Thursday, July 31, 2008

Great Hamlets

In today's Guardian, Michael Billington lists the ten best performances as Hamlet in his 50 years of theatre- and cinema-going. In chronological order, his choices are Michael Redgrave (1958), Innokenty Smoktunovsky (film 1964), David Warner (1965), Derek Jacobi (1979), Michael Pennington (1980), Jonathan Pryce (1980), Stephen Dillane (1994), Kenneth Branagh (film, 1996, pictured), Angela Winkler (2000) and Simon Russell Beale (2000). Full article here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sharon Olds interview

Today in the Guardian there is a rare interview (by Marianne Macdonald) with the fine American poet Sharon Olds. Occasionally her poems have been on the Ordinary Level Leaving Certificate course (such as 'The Present Moment'), though a selection would surely go down well at Higher Level.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Big Love

The new production by the talented Selina Cartmell, whose Macbeth at The Empty Space we reviewed here, is Big Love at the Peacock, and has recently been positively reviewed by Emer O'Kelly in the Sunday Independent, Helen Meany at the Guardian, and Sarah Keating in the Irish Times.

Big Love, by the American playwright Charles Mee, can be read in full on his site here. It's an adaptation of The Danaids (The Suppliants) by Aeschylus (full translation here). Mee's introduction states that 'the setting for the piece should not be real, or naturalistic. It should not be a set for the piece to play within but rather something against which the piece can resonate: something on the order of a bathtub, 100 olive trees, and 300 wine glasses half-full of red wine', and Cartmell's production certainly gets into this spirit, being inventive, energetic and visually arresting - a tonic in another rainy Irish summer.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Eleven Houses

Old Columban Christopher Fitz-Simon's memoir Eleven Houses has been a great critical success, and is now out in paperback. The week after next, the author will be reading extracts on RTE Radio 1 in the late night slot at 11.45pm (from Monday 28th July). There's an extract in the Irish Times here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hugh Lane Exhibition

In today's Irish Times, Aidan Dunne reports on the new exhibition at the Hugh Lane Dublin City Gallery, which revisits the famous 1908 exhibition. The Hugh Lane bequest prompted Yeats's poem 'September 1913', known to generations of English pupils in Ireland through its appearance in the book Soundings, and still being studied (in rotation) on the new Leaving Certificate course.

In the words of the Gallery's website:

The gallery is hugely significant in the history of the State not only because of its renowned and international collection of art, but also in its association with twentieth century literature in particular the Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats.

W.B.Yeats recalls the controversy, disappointments and eventual joy in the permanent location of the collection in Charlemont House, in a number of poems including the wonderfully titled 'To A Wealthy Man Who Promised A Second Subscription To The Dublin Municipal Gallery If It Were Proved The People Wanted Pictures', 'September 1913' and the poignant 'The Municipal Gallery Revisited.'