Reading Plays – Interview – Cast of ‘Welcome to the Ethics Committee’

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Download: Interview – Cast of ‘The Ethics Committee’

Bit of a departure for you today. We interview the cast of the recent Smock Alley production of ‘Welcome to the Ethics Committee’.

The play was based on the collaborative fiction project, The SCP Foundation, and was written and directed by Katherine Farmar. We spoke to some members of the cast – Elitsa Dimova, Libby Russell, Jack Beglin, Liam Hallahan, and Declan Gillen.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Reading Plays – Episode 7 – Doubt (Part 1)

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Download: Reading Plays – Episode 7 – Doubt (Part1)

In the introduction to his already classic play ‘Doubt: A Parable’, JP Shanley writes ‘we are living in a culture of extreme advocacy, of confrontation, of judgment, and of verdict’. In the decade since the publication of the play, as the culture wars have expanded, his words have seemed ever more prescient. Doubt is a work with uncertainty at its heart. The play deals with a monstrous allegation and it’s consequences, but its theme is really the consequence of ignoring such allegations. Shanley challenges us to acknowledge in doubt, the possibility of growth, to chose a shared illusion a little less distant from reality, to sacrifice the vestments of perceived virtue for robes of uncertain good. Doubt was awarded the Pulizer prize for drama as well as a Tony Award for Best Play, and has been adapted into both an opera and an academy award nominated film.

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: We continue our discussion of Doubt by JP Shanley.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Reading Plays – Episode 6 – Arcadia

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Download: Reading Plays – Episode 6 – Arcadia

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

The titular Arcadia is Sidley Park, Estate of the earl of Croom. We enter Sidley park at the dawn of the 19th century, and today, as two parallel storylines converge to resolve a literary mystery. Arcadia is a Wildely brilliant farce, which examines the spirit of an age and it’s relationship to time, the mathematics of chaos and it’s relationship to determinism, and whether knowledge is ultimately discovered or created. The play was written in 1993, and first staged at the Lyttelton Theatre in London, starring Rufus Sewell, Felicity Kendal and Bill Nighy. It was awarded the Lawrence Oliver award for best new play, and the Tony for best play. Today we discuss whether the work achieves its aim of marrying rapier wit to intellectual rigor, or merely orders the chaos of half understood ideas to don a costume of regency verbiage.

Next weeks play

Doubt by JP Shanley. We’re actively soliciting suggestions for what plays to read in the coming weeks and months. If there’s a play you’d like us to discuss – especially if it’s less well known, or if there’s a production of it coming to Dublin soon, let us know in the comments below.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Electrafied

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For Christmas, one year in college, I received the Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. Inevitably, I spent a few months infatuated with Plath’s maudlin hyperlyricism. Few writers can make self absorption as compelling; Kerouac maybe, JT LeRoy (were he not fictional). There’s something hypnotic about Plath’s verse, drawn from a well of caustic freudian melodrama, expertly decanted through surrealist imagery. Anyway, this is just a little love poem to Sylvia, written by a smitten boy in his twenties, falling for her verse. Recently published in the latest issue of Saul Bowman’s ever more nominally diverse zine ‘This is Not Where I Belong’.

Electrafied

Sylvia,
My guess, your dress, of words
has been deflowered
As leonine, base,
As of a caul of death
That icy slick, your scald, has shed
and glitter split
a wax chrysalis

Sylvia,
What is a boy to do,
to impress you
to vain a chalk scratch
in the hoof print of your metre
Quirk a smile, from that
flatland greyscale snap of you
American, at twenty two
and possessed

Sylvia,
let us abide
in the bower of crafted elm
like wickedness
Crowd to the quick and conch
the tug of undertow
your terracotta emblem,
pity deep the mournful flow
trawling last words

Sylvia,
the ruddy microns of the air
are hefting Hughes and you
in this splendid friction of April
crackling diaphanous specters
rising ever to the heat
vague as notes
red as balloons
unbound Ariels

The Cheap and Easy Guide to making and releasing a Podcast, 2014 edition

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Podcasts are internet radio shows. Anyone with a computer can make one and publish it to a potentially enormous audience, for less than 100 dollars / euros a year.

After a decade releasing podcasts, here’s the simplest, cheapest and most flexible way I’ve found to distribute one. It’s not free but it’s inexpensive. Podcasting can certainly be done for free, but you’ll pay in time and effort later on, especially if your show takes off.

The beauty of this method is that you can actually host multiple podcasts and an essentially unlimited audience from the same website (without any additional cost). You don’t need to worry about bandwidth or additional fees. This is my current workflow, and once it’s all set up, it only takes about five minutes to put out a new podcast episode.

Note: The following guide assumes you’re using a Mac. It’s just as easy on Windows / Linux, but the software for recording, tagging etc is different. If you’re using windows, just use the substitute software MP3 Tag for Tagr, and CDEX for MAX.

The Guide

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1) Record and edit your first episode

You can do this directly through your laptop in Garageband (free), or on Reaper (reasonable), or Adobe Audition / Logic (expensive). Or you can use an external recorder, or even in a pinch a smartphone. For more details about a decent recording setup see here. Export your final show as a WAV.

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2) Convert your episode to MP3

I’d suggest using the free OSX conversion programme MAX. It’ll make smaller higher quality MP3’s than say Audition, Garageband or Reaper. In MAX, go to preferences -> formats -> MP3/ and set encoder quality to portable.
Now click on File -> Convert files and find your episode. Encode your WAV file to MP3.

3) Create a graphic for the podcast.

There are any number of ways to design a logo. Probably the simplest is to use a logo design app like Logo Design Studio Lite (3 dollars on the OSX app store). You’ll need a 1400 * 1400 pixel JPG graphic to use for itunes etc. You can upscale one from a smaller resolution, provided it’s the right aspect ratio (i.e.: provided it’s square). You can do this with Preview in OSX. Save a smaller version for your website and episode art (say 500 * 500 pixels).

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4) Tag your MP3

I’d suggest using the OSX tagging programme TAGR. It’s 10 euro from the iTunes app store. You can drag your episode art into the box on the bottom left of TAGR (marked ‘artwork’, see image above). This will be the art that appears on smartphones and MP3 players when listeners play the programme. Enter the name of the episode and programme and all other relevant details. Save the file.

5) Set up an account at wordpress.com

Lots of people will suggest buying your own webspace and installing wordpress from wordpress.org, or some other blog software. You can do this, but I’d recommend against it unless you’re a professional web developer. WordPress.org is easy to install, but difficult to keep secure from hackers, and time consuming to maintain. WordPress.com is cheaper and more than good enough for podcast hosting.

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6) Purchase a domain name & space upgrade

Go to the wordpress store – your link will be something like https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/wp-admin/paid-upgrades.php

It’s 15 euro for registration and mapping.

It’s 40 euro for a 25 gig upgrade, enough for well over three hundred, two hour long podcasts.

7) Make your first WordPress post

Make your first post with an audio file attached. To do this, upload the audio file in wordpress’s media uploader, and then paste it into the body of the post.

Don’t forget to name your post. E.g.: ‘Great Podcast – Episode 1 – The Beginning’. Now create a tag in WordPress for your podcast, which you can add in the Tags box, on the bottom right. This tag can be anything, usually the name of your programme: But make sure it’s all one word.

Now when you go to https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/tag/YOURTAG – you’ll see all the episodes of the podcast.

Copy the link to the tag RSS feed, which should be – https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/tag/YOURTAG/feed

9) Make a Feedburner Feed

Go to Feedburner.com and ‘burn’ a new feed, using the RSS feed you copied from your wordpress tag above. Give the new feed the name of your podcast and go through all the set up on the feedburner site. The resulting feedburner feed is the feed you’ll submit to itunes etc.

14) Create a graphic for your podcast

You’ll need a 1400 * 1400 pixel graphic to use for iTunes, which you again upload directly to WordPress, and link via your feedburner settings. If you don’t have one big enough, just expand an existing image, no ones looking at it in that definition on itunes away. Check the feed is working by viewing it on feedburner.

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15) Submit your podcast feed to iTunes

You can do this here. You’ll need iTunes installed for this to work, and you’ll need at least one episode already in the feed to have it approved. Approval usually takes a couple of days to a week. Make sure not to include profanity in the podcast name or description as this will get your feed rejected. If your show is explicit, tag it as explicit at this stage (and in Feedburner).

16) Making Additional Episodes

Be sure to include the relevant tag every time you make a new post. Each new post, correctly tagged and with an audio file attached, will become a podcast episode. The name of the post will be the name of the episode in iTunes and in the podcast RSS feed on Feedburner.

17) Publicise

Submit your Feedburner RSS feed to Stitcher and any other third party podcast lists you’d like. Stick your show up on Facebook etc.

Reading Plays – Episode 5 – The Misanthrope

misanthrope

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Download: Reading Plays – Episode 5 – The Misanthrope

The Misanthrope (or the ‘The Cantankerous Lover’) by Moliere, is a comedy first performed at the Theatre du Palais-Royal in 1666. Despite its age the play deals with modern concerns, like the nature of friendship and the choice to embrace cynicism over solipsism. Although absent the careful plotting, dynamic staging or linguistic experimentalism of modern theatre, Moliere’s wit remains alive and entertaining. The influence of his barbed dialogue and high society brinkmanship can be seen in writers from as Oscar Wilde to Whit Stillman.

In life Moliere (born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) was a controversial figure. Arguably one of the first literary celebrities, he was accused of numerous villainies, including having illegitimately fathered his much younger wife.

He once wrote ‘Doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths’, and it is this ambiguity that lies at the heart of The Misanthrope. Moliere writes ‘one cannot look into the heart’. Thus we vacillate between paranoia and pronoia, never certain in this life of the nobility of our actions, or whether moral pragmatism is ultimately more valid than holding a steady course. Is it true, as the cynically flirtatious Celimene says, ‘It is easy… to blame or praise everything and everyone may be right, according to their age and taste’. Or is there a moral centre to life, we may avoid or obey, according to our character.

We read the Henri Van Laun public domain translation of the play from the university of Adelaide.

Next weeks play

Arcadia [PDF] by Tom Stoppard. We’re actively soliciting suggestions for what plays to read in the coming weeks and months. If there’s a play you’d like us to discuss – especially if it’s less well known, or if there’s a production of it coming to Dublin soon, let us know in the comments below.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Concrete Soup – featuring Katsura Yamauchi

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Hey folks, ¡NO! the psychedelic rock outfit featured in Episode 4 of Mad Scientists of Music, are running another of their monthly improvised music events in Twisted Pepper. This time they’re playing with avant garde Japanese saxophonist Katsura Yamuchi. If you fancy something chilled out and unconventional head down on the afternoon of October 18th. It’s a mere five euro.

Here’s the blurb…

From the black deeps of the Twisted Pepper Basement, the 3rd Saturday afternoon of every month, Concrete Soup has been bringing together international, national and local avant-garde musicians of all colours and stripes for nigh on a year now. Hosted by new psychedelic improvisers ¡NO!, Concrete Soup features a monthly guest and fuels itself on wailing walls of guitars, space jazz bass, brain bending keys, stair collapse drums, nuclear winter clarinet, high wire sax and generally mutant noise. Oh, and it’s often washed down with heavily psychedelic visuals. If you have a penchant for a mash up of the styles of Can, Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart, Sun Ra, 70s Miles or early Sonic Youth, this will fix you nicely. October’s Concrete Soup will feature internationally acclaimed Japanese minimalist saxophonist Katsura Yamauchi. As per the usual form, Katsura will play a solo set as well as a collaborative set with hosts ¡NO!

Concrete Soup New Psych Music Afternoons
The Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1

18 October 2014 – featuring Katsura Yamauchi
4:30pm –7:30pm
Admission: 5 euro