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Organisers in full flight for annual arts extravaganza


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Organisers in full flight for annual arts extravaganza Organisers in full flight for annual arts extravaganza

Rehearsals and set-building are well under way for the 46th Galway International Arts Festival which runs this year from Monday, July 17, to Sunday, July 30.

And on top of the usual preparations, a temporary auditorium is also under construction.

This 1,000-plus seater theatre will be located at the Kingfisher building in Newcastle on the University of Galway’s campus.

The auditorium, which will be a space like the Black Box across the river but much bigger, will host one of this year’s festival highlights — The Pulse, an acrobatic show accompanied by a 30 strong all female choir. The production was a hit at last year’s Edinburgh Arts Festival.

Paul Fahy, Artistic Director of GIAF, says the countdown to the opening is well under way. They are already on week five of the get-in for the specially commissioned installation by Scottish artist David Mach at the Festival Gallery. It’s been five years since the Turner nominee was at GIAF.

Rehearsals for Enda Walsh’s Bedbound, a collaboration between the festival and Landmark Productions, featuring Colm Meaney and his daughter, Brenda, are also well under way. It will be Colm Meaney’s first time on an Irish stage in 40 years. That play, which will be in the University’s Bailey Allen Theatre is selling out fast. And after its Galway run, which starts on July 14, a few nights before festival’s official opening, it goes to the Olympia in Dublin.

How To Be a Dancer in 72,000 Easy Lessons is a dance show from Irish company Teach Damhsa, described by Paul Fahy as “beautiful and funny” and a “must see”

“It’s created by a husband and wife team who also dance in the show. This is a real festival show and will be performed in the first week.

“Another show to watch out for is The Life and Times of Michael K, based on J.M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name, which combines puppetry, performance, film and evocative music from some of South Africa’s most revered artists.”

Mr Fahy adds that the puppetry is by the Tony Awardwinning Handspring Puppet Company, best known for creating the spectacular puppets in the West End and Broadway productions of Warhorse.

And of course, there’s much anticipation around Druid’s Sean O’Casey trilogy, which will go on tour to Dublin, Belfast and the USA after finishing its Galway run.

The Festival’s ticket office opens next Wednesday (June 28) at 31 Eyre Square, the former Permanent TSB offices, which are adjacent to the Festival garden.

“We expect a lot more international visitors this year and a proper return to pre-pandemic attendances. Online sales for some of the Big Top acts opened earlier this year and the two Saw Doctors’ shows and The Coronas have already sold out.

“And we are also looking forward to the Kaiser Chiefs in the Big Top after two failed attempts to perform at the Festival due to the pandemic.

“We are also happy to be back in The Printworks (on Market Street) with two exhibitions,” says the festival’s artistic director.

The biggest and heaviest spectacle ever seen on the streets of Galway is Dragon, which is 30 feet tall and 22.5 tonnes in weight. This free street spectacle comes from Nice in France and takes place on Eyre Square on July 21, and 22.

Mr Fahy describes the interactive spectacle as “sensational” and hopes it goes down well with people of all ages.

“We are really excited and there’s been a positive response to our programme so far,” adds a busy but happy Paul Fahy.

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