PICK OF THE WEEK
There’s a neat little game among festivals where most will try to claim a world first, no matter how ridiculous. The Beara Arts Festival has a punt this week, with a work that sounds intriguing. The Dursey Island cable car has a sonic installation featuring the electronic music of Cormac Mac an Fhalla,and three poems by his mum, Annette Skade. The piece is one of a series of “sonic boxes” installed at various locations around the Beara peninsula for the duration of the festival. A gem of an idea. FOOTSBARN AT KILKENNY ARTS FESTIVAL If the counter-cultural dreams of theatre students in the late 1960s and early 1970s were allowed to flourish in a bucolic environment, you would end up with something like Footsbarn, the travelling theatre company that turned 45 this year.
Born in a Cornwall farm and now based in another in Boubonnaise, at the centre of France, Footsbarn prefers to see itself as truly nomadic. Performing its wide range of work in its famous tent, currently pitched on the grounds of the Kilkenny County Hall for this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival, Footsbarn makes itself at home anywhere. That’s always been reflected in its performance style too, expressed by an international cabal of performers, who are accustomed to engaging large and diverse audiences through huge spectacle, physical performance, music, comedy, masks, mime and puppetry. If everybody has always welcomed Footsbarn, it’s because they make the kind of theatre that has always welcomed everybody.
Here they bring us two shows. The first builds on their classic repertoire with the Incomplete Works of Shakespeare, created this year to celebrate the 452nd anniversary of the playwright’s birth (or the 400th anniversary of his death, if you prefer), in which The Bard is absorbed into images of his plays like an Elizabethan fever dream. Picture a three-headed Shakespeare, an audition of male Juliets, a duel between different villains, a giant apparition of the Dark Lady from the Sonnets. The second, Cuckoo’s Nest (above), the company’s adaptation of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over . . . , is as hallucinatory as you would expect, where puppetry and masks create the disorder and resistence of the psychiatric patients as they rebel against tyrannical rule. It sounds, in both cases, like fitting material for a company born to break free.