the Cúirt Festival of Literature in April, when he read An Slipéar Gloine.
Patricia named as Laureate na nÓg
Galway’s Patricia Forde, whose books include the award-winning Wordsmith, is Ireland’s new Laureate na nÓg, or Laureate for Children’s Literature. She will hold the title until 2026, having taken over the role from outgoing Laureate, Áine Ní Ghlinn.
City-woman Patricia, a former Artistic Director of Galway Arts Festival and of Baboró Children’s Arts Festival, who began her working life as a primary teacher, was named laureate on Monday at a special event at the Arts Council.
Laureate na nÓg champions and celebrates literature for children and young people, inspiring future writers, illustrators and readers. This Arts Council initiative which honours “an artist of exceptional talent and commitment”, is administered by Children’s Books Ireland supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
Patricia, who has published more than 20 books, including 2014’s The Wordsmith, writes for young people of all ages, in Irish and in English. The Wordsmith won a White Raven Award from the International Youth Library, it’s an American Library Association Notable Book for Children in the US and it was shortlisted for the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Award.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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ATU hosts annual exhibition of students’ work
The work of 72 students from the art, design, film, and documentary undergraduate programmes of Atlantic Technological University will be officially unveiled this Friday, June 2, at 2pm, in the Galway City Campus building on the Wellpark Road
Film and theatre director Lelia Doolan will open the annual Graduate Show which runs until next Friday, June 11, from 10am to 5pm and is open to the public. Featuring work across a range of media, the show from the ATU’s School of Design and Creative Arts provides students with an opportunity to display their creativity and innovation.
Work on display will include paintings, sculptures, installations, graphic design and illustration, digital art, film and documentary screenings, animations, video game designs, product designs, textiles and fashion designs.
Several hundred guests are expected to attend the exhibition, a popular fixture on Galway’s arts calendar.
“We are immensely proud of the hard work and dedication demonstrated by our students throughout the year,” said the Head of the ATU Dept of Creative Arts & Media Celine Curtin. “The exhibition is a celebration of their achievements and their remarkable talent.”
Students will act as invigilators throughout the week, giving visitors to the show a chance to chat with them.