Thoughts on the Dublin Theatre Festival

CathyEdwards.jpgA blog from the road by Director of Performance Programs Cathy Edwards

One of the things I love about attending the Dublin Theatre Festival is the festival tagline: Dublin Loves Drama. Certainly the festival feels like it is everywhere, and posters and signs blanket the city center. I've attended the festival several times over the past few years and it is always a fruitful place for research, discovering work, and meeting with colleagues in order to create plans for touring international theater projects. As in past years, this was an exciting time and a chance to reconnect with Irish artists and companies.

The Theater Festival presents both Irish and international work-the afternoon I arrived, I was especially excited to see the Australian circus-theater-dance ensemble Circa, which has been garnering a lot of attention. I loved the ensemble, the honesty, gumption and raw energy of the group, and especially the breath-taking acrobatics.

The Irish highlight was the opportunity to see the Druid Theatre Company, who will be performing in June 2011 here in New Haven as part of Arts & Ideas. In Dublin, I saw their brilliant production of Sean O'Casey's rarely performed play The Silver Tassie; in New Haven, they will be bringing their acclaimed production of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan, both hilarious and dark. All the hallmarks of Druid's work-the incredible production, the brilliant actors, the vision of director Garry Hynes-were on display in Silver Tassie. I thought Fintan O'Toole's piece in The Irish Times was especially perceptive. I can't wait to have The Cripple of Inishmaan here in New Haven in June.

Also high on my list was Pan Pan Theatre Company's deconstructed and devised take on Hamlet, The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane in which the first act takes place in a rehearsal room, at the end of which the audience votes to select which of three actors auditioning for the role of Hamlet will play the part in act two. Act two is set in a purgatory-like graveyard in which the denouement of Hamlet takes place, with the audience's choice of Hamlet echoed by his two ghostly rivals. Riveting, densely layered, and unique!

The day that I left, I attended a dress rehearsal of Samuel Beckett's Act Without Words II, a production of company SJ featuring Raymond Keane of Barabbas (Arts & Ideas fans will remember that Raymond and Barabbas brought Circus to the festival in June 2009), which was a riveting piece of physical theater reflecting Beckett's vision of despair and destitution.

Special thanks to the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and the Cultural Exchange Fund, which underwrote my attendance at the Dublin Theatre Festival.