Review of The Abbey’s Quietly

Not too long ago we at Droichead Youth Theatre were treated to Quietly by the Abbey Theatre in the Droichead Arts Centre, here’s this week’s guest writer, Jack Rogers, with a review!

 

Owen McCafferty’s new play Quietly was an interesting see with powerful performances by all the actors on stage. The story revolves around Jimmy and Ian, two middle aged Belfast men who are meeting in a pub for the first time. They have shared a dark past and need to talk about it.

(Beware, Spoiler)

From the onset I was apprehensive about this show giving the subject matter (The Troubles in the North) and I predicted it would be the same stories and horrors that I have read in my history book, however I decided not to judge this book by its cover. I walked into the theatre and was instantly struck by the wonderful set. It was a typical bar, but it somehow shocked me how life-like it was. However in between the time it took for me to take my seat and wait for the show to start, I noticed how clean the pub was, unlike any pub I’ve seen. I think it wouldn’t have hurt to maybe ruff up the bar slightly, and make it look like it was a bar. In the beginning we are introduced to our Polish bartender, Robert, and Jimmy, a middle aged man who has planned to meet someone in the bar. He lets on that the meeting won’t be a quiet one. The banter between the two is humorous but somehow tense, as the audience can tell that some of the things that Jimmy says is subtly relevant to the story, for example, his particular knowledge of a particular football match that his father had watched in that pub. Ian, who later on is said to be Jimmy’s age, walks in and the atmosphere immediately turns cold. After an awkward silence, Jimmy turns hostile toward Ian, and it’s clear that they both have history of some kind. The two exchange monologues and we find out that Ian had thrown a bomb into the very pub they sat in when he was sixteen. Jimmy’s father, along with five other men, were in it watching a football match that Jimmy had shown extensive knowledge in earlier. The monologues were very well performed, and honestly very emotional, however I couldn’t help but notice the bartender in between the long monologues and not once had he slipped out of character. This also gave me time to wonder how these two men were middle aged, despite looks. He may have been silent but that was a great thing to see. While Jimmy recited one of his monologues I thought of what I had read in my history book. The bombing and shooting. But even though it is tragic hearing a hundred people die without knowing anything other than that, I find it was worse hearing an individual story in great detail. That overall, was my favourite feeling I got from the play. But it was short lived… Something that annoyed me was that I was led to believe that Ian was the bad guy in this story. The impact of Jimmy’s monologue describing his father’s death was so touching, but I found it was ruined when Ian told of his misfortunes right after. It made me sympathise with him when I didn’t want to. However, this all rounded up to the final minutes of the show. I had hoped that there would be a dispute of some kind but the two walked up to each other and shook hands. Jimmy said that ‘they understood each other. I secretly didn’t want that, but probably just because it seemed like a happily ever after type of ending. But once I realised that both men will still have to live with the ghosts of their respective pasts, I under stood that it was appropriate (although that was not the absolute ending which I was glad for). As the barman closed up the pub he heard voices of teenagers outside that Jimmy referenced at the very beginning of the play, shouting “Fucking Polish bastard”. I thought this fit well as an ending as throughout the play, the phrase that they shouted had recurred throughout the play, only the middle word had been replaced with either “Fenian” or “Orange” in relation to what had been happening in the North. The repetition of this made the ending for me. I found that the end blinded me from what annoyed about the play. It was well performed, and don’t get me wrong there were some really great parts, it just wouldn’t be my favourite. But decide for yourself! Quietly is touring around Ireland. To find out what venues they will be showing at, go to http://www.abbeytheatre.ie

Thanks for Reading,

 -J

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Society Says…

This week we’re in for a treat as member Amy Smith gives us an opinion piece on how society impacts gender roles! 

Why can’t girls play with toy soldiers and boys play with dolls? Why can’t everything be unisex without there being a huge big deal? Society. That’s why. We all accidentally make mental notes whenever we see a girl in blue and a boy in pink. Whenever a boy asks his mom for dance lessons instead of martial arts. But it’s not our fault, it’s the way we’ve all been “programmed”. Our gene pool only dictates so much, how we look, personality elements and certain talents. Other than that we rely on the rest of the world to help us through. Our parents to help us with right or wrong and teachers to help us with knowledge. But everybody is biased and eager to infect everybody else with their views. And we ask. We ask why constantly when really that’s the problem. We’re noticing it. Our ears are sensitive to it when really if we ask about our views on same sex marriage we shouldn’t say it’s gay rights we should say equal rights. We need to stop asking questions and just get to live with it. We can’t keep asking ourselves why, because its life and life goes on. As I’ve often been told and said myself, build a bridge and get over it.

Droichead Youth Theatre at the Shaun Dunne Writing workshop

Hello and welcome back to Droichead Youth Theate online! This week we have triple the bloggy goodness as Anna McLoughlin, Andy McLoughlin, and Hannah Downes tell us about their experience at a writing workshop with Shaun Dunne, and Portmarnock Youth Theatre Project in Smock Alley theatre!

“We were all sitting upstairs when Shaun arrived. When we first reached Smockalley, we had a short tour of the building. When he came, we were brought downstairs into a theatre. Here we spent most of the workshop. This is where we all introduced ourselves and played a name game to get to know each other. After this, Shaun had a few people line up one behind the other and gave them a sentence. Each person had to say the line in a different style to the person standing behind them and the other person had to work with it and from these different, short scenes were created. The workshop was full of improvisation. We were split into three groups and there were three scripts floating around. Each group had to pick a sentence. At first the scripts were acted out just as they had been written, then, as we progressed, the sentences had to be incorporated into the story some how and lines could be changed and worked with. Then the scripts were abandoned and every pair had to improvise fully, and play off the other person’s character. From this completely new scenarios were created. Those watching were able to cut in and tell those performing what the next line should be. Staying in these groups, we came up with new pieces using the scripts to work off. We we were also given sheets that showed us how we should structure our short pieces. Time just flew by, before I knew it, it was three o’clock. We spent the last hour upstairs. We were given another sheet of paper that was full of questions that you should ask yourself when writing to keep up the excitement and to keep the story interesting. We were split into groups for the last time to put together another short piece, this time keeping the questions from the sheet in mind.”

-Anna

“The most fascinating part of the workshop for me was likely the experience of seeing a different drama group in their natural habitat. As somebody who’s only been part of this world for a very short space of time, it was a great opportunity to see people’s different style of working and behaving in the classes. It was a pleasure to see the Portmarnock team’s ability to improvise and set up a scene that others could run with. With the three of us mingling in amongst the fifteen odd Portmarnock kids, it was slightly intimidating to be in amongst them all at first. Almost immediately though, it was the similarities that stood out more than the differences. It seems that there is a certain spirit and attitude that drama groups all seem to have that make them very approachable and easy to be relaxed around. At the same time, we could take the whole thing seriously because we knew we were all there for the same reason. We shared the passion for learning about how to be good at what we were there to do and that made all the difference. What was also quite inspiring was to see more experienced and talented people treat the workshop. As well as the writer Shaun Dunne, who was facilitating that day, we were chaperoned by Andy Gallagher and Mark Hughes, former members of DYT. Aside from being very skilled and practised in performing, they were as enthusiastic and willing to participate as anybody they were accompanying. The whole experience goes to show the distances you can go by just embracing your genuine interest in something and then being able to show it to a group of people who couldn’t be more interested in seeing what you have to show them.”

-Andy

“Personally I found this workshop very helpful with my writing. This workshop teaches you how to plan your story and allows you to complete goals while writing. I would recommend this workshop to anyone who is interested in writing or anyone who dreams of being an author or playwirght.”

-Hannah

 

Thank you very much to our three lovely bloggers for this weeks entry, and be sure to check in with us again next Wednesday folks!

Droichead Youth Theatre’s trip to see…. Young Dramatic Arts Theatre Company’s performance of ‘Pronoun ‘ By Evan Placey

Welcome back to Droichead Youth Theatre Online, this week we have a review of Pronoun by Evan Placey, courtesy of member Louis Flanagan!”

“One minute you’re a concrete wall. The next you’re a waterfall.”

Walking into the Mill Theatre, Dundrum, I knew that ‘Pronoun’ – performed by Young Dramatic Arts Theatre Company – was going to be a real eye- opener. And it didn’t disappoint. The story of Dean, a sixteen year-old transgender male, longing to escape from the female body he was born into, is compelling and dark at times yet quirky and humorous at others. Throughout the play, the audience follows Dean – formally known as Isabella – on a journey to find who he truly is, a journey that affects his friends, family and most notably, ex-boyfriend Josh. During this journey, he is frequently visited by his idol James Dean – who appears to only him and whom he has now called himself after – who often teases him about his transformation but also advises him on how to be a “proper man”. Evan Placey brings light to a lot of important topics in this play, most notably sexuality, gender equality, identity and acceptance in society. At time when there are ongoing debates about homophobia in Ireland, this is a play that everyone, young and old, should see. It deals with Dean trying live a normal life as a boy and dealing with the pressures he faces being transgender teenager. It also deals with the people in his life – his bickering parents, his peers and Josh’s attempts to comfort and console him. As Dean quotes “I don’t want to be tolerated. I want to be admired. I want to be envied. I want to be loved.” It is, by far, the most powerful line of the play, Director Sarah Bradley’s adaption of Pronoun is of pure excellence. The incorporation of synchronised movement, music and lighting, creates a great piece of theatre and it flows beautifully. There are strong performances from all, especially the actors playing Dean and Josh – played by Jennifer O’Connell and James Killeen. I was certainly impressed. Some people will find this play quite challenging, it must be said. But it does open your eyes to these issues and how people cope with them. And it leaves you with important questions, long after the curtain falls. The title Pronoun asks you them question ‘should there be a pronoun for those who are transgender’? Perhaps it is time that there should be…. Runs from March 28th to 29th in The Lyric Theatre, Belfast.