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Personal and political meet in powerful Yael Farber drama

Judy Murphy

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Arts Week with Judy Murphy – judymurphy@ctribune.ie

She is renowned for creating drama that addresses big social and political issues, and has won awards internationally for this work, but South African-born director Yael Farber, who returns to Galway Arts Festival this year, says her primary role is to tell a good story and move people.

Her work for this year’s Festival is Mies Julie, Farber’s interpretation of August Strindberg’s 1880s classic play about class and gender, transported to a South African setting, where race is also added to the mix. 

In 2012 the production from South Africa’s Baxter Theatre in association with the South African State Theatre, won Best of Edinburgh Fringe Award, an Edinburgh Fringe First Award and an Edinburgh Herald Angel Award. Last December, Mies Julie was in The Guardian’s top ten best theatre picks of 2012 and The New York Times Top Ten Plays of 2012.

Yael is currently in Mumbai, India, where she is working with a group of Indian actors on a play based on the horrifying gang rape and subsequent death of a young woman, a medical student, in Delhi last year. The resulting play, Nirbhaya (Fearless) will premiere at Edinburgh in August.

She speaks quickly, but everything she says is measured – she is a woman who takes drama seriously and has done since her youth in Johannesburg.

“In making theatre I’m interested in just showing the tender human mess of it all, and don’t have grandiose notions about changing the world,” she explains.  “I have to be a very good storyteller and get good storytellers to join me because good theatre is about stories well told. They can be simple, but they have to be good.”

Theatre is a very powerful ritual and it links us back to our forefathers, she adds. “Telling people stories is a way of generating a capacity for empathy because it defies the myth that we are different.

“It works its magic if you bring magic to it, because the audience will give back what you give to it. My mandate is to make theatre that’s compelling and moves people.”

She certainly does that, as her previous production at Galway Arts Festival proved. Molora was adapted from the Greek tragedy, The Oresteia and based on South Africa’s Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

 Mies Julie too has won praise  everywhere it has played. And it was because of yet another work that Yael got a call from Indian actress Poorna Jagannathan last year following the death of the young Delhi woman, which affected Yael greatly, as it did so many people.

“Poorna had seen one of my works, Amajuba in New York,” the director explain. “I do two strands of work, testimonial or adaptations of classics and Amajuba was testimonial.”

The testimonial plays involve real people’s stories, recreated for theatre. It’s a powerful way of engaging with people and is the style she is adopting in India. Poorna who had been a victim of a sexual assault in her youth, told Yael that women in Mumbai were ready to talk about their experiences and invited her there. Otherwise, Yael would “never have assumed to arrive in India and tell that story”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

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Sharon goes global for lockdown album The Reckoning

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Sharon's new album will be available from this Friday.

Despite Covid-19 travel restrictions, Sharon Shannon has gone global for her latest studio album, The Reckoning, which is being released this Friday, November 27.

The Reckoning, which was composed, written and recorded during lockdown, features more than dozen remote collaborations from locations across the world.

All the twelve tracks have been co-written by Sharon and band members and various guest collaborators.

The full-on method in which it was recorded marks a new departure for the Clare-born musician who lives in Galway City, she says.

“Normally when we work on an album, we do one track at a time,” Sharon explains. “But with this, it seems to be an avalanche when you’re working on 13 or 14 tracks every day. It’s like a minefield!”

One of the key tracks, The Jolly Roger, resulted from a challenge which rugby player Robbie Henshaw presented to Sharon during the first Covid lockdown. Issued via Facebook, her task was to learn a new skill. And she did. After five days of intense practice, she created The Jolly Roger Facebook video . That clip of Sharon and her electric guitar has attracted more than 289,000 views since it was uploaded earlier this year.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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Artists going to dogs in aid of annual auction

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Work donated to MADRA by Galway artist Grace Cunningham and Achill Island’s Padraig McCaul.

Works by some of Ireland’s top artists, including Grace Cunningham and Finbar McHugh from Galway as well as Padraig McCaul from Achill Island and Charles Harper from Valentia Island, will go under the hammer at this year’s MADRA Dog Rescue Charity Art Auction.

The popular event, which kicks off for viewing next week, will take place online year due to Covid restrictions.

The event, will open for registration and online bids next Thursday, December 3 and will remain available to view and bid online until Monday, December 7 .

The goal is to raise €3,000 to contribute towards vet bills for the Connemara-based dog rescue and adoption charity. MADRA is facing major bills, all without the financial support that’s normally generated by its two charity shops – they have been closed for months this year due to the pandemic.

“We have stunning artworks available with an amazing variety of subjects and styles,” explains MADRA co-founder and director, Marina Fiddler, adding that the organisation is “honoured that so many talented artists have donated such beautiful pieces to support the homeless dogs in our care”.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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Celebrating Romania on Great Union Day

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ConTempo, will perform a programme from thier native Romania for next Tuesday's lunchthime concert.

The next instalment of the lunchtime music series, From Europe with Love, will take place next Tuesday, December 1, at 1pm. Hosted by Galway Music Residency, it’s the last one for 2020.

It promises to be a special event as Galway’s Ensemble in Residence, the ConTempo Quartet, who are from Romania, celebrate their homeland on what’s known as Great Union Day. This national holiday marks the unification of Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918.

ConTempo will perform a varied programme, showcasing the best of Romanian music. This will feature works by celebrated composers George Enescu and Theodor Grigoriu alongside lesser-known musical treasures. There will be a strong folk theme throughout, making for a lively lunchtime show.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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