Jun. 21, 2011 - Issue #818: Brian Wilson
The Irish thread
The Serca Theatre Festival unearths the Emerald Isle's influence
Henderson, artistic director of both Theatre Prospero and the Serca Irish Theatre Festival, is discussing what it is about Irish theatre that seems to resonate so fully throughout the theatrical world. It's not a simple answer: denizens of the Emerald Isle just seem to have a knack for deeply affecting stagework (whether that's comedy or tragedy or, most often, both), which Henderson partly attributes to a history akin to the darkest black comedies, "full of blood and contradictions." He also notes that the spread of Irish sentiment goes well beyond national borders these days.
"Were you to pull the Irish thread out of the English-speaking idiom, it would be, well, it might not be entirely boring, but it might be two-thirds of what it is," he says. "No CODCO. No Kids in the Hall. No U2. No Van Morrison ... We're largely unconscious of this, because it's the air that we breathe."
With that in mind, the Serca festival, now entering its second year, aims to showcase that thread in a wealth of plays linked to Ireland's finest minds: from four excerpts of Surreal SoReal's December run of Beckett's Shorts to a staged reading of Maggie Now parts one through four—each part garnering massive Fringe acclaim over the past few years. There's a pair of plays by Brian Friel, Faith Healer and Molly Sweeny, each an interlocking series' of monologues, and our own Jeff Page has turned Oscar Wilde's prison writings into Secrets of Immortality, while Owen McCafferty's Mojo Mickybo is a tale of two boys whose play-fighting in 1970s Belfast mimics the very real adult war they see unfolding around them.
The fest itself is also framed in a pub atmosphere: in between shows at La Cité Francophone—a lovely building to spend time in, regardless of the context—are readings of Irish poetry, live performances of fiddle music and, Henderson points out with a grin, pints of Guinness.
"When we think of culture, we think of something that's separate from ordinary, everyday life," he says. "But as far as I can see it, Irish culture, with respect to theatre, is simply an extension of that basic everyday activity that you might call culture."
Tue, Jun 28 – Sun, Jul 3
Serca Irish Theatre Festival
La Cité Francophone, $14 – $16, or
$40 – $50 for a festival pass vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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