Feb. 20, 2013 - Issue #905: DOA No more - Trading in punk for politics
Serca Festival of Irish Theatre
The Emerald Isle is known for many things, but aside from the go-to imagery of shamrocks and Guinness, there's an underlying thread in North American culture that is heavily built on and influenced by the Irish. Without it, there would be no CODCO, Kids in the Hall, U2 or many of the literary works we have come to know, such the oeuvre of Oscar Wilde.
"It it hadn't been for Irish civilization and Irish culture in the Dark Ages ... those guys saved the knowledge of how to read and write in Latin and Greek, and you know, literacy in general in a lot of ways for all of northwestern Europe for a good many centuries," explains Mark Henderson, director of the Serca Festival of Irish Theatre, which is now entering its fourth year of showcasing the often-unacknowledged Irish contribution to English-speaking culture. It's one that runs deep, from comedy to tragedy, and more often than not, he notes, a combination of the two.
"That's one of the things that hits the core of the Irish frame of mind, is that incredible literary tradition that goes beyond literary: it jumps into drama, the love of words, the love of irony, the frame of mind of people who, generally speaking, have not ever had a glut of wealth and power."
There's also an irony in discovering a cultural identity that Henderson suggests is similar to the search for Canadian identity. Henderson, a descendent of Anlgo-Irish ancestors, says the Irish identity is just as chimeric as Canada's, but within the tension of those ironies there's also incredible potential for discovery of the human condition—a common thread in Irish plays and literature.
"There's an openness to this culture that has endured so much. I think a quarter or more of Canadian culture is defined by the Irish mindset anyway," Henderson notes. "In a way, Irish theatre is already giving this to the Edmonton scene and always has been, either in theatre that is overtly Irish or Canadian theatre that has been suffused with that mindset and those sensibilities."
This year's lineup features the tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde, adapted by Elizabeth Hobbs, Jessica Peverett and Nicole Schafenacker; Grumpus Gets Revenge, an adaptation of one of the stories of Gulliver's Travels written and performed by Ken Brown; the tragic comedy Winners by Brian Freel, directed by Frank Zotter and finally, the classic Medea, directed by Henderson.
Tue, Feb 26 – Sun, Mar 3
La Cité Francophone
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