She Stoops to Conquer: a review

This week we have Rachel Byrne’s review of the Abbey Theatre’s She Stoops to Conquer directed by Conall Morrison. Enjoy!
She Stoops to Conquer, a show about love, pride and society, what more could you expect?
 
Originally set in London in the late 1700s, the plot shows the endeavors of a young Mr Marlow who has set out to become a suitor for Kate Hardcastle’s hand in marriage. His own father and Mr Hardcastle are long time friends, and Marlow is following his fathers requests by trying for Kate’s hand. He has her fathers approval and he seems to be a charmer with the barmaids, but with educated, wealthy, upper class women, he quickly loses his charm and becomes a babbling, stumbling coward. How will Kate get him to come out of his terrified shell? Well, you’ll have to see the play, of course!
 
The play is set the Dublin countryside, although originally written for London, and we see most of the action in the Hardcastle family homestead. The actual set onstage was wonderful, with the staircase and balcony adding brilliant levels and vibrancy to the play, and the whole motif of banging and slamming doors, moving the play from scene to scene, really kept the play moving at a fast pace and kept the audience on the edge of their seats… And you would want to be! With live music on the stage in every scene, whether it be a harpsichord, mandolin, violin, flute or even a tenor saxophone… there was never a dull (or quiet) moment. Even if there was a lull in the conversations onstage, it was usually filled with a good giggle from the crowd. Full of fantastic one-liners and a good dose of dramatic irony, the play was full of life, music, action and humor.
 
And a pond.
An actual pond with water, muck, grass, moss… the whole nine yards! Concealed under trap doors under the stage, lifted up onto the stage during the second act, the pond held host to a brawl between Mrs Hardcastle and her own husband, Mr Hardcastle, who she has mistaken for some sort of attacker. With mud, leaves and water all over the stage you could only imagine the mess backstage and the havoc of super quick costume changes..
 
As a whole, the play was lively, humorous, musical and all-round entertaining. With a wide range of characters, from proud old men, posh old women, and selfish little brothers, a very engaging plot, and a nice little romantic yet devious sub plot, this play would float anyone’s boat!

Random Ramblings of a Newbie

This week, new member Andrew Byrne talks about his experience with DYT, what its meant to him, and why you should try it too!

  As part of my work experience with my new drama teacher Christina at Droichead Youth I’ve had to compose a post for the blog. And what better to write about than my experience as a new member to DYT? I should begin by saying I have a long past in drama, from the age of five I have been attending the Little Duke where I’ve studied Speech, Drama and Dance and completed many exams with the Royal Irish Academy at a high level. The Little Duke was great and opened so many doors for me but there is a huge contrast between its style and that of DYT. Over the past few years I heard about DYT from many of my friends who go there. It sounded interesting but I had neither the time to join another drama group, nor the desire to leave the one I was in (The Little Duke just meant too much to me).

 

So when I started TY I saw a great opportunity to take hold of. I finally had time to sample DYT and see what it was like. So I saved up so I could pay for one (very reasonably priced) term, and joined in September of last year. Although I’ve only been there for a short time, it has honestly been one of the best experiences of my life. DYT is like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s a completely new experience, which I am all the better for having taken part in. It’s a friendly, inclusive environment and I feel right at home there. There’s a freedom of expression and everyone gets an input into the work we do. All ideas are taken on board and given a chance so that all decisions are group ones that everyone is happy with. I honestly look forward to every Friday night just so I can go to class. It is completely new for me. Even though I love the Little Duke and nothing can replace the years I spent there, the friendships I’ve developed and the doors it has opened for me, DYT is a completely different experience and I love it all the more for it. It teaches drama through a different style, one that is freer and allows for more enjoyment to be had in between work. If you are considering joining drama, whatever your age, I highly recommend DYT!

 And that’s not to mention our most fabulously brilliant teacher Christina (whom I feel I must include) that I absolutely adore for so many reasons. From her hard work and care for every one of her students to her ability to get up and sing and dance with you to a Disney musical soundtrack. She not only makes you feel welcome but feel like you are more than just another student to her, like you are actually her friend. I cannot stress how important it is to be able to have this relationship with your teacher as it makes you feel more comfortable and able to freely share your ideas without fear of embarrassing yourself or being judged. 

 In short; I am in love with DYT and everything about it. From it’s very odd set of rules (which includes no biting, climbing out windows, or chopping your finger off in doors) to its judgment free, familial atmosphere. I’m looking forward to what I hope will be a very long and enjoyable future here with all the new friends I’ve made and can’t wait to see what comes next!

-From DYT, with love, 

Andrew Byrne ^-^ xx

Sexualisation of cartoons? Let it go!

With Christmas just gone and the stockings filled, a whole slew of parents who weren’t cool enough to go to the cinema are now getting to experience the magic of Frozen for the first time. This week we have Blaithin Phelan Curtis telling us about some brewing controversy surrounding the flick’s signature ballad.

Let it Go is as memorable as it is unavoidable. Between singalongs and covers, it’s amassed over 1 billion YouTube views, and both the single and soundtrack to the movie were top ten hits around the world. The lyrics of the song itself are innocent, but with fame comes controversy and I’ve been hearing about a large amount of adults (let’s face it, parents mostly) who have decided that the song sexualises the heroine, Elsa.

The story goes that Elsa’s attire and powers are symbolic of her reflects her current emotions and state of being. So, in the beginning of the film, when Elsa wore a modest dark green dress, with her hair in a neat bun, she was careful, quiet and composed, afraid to let anyone see how she felt. When she leaves Arendale because of the “damage” caused, she realises that on her own, she can express her emotions without hurting anyone.

Let it Go is the realisation of this freedom and then some. By the end of the song, Elsa throws away her crown (a metaphor for responsibility) and takes out her bun making her hair attractive and less proper. People claim that, coupled with the “suggestive” lyrics like “That perfect girl is gone”, Elsa’s new attire sexualises her character, and indeed, the most notable change was her dress. Her dress became an icy colour, sequined with snowflakes. The dress shows off her figure and has a daring thigh-high slit.

I personally don’t see the problem. When my sister watches Frozen, she doesn’t think Elsa is “too sexy” for embracing herself and her body. She sees a princess with amazing abilities who doesn’t want to hurt people. If we’re to follow the logic being used here, where the main character’s clothes and powers symbolises her state of mind, the arguments begin to fall apart. To complain about this song reinforcing gender norms is missing the point. Elsa’s singing because she doesn’t have to care what you think of her dress any more.

As for the actual lyrics, I didn’t see anything sexual or “influential” in them at all, at least not in a bad way. The lyrics were about being the freedom to be happy with yourself and your imperfections, to be able to express yourself knowing you don’t have to worry about people’s expectations. After all, we’re talking about a movie that broke out against expectations of women. It would be a shame to forget what this film is really about. Independence, and being happy without fear, and knowing that this doesn’t mean being afraid to ask for help when you need it.