Date Published: 19-Sep-2012
Marina Carr’s play Woman and Scarecrow will be performed at the Town Hall Theatre next Wednesday and Thursday by Cork based company Blood in the Alley.
In this dark and funny drama, Carr explores the world between living and dying, as Woman on her deathbed, looks back on a life half lived and faces the ghosts of her past.
The superb cast includes Geraldine Plunkett, Mark O’Regan, Noelle Browne and Joan Sheehy as Woman.
“It’s very irreverent. It’s about death but it’s funny. It takes a sideways look at death,” says Joan. “There is a great earthiness about it, but a mythical quality too,” she feels. “Marina is a countrywoman so that earthiness is important. That’s what I respond to.”
Joan describes the world of the play as “very recognisable, but also not, this being Marina”.
Offaly born Marina Carr is best known for her plays By the Bog of Cats, On Raftery’s Hill, The Mai, and Portia Coughlan, in which she weaves supernatural and mystical elements into her examination of troubled family lives.
This work, Woman and Scarecrow, was first performed by Fiona Shaw at London’s Royal Court in 2009.
Woman has had eight children during her thirty-year marriage to the Man, played by Mark O’Regan, but to him she is not so much a person as a mother and a wife. In her final hours, she battles with the figure of Scarecrow, who “is her alter-ego or soul or potential”, says Joan, and it is Scarecrow who forces Woman to examine her life.
“You get to see her life through her stories. There’s her husband and her aunt, Auntie Aah [Geraldine Plunkett], who has come from Connemara to lay her out . . . and to tell her all the wrong things she has done in her life. They are all raging at her for lying down and dying. It’s so poetic and earthy. At one moment she’s talking about Caravaggio and then Demis Roussos is playing.”
Woman and Scarecrow is directed by Geoff Gould, founder of Ballydehob based Blood in the Alley Theatre, the company behind West Cork’s Fit-up Festival, which is now in its fourth year.
That has become a really exciting and important festival, especially for new work, says Joan.
Blood in the Alley’s main ethos is to produce new or contemporary work, and last year the group presented Woman and Scarecrow for seven nights in West Cork, after which Geoff successfully applied for a touring grant.
In last year’s production Bríd Ní Neachtain played Scarecrow but was unavailable for this revival, so the part has been taken by Noelle Browne. Otherwise, it’s the same cast and they had a two-week rehearsal period, with their newest member.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Galway have lot to ponder in poor show
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013