Written by 5:47 pm Devious News, Theatre News

5 Hot Tips For The 2011 KAF Theatre & Dance Strand

This part of the year always comes around so quick… but then again, no harm. At the tail end of every Kilkenny Arts Festival myself and Ken will say to each other ‘Can’t wait for next year’ so maybe it’s a good thing that we don’t need to get impatient. When we’re not making theatre here in Kilkenny, myself and Ken do the online coverage and blogging for Kilkenny Arts Festival in August. This is our third year and we’re exceedingly excited about knuckling into this years festival.

Of course, as men who run a theatre company, we take a particular interest in the Theatre & Dance strand of the festival. After a superlative line up in 2010, this years line up looks to be just as diverse and exciting. It features a nice mix of past performers and debutantes and should be a spread of work that will cater to a wide range of sensibilities.

Here’s 5 hot tips for this years theatre and dance strand:

1. Eileen Walsh is probably the best actress in Ireland

But you already knew that, right? As one of our most decorated and lauded actresses Eileen Walsh is a guarantee of quality in any show she appears in. In the company of Corcadorca, with whom she burst onto the scene with Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs in the mid 90’s, it’s a surefire recipe for success. After doing the festival rounds in Cork and Galway, Request Programme opens in Kilkenny on the opening day of the festival and sees Walsh give a solo performance in an apartment with a small audience witnessing her every day rituals. The performance takes place in a city apartment so you can imagine the audience is going to be small. For an opportunity to see one of Ireland’s brightest stars in close proximity, we recommend you get tickets for this one very quickly.

2.Not Your Usual Beowulf

Certainly not in the classic sense anyway. New York’s Banana Bag and Bodice theatre company make original theatre using music and a whole lot of mayhem. Their adaptation of the epic poem promises to be a raucous performance featuring a 7 piece band and fusing jazz, rock, punk, electronica and Romantic Lieder. If you want to see how Set Theatre looks as a Scandinavian mead hall then this is the show to book tickets for. And in a strand choc full of shows that are that little bit different, this one still manages to stand out with bloody arms outstretched. There are only going to be 3 performances of Beowulf during the festival so make sure you get tickets for it while you still can because it will likely sell out before word of mouth even has time to travel.

3. ponydance are back!

My own personal favourite of last years festival was ponydance’s amazing where did it all go right in Left Bank. So I am doubly excited that this amazing dance theatre company are making a return to Kilkenny this August. What’s even more amazing is that this is a free show. So you won’t have to pay a penny for what will potentially be the best show of the festival! What you will have to do is book in advance though because these free tickets are not going to wait around for you to pick them up. The show takes place in a slew of Kilkenny venues so expect the versatility and spontaneity that these ‘incorrigible flirts’ (The Irish Times) have become renowned for.

4. Una McKevitt Dishes Out More Reality

After last years festival smash Victor and Gord, Una McKevitt returns with another slice of reality. The Big Deal is a story about two women who knew from a young age that they were born into the wrong bodies. It should prove to be another personal, warm and moving show. Victor and Gord was an immediate word of mouth hit when it opened in Kilkenny last year so I’d expect a lot more of the same with The Big Deal. It takes place in The Barn from August 10th and its nice to see one of Kilkenny’s best and most underutilised venues hosting one of the big shows of the festival.

5. It’s Tom Creed’s Last Festival

Before he moves on to the job of festival director of Cork Midsummer Festival, Tom Creed will be curating the final of his four Kilkenny Arts Festival Theatre & Dance programmes. Since 2008 he has done a fantastic job of gradually moving this strand away from the all too frequent staples of Shakespeare and Beckett and provided theatre audiences with a cornucopia of theatre and dance of different shapes and sizes. Looking back on 4 years of programming, he has done a remarkable job of bringing the best of established and up and coming Irish and international talent to Kilkenny. The buzz around the theatre and dance strand has grown steadily and it’s been hugely satisfying to see the uptake in young people attending shows every year since 2008. It’s safe to say that he has set a precedent that will be a tough act to follow. So do yourself a favour and catch as much of this years theatre & dance programme as you can lest you ever have to dejectedly utter the words ‘I wish I’d seen it when Tom Creed programmed it’ in the future.

John Morton

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