Cllr. Gerry McMonagle is the new Chairperson of the Board of Directors of An Grianán Theatre taking over from Anne McGowan.
photo shows Cllr Gerry McMonagle presenting Anne McGowan with a bouquet of flowers. Also in picture is the Director of An Grianán Theatre Patricia McBride.
Cllr. McMonagle was elected to Letterkenny Town Council in 2004 and re-elected in 2009, elected Mayor of Letterkenny in 2011, and elected to Donegal County Council in May 2014. Gerry was elected Chairperson of the Committee of the West North West Regional Health Forum in 2014 and is involved in a number of Committees with Donegal County Council and is also a member of the Board of the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny. He is heavily involved in local community work, working as an Outreach and Development Worker with Abhaile Aris since 2002 and has been a Director of Letterkenny CDP since 2004.
Cllr. McMonagle takes over from Anne McGowan who has held the post for the past seven years.
In her term of office as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of an Grianán Theatre, Anne worked to ensure that good governance was embedded in the organisation. In recent months she oversaw the delivery of a Strategic Review of the Theatre which resulted in a new Three-Year Business Plan for an Grianán.
One of Anne’s achievements in that time was to have the Mayor of Letterkenny, Paschal Blake, renovate the plaza at the front of the building in 2014 and to commission a new town clock on the front of the building by the artist Christy Keeney, which was unveiled in May 2014.
She also welcomed the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins to the theatre in 2015 where he presented the town with its first prize in the Tidy Towns Competition. Anne was also the Chairperson of The Letterkenny Tidy Towns Committee at that time.
There are also two new members of the Board of Directors: Richard Gibson of Donegal County Council, and Rachel Akkoc of the Local Amateur Arts Community. For a full list of our Board members, and their biographies, please click here …. https://www.angrianan.com/board-of-directors/
“If you’d told me last year that I wouldn’t be allowed to travel more than two kilometres from home and that even sitting in a nice room with good people might be dangerous I would have smiled and felt sorry for you.”
In the new year we welcome back Little John Nee who will be joining us a theatre artist in residency in a new project supported by the Arts Council. The residency is a partnership between An Grianán, Town Hall Theatre Galway, Galway Co. Arts Office, Donegal Arts Service and Árus Éanna Arts Centre Inis Oírr Island, Galway.
I had no notion this time last year that all my upcoming plans, hopes and dreams would evaporate so fast. Things seldom go exactly as planned, I make allowances for that, but I hadn’t pencilled in the possibility that all the theatres would close or that live performance would almost exclusively occur online. If you’d told me last year that I wouldn’t be allowed to travel more than two kilometres from home and that even sitting in a nice room with good people might be dangerous I would have smiled and felt sorry for you. All I know how to do is make shows. That’s nearly my solution to everything. So I just kept going, working in my garage/studio. I was lucky, preparedness meets opportunity, and thanks to support from An Grianán I got to tour as part of Earagail Arts Festival, performing “Tilt of the Sky” for small socially distanced audiences outdoors. Arriving in mostly wee towns and villages, the time of the show not advertised so as to avoid large crowds gathering. That last sentence needs to be followed by a string of emojis. I am so glad and grateful I got to do it, it was magical, setting up, telling the story and singing the songs with those tentative audiences at the mercy of the summer weather. And my leopardskin brothel creepers caused a stir in Raphoe before the show even started.
“it feels like we’ve arrived in the right place at the right time, more aware than ever that adaptability is at the core of creativity.”
We began talking about this 2021 residency in 2019, we had no idea how dramatically things were about to change but strangely it feels like we’ve arrived in the right place at the right time, more aware than ever that adaptability is at the core of creativity.
I think we’re all different people now but the heart of the residency remains the same. I was part inspired by the legendary Johnny Doherty, Donegal’s beloved Traveller fiddle player. Nowadays we pride ourselves on our sophistication yet I often marvel at the sophistication of the artists who travelled this country for centuries, or those that stayed put in the one place but brought their neighbours on extravagant journeys of the imagination nevertheless. There was an emotional intelligence at play in the exchange between performer and audience that we seldom see now, a unique transmission of complex ideas and a world of information.
So as part of the residency I’d like to celebrate people coming together to tell stories, “in the one place”, connecting us not dividing us. It’s my belief that art makes us feel more like ourselves. I have a notion of including a sort of encyclopaedia of local artists that have made an impression but are in danger of being forgotten, likely they never considered themselves artists. I have no notion the best way to go about that yet, maybe online, possibly on audio or possibly we’ll meet in a car park late at night and you’ll surreptitiously pass me a scrap of paper with a name on it. I think it would be good also to look at how come there came to be a festival of world music and culture in Letterkenny way way before it was fashionable. Did Peter Gabriel pass through town during the International Folk festival in 1976 and get the idea for WOMAD? Did he rob our idea?
In this short blog it’s not practical to cover all the ideas or projects we hope to realise. It is a hope to have “In the one place” performances on the islands of Arranmore, Inisheer and Inishboffin Co. Galway and if the good islanders are willing we might add Inishboffin in Donegal to the list.
Half of the residency takes place in County Galway and at the Town Hall Theatre in Galway City and there will be similar events there on themes specific to the localities.
So there are plenty of details to follow, but I’d like to finish here by telling you there will be two new theatre production one in April and one in Autumn/Early winter. The first is a collaboration with the brilliant Laura Sheeran, “Drone Bone Jetty” A filmic/live performance hybrid set in a dystopian future where travel is limited, the climate is in peril but at least the pubs are open. The working title of the second show is “All the Small Ocean” and is a galivanting post pandemic spin from Donegal to Kerry hugging the Atlantic coast all the way like a teddy bear.
Little John Nee, December 2020.
Even though our doors are currently closed the show still goes on. We have teamed up with the Earagail Arts Festival to present Little John Nee’s The Tilt of the Sky tour from 21 to 25 July 2020.
We have commissioned renowned performer Little John Nee to take a tour of seven Donegal villages and towns (Malin, Culdaff, Raphoe, Letterkenny, Dunfanaghy, Gort an Choirce, Rathmullan) for a series of pop-up solo performances.
The lockdown allowed us all time to contemplate what was really important to us while at the same time putting a stop to any rambling.
For Little John Nee rambling is as important as anything and the hankering was growing stronger every day of the lockdown. So it is with a skittish exuberance beneath the tilt of the sky he takes the long road from Malin to Rathmullan creating fresh adventure along the way through song, story and throwing shapes.
In Rathmullan for the finale of the six day adventure Little John will perform for the first time “Blues Boy on Batt’s Walk” a musical spoken word climax to an evening of song and story that conjures a teenage Don Quixote camping at Kinnegar 1976 that opens with the line …“I was sixteen now I’m sixty”. It will also be broadcast live on Highland Radio.
With sincere thanks to McGrorys Hotel, Dillons Hotel, Corcreggan Mill and the Station House Hotel for their support of this tour.
Find out more at www.eaf.ie.
Little John Nee is a performer we’ve enjoyed a long, creative relationship with. In 2010/ 2011 he was our theatre artist in residence leading many workshops, performing shows, working on the book of his three ‘Donegal’ plays The Derry Boat, The Mental and Rural Electric, and creating a daily haiku. Subsequent to this work he recorded an album of songs with the Highly Strung Caledonian Orchestra.
We are delighted to be able to support the making of his latest play, Radio Rosario, which is part of the Dublin Theatre Festival this September. Set in Galway city, in the very near future in Radio Rosario John plays Valve Hegarty, a man who sings audio jingles to pay the rent; a drudgery that weighs heavily on him. He has a hankering for something of substance and is drawn to the beauty of 20th-century valve radios. A chance meeting in Clifden leads him to the site of the Marconi Station where a soundscape of ghostly broadcasts begins. Meanwhile, Rosario is… well, Rosario is Rosario.
In Radio Rosario, Little John Nee brings his musical storytelling on another step with long-time collaborator and creator Laura Sheeran, who we last saw on our stage with Little John in The Mental, she also performed in the foyer at the Crash Cabaret with her band Nanu Nanu, and a multi-award winning team. We very much hope to present Radio Rosario at An Grianán Theatre at some point during 2018.
We were delighted to welcome some of our favourite people – Jym and Chantal from Fidget Feet and Little John Nee to An Grianán for a week’s residency in April as they worked on their brand new show Bingo Wings which is due to make its debut in 2018.
They spend the week visiting day centres, swapping stories and playing bingo – not a bad way to spend a week! They also introduced members of our youth theatre to the joys of the bingo!
We are delighted for Pat Kinevane and our friends at Fishamble who won an Olivier Award for their show Silent at last night’s awards ceremony in London. And even better news is that you can see Silent for yourself in just a few short weeks as we will have it here on Thursday 28 April!
Silent tells the story of Tino McGoldrig, a man from the small Irish town of Cobh but living in Dublin, who is named for silent movie star Rudolph Valentino (‘Rudolph would have been a disaster in Cobh’). He is a homeless man who shares his story with passersby, describes the footwear of the pedestrians, and dances with a blanket representing his wife, fondly remembering their ballroom-dancing championships.
Challenging and provocative, funny and moving, physical and inventive, Silent showcases Pat Kinevane’s wicked sense of humour and highly theatrical imagination while simultaneously avoiding the pitfalls of becoming too worthy about the difficult topics of homelessness and mental health and the reluctance we have to talk about such issues.
Little John Nee, another renowned solo performer, earlier picked out Silent as his highlight of An Grianán’s current season: “To put it very simply Pat Kinevane is one of my favourite writers and performers on the whole planet, I come away from his shows simultaneously entertained, inspired and humbled and the world is always a richer place as I travel home; only great theatre can do that; it’s rare, don’t miss it!”
An Grianán Theatre’s director Patricia McBride had wanted to bring Silent to Letterkenny for some time now but owing to its globe trotting success finding a date in the schedule was difficult. “We’ve hosted quite a few Fishamble shows and they are all quality theatre productions – last year’s ballroom dancing comedy Swing, Colin Murphy’s docu-drama Guaranteed!, Sonya Kelly’s wonderful comedy The Wheelchair on my Face and Sebastian Barry’s The Pride of Parnell Street – and they always go down well with our audiences. We had been hearing amazing things about Silent since its debut back in 2011 so we’re delighted to have it as one of the highlights of our Spring drama programme. And of course we are thrilled for Pat Kinevane and all our friends at Fishamble on winning an Olivier Award. It’s always great to see Irish Theatre performing so well on the international stage and how lucky are we to be able to present it right here in Letterkenny.”
Silent was awarded the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre following its run at London’s Soho Theatre last year. Founded in 1976, the Olivier Awards have become British Theatre’s most sought after award and are globally recognised as a mark of theatrical greatness.
Fishamble: The New Play Company present
Silent by Pat Kinevane
Thursday 28 April 2016 at 8pm.
Tickets; €16/€12 BOOK NOW!
I was sitting in the theatre cafe one lunchtime enjoying the lovely food and chatting away to Little John Nee, who had popped in to eat as he often does when he’s in town, and he asked what shows we had coming up. I reeled off the list of upcoming Drama and John nodded along ‘good, good, that’s a fine show, good, good jeez it’s a fine season you have there’* Then I got to Fishamble and Pat Kinevane’s Silent and John became visibly animated, ‘That’s one of the best theatre shows ever, everyone should go see that’.
Now one of the things I believe about selling a show is you can sell anything if you’re passionate enough about it. We all can get carried away by other people’s passions from time to time, I remember standing in the queue at Milford Garda Station chatting to a fella who was passionate about vintage tractors and it rubbed off on me so much that for a week or two so was I. So I knew that when it came to writing about the show in our new magazine, An Grianán Extra, rather than me, who hasn’t seen it, taking up all the words I’d be a sight better off getting John to, and he was good enough to do just that, so here’s what he wrote:
‘I am delighted to be asked to tell you about Pat Kinevane’s “Silent” for I can say with certainty that if you go to see the show on the basis of my recommendation you will be eternally grateful to me. To put it very simply Pat Kinevane is one of my favourite writers and performers on the whole planet, I come away from his shows simultaneously entertained, inspired and humbled and the world is always a richer place as I travel home; only great theatre can do that; it’s rare don’t miss it!’
And so what’s the point of this post when the show hasn’t been on yet and I haven’t seen it yet either? Well this week it was nominated for an Olivier Award! the British Theatre Oscars as it’s often referred to, a rare honour for an Irish play. It qualifies because of its run in London last year. So, you know, if Little John Nee tells you a horse is a good horse, I’d suggest putting a few bob on it …
So, what you now should do is book to see Silent when it’s here at An Grianán Theatre on Thursday 28th April, here’s the link to book too Silent By Pat Kinevane booking link
*my apologies to John for any liberties taken in my representation of him chatting, I’m claiming artistic licence!
An Grianán Extra – A Wee Bit More is our new arts magazine.
Designed to compliment our standard events brochure, Extra offers a slightly more in depth look at some of our upcoming shows.
We have a profile on Donegal playwright Frank McGuinness written by Jessica Trainer, Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre as well as a piece by theatre-artist-in-residence Guy Le Jeune talking about what he has planned for his residency.
Our cover art is by artist Laura Buchanan and is inspired by photos from the 1916 Rising.
We also have a look back at the controversy surrounding The Kings of the Kilburn High Road when we first had it back in 2000.
Writer and local historian Kieran Kelly introduces his new play Beneath An Irish Sky which looks at how the events of the 1916 Rising affected Donegal. We will be holding a rehearsed reading of it as part of our short series events remembering 1916 which you can also read about in Extra.
Our director Patricia McBride offers her pick of the season as does well known writer and performer Little John Nee. What shows did they pick? Read the magazine now to find out!
You can read An Grianán Extra – A Wee Bit More online now. Hard copies are available at our box now.
It’s nearly arts festival time again! Have you downloaded the programme yet?
We’re gearing up for a very busy and arts filled July here at An Grianán. We’re the official box office for the Earagail Arts Festival so you can buy tickets for events happening here in An Grianán and right across the county!
Comedy with Neil Delamere
Our festival events kick off on Sat 11 July with a night of stand up comedy from Neil Delamere who is back with his show The Fresh Prince of Delamere. He sold out last time to this is one to book your tickets in advance for!
Overture: A Magical Italian Bubble Concerto
Full of bubbles and all the way from Italy is the wonderful family show Overture. From odd instruments giant bubbles appear, bouncing bubbles, portable bubbles, bunches of bubbles, so many bubbles! If you are very lucky you might even get to stand inside a giant, people-sized bubble!
Comedy Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!
Next up we have the farcical comedy Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! from newly formed local company Bread and Roses Theatre. Directed by Katheen McCreery, the excellent cast features Valerie Bryce, Margaret Hannon and Eoghan Mac Ghiolla Bhríde from last year’s hugely successful festival play, Fiesta, along with Paul Bonar (The 39 Steps) and Martin McGinley, best known as one of Donegal and Ireland’s finest fiddle players. Written by Dario Fo, the only actor to ever win a Nobel Prize, his plays are as fiercely provocative as they are funny, and as relevant today in Donegal as in Fo’s native Italy.
Little John Nee and the Caledonia Highly Strung Orchestra
Perennial favourite Little John Nee has reassembled his Caledonia Highly Strung Orchestra to present “Lough Swilly Delta Live”. In addition to songs from their debut album “Songs from the Lough Swilly Delta the show will feature their latest new compositions, musical stories, comedy and the drama of being highly strung on the road.A mixture of comic blues and haunted ballads, featuring songs from “The Derry Boat”, “The Mental”, “Dead Rooster Blues”, “Sparkplug” and others all given the “Highly Strung” treatment; the warm earthy guitars of Fionn Robinson, the Ella-mental voice and kaleidoscopic clarinets of Orlaith Gilcreest, the pulsing piano and hair-blowing Hammond of Jeremy Howard as well and Little John’s trademark ukulele and cigar box guitar.
The Dubliners’ Dilemma
The Dubliners’ Dilemma is an acclaimed one man show that brings the stories and controversies of James Joyce’s remarkable first book “Dubliners” to vivid life. The year is 1914. London publisher Grant Richards has determined to re-read Joyce’s controversial manuscript, eight years after rejecting it over fears it might breach strict British and Irish obscenity laws. Should Richards be the one to risk everything now, second time around, and launch this volatile but brilliant genius on a world about to descend into the madness of war?
Fairytale favourites from Banyan Puppet Theatre
We’re delighted to welcome back Banyan Puppet Theatre. Banyan’s beautifully crafted and imaginative shows were one of the talking points of our festival shows last year, delighting young and old alike. This year they are presenting two new shows: The Elves and the Shoemaker and The History of Tom Thumb. Ideal for younger audiences and their families.
Our pick of the festival! How to Keep an Alien
On the heels of the marriage equality referendum, Rough Magic’s How to Keep an Alien is very topical! The List have named this as one of the must see shows of the upcoming Edinburgh Fringe Festival – but why go all the way to Scotland when you can come and see it here! ‘How to Keep an Alien’ is a funny and tender autobiographical tale in which Irish Sonya and Australian Kate meet and fall in love, but Kate’s visa is up and she must leave the country. Together they must find a way to prove to the Department of Immigation that they have the right to live together in Ireland. And it isn’t going to be easy!
Visual Arts: Donegal – Home
Our visual arts exhibition this year is ‘Donegal – Home‘ and features work by artists who are either from Donegal or have chosen the county as their home. Artists include Paul Rooney, Richard Wayman, Declan Doherty, Simon Birch, Denzil Browne, Jan Voster, Katrina Quille, Cathal McGinley, Ian Gordon, Johnny Boyle, Una Campbell and Caitlin Gallagher.
There are loads more events happening across the county – check out the official Earagail website for the full list of events!
Festival events at An Grianán at a glance:
Sat 11 July, 8pm: Neil Delamere
Tues 13 July, 3pm: Overture
Thur 16 & Fri 17 July, 8pm: Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!
Sat 18 July, 8pm: Little John Nee and the Highly Strung Orchestra
Sun 19 July, 8pm: The Dubliners’ Dilemma
Fri 24 July, 8pm: How to Keep an Alien
Friday 10 July 2015 – Saturday 8 August 2015: Donegal: Home