Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

‘Aftermath’ shines light on human impact of Iraq war

Published

on

Date Published: {J}

Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen of New York Theatre Workshop made their names as writers for the powerful play, The Exonerated, which told the true story of six people sentenced to Death Row in America for crimes they didn’t commit.

The play toured all over the world, and was translated into many languages while a film version was also made, starring Susan Sarandon, Brian Dennehy and Aidan Quinn.

Among those whose stories featured in The Exonerated was Sunny Jacobs, who spent 16 years on Death Row in Florida, wrongly convicted of murdering two policemen. She now lives in Galway and Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen hope to visit her when their new show, Aftermath receives its Irish premiere at this year’s Galway Arts Festival.

Aftermath, again based on real people’s experiences, is a dramatic retelling of the stories of ordinary Iraqi people who, in the chaos and lawlessness following the invasion of their country, fled to the relative safety of Jordan.

Erik and Jessica travelled to Jordan’s refugee camps in 2008 where they met, among others, a pharmacist, a taxi driver, an artist husband and wife. These were, variously, Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and Christians. It is very middle class, says Erik from his New York base, explaining that they couldn’t gather the experience of less well off people because those people couldn’t afford to leave Iraq.

But the men and women they did meet told gripping stories, which husband and wife Erik and Jessica subsequently crafted into Aftermath.

“It was a wringing out your emotions,” says Erik of the interview experience.

Some people they interviewed had hope, others had humour, others had suffered serious damage to their bodies and spirits; still more were the only surviving members of their families.

“The whole gamut of human emotions was in these four-hour interviews,” he says. But although it was harrowing, it “was very satisfying work because the plays were there already, we were just freeing what already existed”.

Among those who shared their story were two artists, a husband and wife forced to leave Iraq because a mullah threatened them after they staged a festival with music. He decided that music was forbidden and they had to flee or face arbitrary punishment.

Erik and Jessica selected the best 10 interviews on the basis of what worked best together dramatically. The resulting piece was directed by Jessica, premiering to rave reviews in New York last year.

Like The Exonerated, Aftermath is a political play, but then Jessica believes all of life is political, with a small ‘p’, her husband explains.

“We take on these issues not to take on ‘hot topics’ but because certain topics are eternal. Power and the abuse of it and people’s relationship with it is eternal.”

For more, read this wek’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Published

on

A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

Continue Reading

Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

Published

on

Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Continue Reading

Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Published

on

Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

Continue Reading

Trending