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Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

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Arts Week with Judy Murphy – judymurphy@ctribune.ie

There are changes afoot when Druid Theatre returns to the Town Hall Theatre next week with its new version of Druid Murphy, which was the major theatrical event of 2012 in Ireland as well as being acclaimed in the UK and the United States when it was performed in both places.

Conversations on a Homecoming and A Whistle in the Dark are returning, while the third – and bleakest – of the three DruidMurphy plays, Famine, will not be performed. After Galway, the production will go on a nationwide tour.

Returning to the company for this tour is Dublin actor Rory Nolan, who he is taking on a new challenge this time out. Rory who played the taciturn, hard-drinking Junior in last year’s production of Conversations on a Homecoming, has changed roles and will now play the flashy auctioneer, Liam in the drama, which is set in a North Galway pub.

Liam was previously played by Aaron Monaghan, who was not available this time, so director Garry Hynes suggested that Rory should take on the part.
The “lazy actor” part of him would have been happy to return to Junior, but once the new challenge was put to him, he wasn’t going to pass it up, he says.

“What an honour to be able to play two roles in one of the great Irish plays – and to do that with Druid,” he says.

Recasting him as Liam and bringing in Stephen Jones to play Junior has changed the whole dynamic of the production, he says. Rory pauses when asked if it’s been difficult to change roles and having considered carefully, responds “yes and no, but more no than yes”.
This is a new production, he explains, and all the actors in the rehearsal room are exploring different aspects of their characters. That changes everything.

“We are starting to re-examine and re-explore the play and this is making it more fun and an adventure for me.”

Several of last year’s cast, including Marie Mullen, Marty Rea and Garret Lombard have returned to Conversations in their original roles, but the dynamic has changed, because of the different casting.

It’s no problem for Rory to watch Stephen taking on the role of Junior – it’s more difficult getting the character of Liam, played so brilliantly by Aaron Monaghan last year, out of his head.

“It’s about making the part my own and letting him live from within,” he says. That challenge is made easier because he and Aaron are very different vocally, while Rory is “a good half-foot taller” than his acting colleague and friend.

“As well, I’m going down routes trying to highlight things about Liam whereas Aaron might have highlighted other things – I’m trying to hear him with my voice.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Pixies slot proves time is now for the Clockworks

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The Clockworks...supporting Pixies on September tour.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

When Pixies were announced as Galway International Arts Festival headliners way back in 2019, a promising Loughrea four-piece were fresh from relocating to London and bullishly embracing their role as the new faces of former Oasis manager Alan McGee’s Creation 23 record label.

Two years on, the US alt-rock pioneers are yet to grace the Big Top – but the Clockworks, made up of James McGregor, Tom Freeman, Seán Connolly and Damian Greaney, are set to make a US debut in their company with a series of support slots that cement their place as one of Galway’s biggest artistic exports.

In less than six weeks’ time, Pixies will embark on a September tour of the states with the Clockworks by their side for six gigs. The Galway group play their own maiden headline US show in New York’s Mercury Loung on September 8.

On their horizon too, is an end-of-year Irish tour with Dublin indie-rock outfit Inhaler as well as a host of festival appearances, barring cancellations.

With news of the Pixies tour coming in the same week NewDad were announced as support for Fontaines D.C.’s highly anticipated Belfast show on August 13, it is powerful evidence of the ground Galway acts continue to break.

“It’s very exciting to have loads of gigs lined up after absolutely nothing for so long,” James admits.

“It’s really nice to feel like we’re going to hit the ground running and when Pixies came through, that was just amazing and what a way to start. It’s our first time gigging in America – my first time going there personally.

“All four of us are massive fans of Pixies too. Any time they’d come to Ireland, we’d always try and throw our hat in the ring for a support slot and just to think that now we’ll be going around the States with them is insane.”

Read the full interview in this week’s Groove Tube, in the Connacht Tribune – on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital version from www.connachttribune.ie

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‘World in a Window’ – a unique perspective of lockdown life

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Helium Artist Chelsea Canavan, Galway-based artist and parent Yvonne Cullivan and her son at the launch of Helium Arts’ ‘Our World in a Window’ exhibition at Galway City Library. PHOTO: ANITA MURPHY.

A new exhibition, Our World in a Window, which is currently running in Galway City, focuses on the experiences of children who have been living with long-term health conditions during lockdown

Facilitated by Helium Arts, the national children’s arts and health charity, the exhibition features animations and mechanised artwork produced by young people from across Ireland who took part in Helium’s remote programme ‘Distance Creates’.

Our World in a Window can be seen until August 4 at Galway City Library before it goes on tour to Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Longford.

Since last February, children aged 9-12 who are living with long-term health conditions have been exploring the world of animation, guided by Helium artist, Chelsea Canavan. From tinfoil and claymation characters to foam sculptures and hand-drawn illustrations, these young creators have brought their stories to life in unique and imaginative ways.

The origins of Our World in a Window date back to the beginning of Covid. That was when Helium Arts began adapting its usual in-person programmes, moving to digital and postal formats to allow vulnerable young people to be creative from the safety of their homes. The goal was to offer respite during a time of social distancing and to support the youngsters’ mental health, which is part of Helium’s brief.

In non-Covid times, Helium Arts supports sick children via arts-based projects in hospital, community and public settings. More than 5,000 children and their families have availed of its service since 2010.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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126 Gallery fundraising for new studio spaces

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126 Gallery and Studios, based in St Bridget’s Place in Galway City

The artist-run 126 Gallery and Studios, based in St Bridget’s Place in Galway City, has established a satellite studio space on nearby Saint Francis Street, in response to members’ need for working spaces that are affordable, secure and easy to access. The new Barton Studios will host four studio spaces and the artists using them will have access to 126’s main facilities.

Submissions for Barton Studios and any further spaces are open to current members of 126, in recognition of those artists and creatives who have supported the members-run gallery over the past 16 years.

The group is currently raising money to fit out the studios and because normal methods such as table-quizzes and its ‘drink and draw’ nights are out of bounds, the 126 steering committee has turned to GoFundMe to try and raise €2,000, which is what they estimate it will cost.

If any extra money is raised, it will be used to subsidise the rest of costs for the studios to artists for the remainder of 2021. Some €1,800 would be needed to lower the rent to €50 per week for each artist. A breakdown of all costs will be posted on 126gallery.com and made available to donors.

Initially, the studios will have a communal computer, a private workspace with wi-fi, and access to all resources at 126’s main facility, just six minutes’ walk away. Active studio members will have free 126 membership.  The mission of 126 is to support its members to work and to access opportunities, supports, and spaces. With that in mind, the gallery team is available for one-to-one conversations to facilitate group engagement between both facilities, or with other organisations in Galway.

To contribute, go to www.gofundme.com/f/barton-studios-2021. For more information on how to get involved, email contactg126@gmail.com.

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