Murphy tops celebration of Irish theatre in Galway
THE work of Tuam playwright Tom Murphy will be a key part of this year’s Galway Arts Festival.
The festival will host the first major performance of DruidMurphy – a celebration of three major plays by Tom Murphy, Famine, A Whistle in the Dark and Conversations on a Homecoming.
The plays, which had their first performances in Galway over the past number of days, are directed by Garry Hynes in a Druid co-production with Galway Arts Festival, Quinnipac University, NUI Galway, and Lincoln Centre Festival, New York.
The tribute to Tom Murphy will also be more personalised and extends to his musical interests and love of classical music.
A special concert will be performed by Classical Links at Tuam’s St Mary’s Cathedral in July which will feature some of Tom’s favourite pieces from Bach, Schubert and Mozart. The concert will be a welcome home for the playwright who will attend on the night.
Galway Arts Festival Artistic Director Paul Fahy said the festival has worked with Classical Links on a number of occasions and he is thrilled to have such a personalised concert in Tuam.
“St Mary’s Cathedral is one of the most beautiful venues in the county. I am constantly encouraging people to go there, even just for a visit,” he told The Herald.
“The pieces chosen for the concert are among Tom’s favourites. The concert is in his honour and it will be great to have him in the audience to enjoy it,” added Paul.
He said DruidMurphy is one of the most significant parts of the Galway festival this year and described it as an ambitious and huge undertaking. The first few technical rehearsals are taking place in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre this week and the cast will perform all three plays one after the other this weekend, a feat they also plan to accomplish on two occasions during the festival as well as performing the individual shows in July.
DruidMurphy will also travel to The Mall Theatre in Tuam in September, which is expected to sell out well in advance.
DruidMurphy is part of the substantial arts festival programme, which was officially launched at the weekend.
Galway will host the world premiere of a new play by Julian Gough, The Great Goat Bubble, set in 1986, as a sleepy Ireland dreams of a modern and exciting future. The smart comedy is expected to be one of the festival’s big hits.
Paul Fahy is keen for the festival to continue not only featuring Irish artists and productions but to also begin to generating its own original work.
He says while he is always looking for things to bring to Galway, he believes some of the most exciting projects are those that are generated by the festival itself.
“It is difficult and can be demanding on resources, but it is really great to have a unique and original production from Galway,” he explained.
Festival fans don’t have as much cash in their pockets but Paul Fahy is confident that the programme continues to offer good value, along with a large number of free events.
“It was great that we had a lot of sold-out shows last year and I think we’ll have the same again.
“We want our audiences to have a good festival experience. We want them to have a good time and, hopefully, this will encourage them to try something else at the event.
“You can never be complacent and we work hard with our audiences, who are first and foremost in our minds,” he added.
AMERICA’S Northlight Theatre, in association with Galway Arts Festival, present the European premiere of the
moving new play The Outgoing Tide by US playwright Bruce Graham, featuring Tony Award-winning actors John Mahoney and Rondi Reed.
John Mahoney has taken part in the Galway festival five times and is always eager to return.
“Galway is such a beautiful city and to be there during the Arts Festival is sheer magic,” he commented.
Propeller, under the direction of Ed Hall, makes a welcome return to Galway with a hugely entertaining double-bill of Shakespeare’sHenry V and The Winter’s Tale.
The National Theatre of Scotland brings the undisputed hit play of the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart by leading Scottish playwright David Grieg, while Dublin’s Gate Theatre makes its long-awaited festival debut with Watt by Samuel Beckett.
THE streets of Galway will come alive with the world premiere of This Thunderous Heart from the masters of Irish street spectacle Macnas; Spain’s spectacular Lo Monstre, a six-metre high giant dinosaur which will roam the streets of Galway, and the poignant and moving Kamchàtka from Spain. New theatre work from Galway includes Last Shot Redemption from Catastrophe Theatre in collaboration with Chrysalis Dance and Galway Youth Theatre.
THE celebration of Tom Murphy’s work is the biggest theatre project in Druid’s history.
The project will make its London premiere next month as part of London 2012’s Cultural Olympiad, and in July, DruidMurphy will open in the USA, before returning to Galway to play two weeks as part of Galway Arts Festival.
From August to the end of October the production will tour in Ireland, the UK and USA.
Told through three of the greatest plays by Tom Murphy, Famine, A Whistle in the Dark and Conversations on a Homecoming, DruidMurphy is a major retrospective of one of Ireland’s most respected living dramatists by a theatre company internationally renowned and celebrated for large-scale theatre performances.
Crossing oceans and spanning decades, DruidMurphy is a sweeping tale that allows audiences to see who they are – regardless of where they might call home. Told over the course of three evenings’ or in an entire cycle on one day, it promises to be one of the theatrical events of the year.
It is the largest touring project happening in Irish theatre this year and will feature an ensemble cast of 19 actors and a touring company of 32.
Garry Hynes, Artistic Director with Druid, commented, “Tom Murphy’s work has been essential to Irish life, to Irish theatre and to the development of Druid. It’s been a long-cherished ambition of ours to put together an ensemble company to perform a cycle of his plays for audiences all over Ireland and abroad.”
DruidMurphy revives the long-standing relationship between Tom Murphy and Druid who most recently worked together in 2009 when The Gigli Concert officially opened the refurbished Druid Lane Theatre.
Murphy was previously writer-in-association with the company and his plays, Bailegangaire and Conversations on a Homecoming, received their world premieres in the theatre on Druid Lane.
THE festival Big Top has an interesting line-up of Irish and international musicians, including a double-bill with James Vincent McMorrow and Lisa Hannigan, with support from Elaine Mai.
The legendary Christy Moore and Declan Sinnott will perform in a rare stand-up concert, with support from Four Men and a Dog.
Other musical highlights include The Coronas, renowned for their high-energy live shows, with support from Bressie and The Kanyu Tree, and Chic, led by the enigmatic Nile Rodgers in what promises to be the absolute party night of the year.
The West Cork Ukulele Orchestra, Kormac’s Big Band, Canadian virtuosic pianist, Michael Kaeshammer, The Fall, Samamidon, Fred and Jack L, all take to the stage at the Róisín Dubh, Monroe’s Live plays host to Damien Dempsey, Keywest and The Henry Girls, while Grammy Award winners Dave Alvin and The Guilty Ones and Gretchen Peters perform at Kelly’s Bar.
Crash Ensemble’s festival debut features the world premiere of Dimmerswitch by Daniel Figgis and classical concerts feature Singapore’s T’ang Quartet, the Brodsky Quartet and a special concert celebrating playwright Tom Murphy, presented by Classical Links.
The visual arts programme also features solo exhibitions by Brian Maguire, Joe Comerford, leading international video artist Marina Abramovic, in collaboration with Charles Atlas, and one of the greatest satirical artists of the 20th century, George Grosz.
Other Irish solo exhibitions include new shows from Mick O’Dea, Jennifer Cunningham and Ben Geoghegan.