The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TICKET ★ SEVEN DAYS - Laurence Mackin Peter Craw­ley


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.

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