Picasso at the Lapin Agile – Episode 11 – Reading Plays

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His autobiography boasts that Steve Martin began working at age ten in the newly opened Disneyland, graduating to study poetry and philosophy and spend 18 years performing as “America’s best loved stand up comedian”. Martin has in addition managed a career an accomplished banjo musician and movie star. He writes “I was not naturally talented… though working against that made me inventive”. The open question is whether inventiveness is enough to moderate a lack of dramaturgic ability.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile recounts an imagined meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, while both are in their early twenties, yet to make their mark on the century. The play is a sweetly antique ribald sex comedy set in a real Montmartre cabaret immortalised in Picasso’s painting ‘At the Lapin Agile’. It was first staged at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 1993, and won the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off Broadway Play.

Download: Episode 11 – Picasso at the Lapin Agile

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: Some Girls by Neil LaBute.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

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Disco Pigs – Episode 10 – Reading Plays

Disco Pigs

Arriving at the end of the nineteen nineties, at exactly the time Martin McDonagh was exploding the Irish national theatre with the first of his Leenane trilogy, Disco Pigs articulated a radical new vision of Irishness. An Irishness deracinated of nationalism, appalled by republicanism, raised on television and clubland. A dissolute Irishness – frozen in the decaying embrace of the still powerful church. Our soi-disant twin protagonists Pig and Runt are, like the nation, awakening just before the dawn of the 21st century: Becoming self aware in a final desperate defence against perpetual inferiority. The plays ostensibly simple dialogue takes us deep into an expressionist teenage universe, where sex, violence and imagination dissolve the surface of a mundane world.

First staged in 1996 at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, Disco Pigs moved on to the Dublin and Edinburgh festivals. The first production starred Killian Murphy and Eileen Walsh. Eileen would go on to star in the Magdalene Sisters and win best actress award at the Tribeca Film festival for her performance in the 2008 film Eden. Although she was to replaced in the role of Runt for Kirsten Sheriden’s film version, by Elaine Cassidy.

Download: Episode 10 – Disco Pigs

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: Picasso at the Lapin Agile by Steve Martin.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

The Bald Soprano – Episode 9 – Reading Plays

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Quantum Physics, synchronicity, English mustachios, it has to be Eugene Ionesco’s ‘The Bald Soprano’ (La Cantatrice Chauve). This is a play for which context is essential: Beckett’s growing reputation in France at the beginning of the 1950’s. The efforts of dramatists who became known as the ‘theatre of the absurd’ to acknowledge the horrors of fascism. The birth of post-modernism with it’s portrayal of the fragmentary nature of subjective reality. And Ionesco’s own inspiration – bizarrely banal English language learning tapes. In attempting to recreate the imaginative truth of these unheimlich lessons, Ionesco engaged with some of the most complex intellectual problems of his time.

The play begins as a parody of urbane English parlour comedies, spearing every convention from obtuse bon-mots to farcical misunderstandings, from trite social commentary to ironic contradictions. Out of this meta-humour, brilliantly trivialising the trivial, develops a slow horror, as identities dissolve, time disappears, life and death become confused and disorder reins.

The Bald Soprano was Ionesco’s first play, originally written in his native Romanian, before being rewritten in French. Since it’s first performance on May 11th 1950, the play has become one of the most performed works in France. We read the 1964 translation by Donal M. Allan.

Download: Episode 9 – The Bald Soprano

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: Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Doubt (Part 2) – Episode 8 – Reading Plays

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We conclude our discussion of JP Shanley’s classic play, doubt.

Download: Episode 8 – Doubt (Part 2)

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: ‘The Bald Soprano‘ or La Cantatrice Chauve by Eugène Ionesco.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

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

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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.

Download: Interview – Cast of ‘The Ethics Committee’

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Doubt (Part 1) – Episode 7 – Reading Plays

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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.

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

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.

Arcadia – Episode 6 – Reading Plays

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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.

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.

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.