Monday, March 28, 2011

300 miles

The following is a selection from a longer piece; 'Gaps in the Mind' by Richard Dawkins. I remember when I first read it I didn't really know the geography of Africa and that's an important part of the illustration. Still, I thought this was great so I've repeated his words here and added pictures for thickos like as what I am.

Molecular evidence suggests that our common ancestor with chimpanzees lived, in Africa, between five and seven million years ago, say half a million generations ago. This is not long by evolutionary standards.

Happenings are sometimes organised at which thousands of people hold hands and form a human chain, say from coast to coast of the United States, in aid of some cause or charity. Let us imagine setting one up along the equator, across the width of our home continent of Africa. It is a special kind of chain, involving parents and children, and we will have to play tricks with time in order to imagine it. You stand on the shore of the Indian Ocean in southern Somalia, facing north, and in your left hand you hold the right hand of your mother. In turn she holds the hand of her mother, your grandmother. Your grandmother holds her mother's hand, and so on. The chain wends its way up the beach, into the arid scrubland and westwards on towards the Kenya border.

How far do we have to go until we reach our common ancestor with the chimpanzees? It is a surprisingly short way. Allowing one yard per person, we arrive at the ancestor we share with chimpanzees in under 300 miles. We have hardly started to cross the continent; we are still not half way to the Great Rift Valley. The ancestor is standing well to the east of Mount Kenya, and holding in her hand an entire chain of her lineal descendants, culminating in you standing on the Somali beach.

The daughter that she is holding in her right hand is the one from whom we are descended. Now the arch-ancestress turns eastward to face the coast, and with her left hand grasps her other daughter, the one from whom the chimpanzees are descended (or son, of course, but let's stick to females for convenience). The two sisters are facing one another, and each holding their mother by the hand. Now the second daughter, the chimpanzee ancestress, holds her daughter's hand, and a new chain is formed, proceeding back towards the coast. First cousin faces first cousin, second cousin faces second cousin, and so on.

By the time the folded-back chain has reached the coast again, it consists of modern chimpanzees. You are face to face with your chimpanzee cousin, and you are joined to her by an unbroken chain of mothers holding hands with daughters. If you walked up the line like an inspecting general -past Homo erectus, Homo habilis, perhaps Australopithecus afarensis -and down again the other side (the intermediates on the chimpanzee side are unnamed because, as it happens, no fossils have been found), you would nowhere find any sharp discontinuity. Daughters would resemble mothers just as much (or as little) as they always do. Mothers would love daughters, and feel affinity with them, just as they always And this hand-in-hand continuum, joining us seamlessly to chimpanzees, is so short that it barely makes it past the hinterland of Africa, the mother continent.

Dawkin's original full thing here.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I'm way too close to this one to comment objectively, but I'll do me best.

'Doubt' by John Patrick Stanley is just a cracking piece of writing whatever way you look at it.
I know there's a pretty good fillum of it, and I've seen it, but I think that it works way better on the stage. The close-ups tell you too much: the necessary distance helps the plays ambiguity and makes it easier for the audience to experience doubt* (*about who is the decent person and who is the monster).

The current Centrespace production is far from slick, but it is imaginatively staged and immensely enjoyable. The show is presented in an almost eccentric version of 'in the round' which reinforces the idea that we simply never get 'the full picture' and, like the play's protagonist(s), we must makeup our minds without anything as satisfying as either evidence or personal certainty.

It's a tragedy that it's only on for two nights.

'Doubt' by John Patrick Stanley, directed by Richie Ryan and presented by the Centrespace players featuring: Jacinta Hastings, Mark P O'Connor, Joanne Ryan and Kate Njoku.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Explosive Grenades

I've complained (who hasn't) about the ubiquity of one-person shows before on this blog, but having seen a good decent sized-cast in the last 4 things in Limerick: (The Rabbithole, The Mai, The Glass Menagerie and Tartuffe) my palette was nicely cleansed for a decent 'one-personer' as I ambled down towards The Locke Bar last Friday to see 'Grenades' in the Loft venue.

The company presenting it was 'Mephisto' and all I knew of them was that they had brought 'The World's Wife' to the Loft a couple of weeks before Spinal Krapp and I'd missed it.
I wasn't happy with the attendance of 'Spinal Krapp'; I wanted it to sell out more nights than it did. I remember the Bot-Dogs response to my frustration was to tell me the play was doing better than 'The World's Wife' had done.

After Friday night I have begun to appreciate what an absolute tragedy this must have been. If the Bot-Dogs weren't just being kind to me, and Mephisto's 'The Worlds Wife' was even half the show that 'Grenades' is, then I can actually think of nothing worse. It causes me pain and it causes me shame. But I'll move on.

What has me so very enthusiastic about 'Grenades' was the sheer quality and control in the performance of Emma O'Grady. It was a virtuoso piece of acting that came across as a work of courage and... yes I'll say it, as work of perfection. The sound was great, I found the stage set okay but not particularly relevant and the technical effects could have been a tad slicker but really, it mattered not a jot, because the performer never relied on any of these things for a nanosecond.

She was the play, and she knew she was and so did we and it was great and you really should've been there you fool.

The script won the P.J.O'Connor award for Radio drama and it transports effortlessly to the stage; combining nostalgia, comedy, music, drama and action in a very satisfying blend that never lets go it's grip on the audience.

Because I enjoyed it so much, I've been thinking about it quite a bit and I do have a couple of micro-niggles with the script, as I remember it. I can't describe this without ruining the show for anyone who hasn't seen it, so I'll put it in white (so's you have to 'select' it to read it). -{click'n'drag}
Right, the 'badges' that her brother wore; the bad guy is wearing a badge that she identifies with his collection and this identifies him as what? A corpse robber? Her brothers' murderer? It's a pivotal point, so how come it isn't more clear? How does someone remove a badge from somebody blown into the water from a grenade explosion anyway? Also, how come her Ma got 10 years for shooting someone who had doused her in petrol and threatened to set her on fire? Clear case of self-defence surely?

The show is on in Derry in March(19) and Nenagh in April(23).

If you live in either place and you miss it, I have no sympathy for you.

'Grenades' by Tara Mckevitt. Starring Emma O'Grady. Production Director Caroline Lynch.

Produced by Mephisto Galway.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rumours in Kilmallock

I went to Mephistos' 'Grenades' in the loft on Friday and then had a fabbo time in Mary Jo Hoganses. The show was more than worth writing about and I am on it, in the meantime, we have a guest here on 'stuffinthangs': Karen of 'Teaspach' who went to see Rumours in Kilmallock.

Rumours by Neil Simon was on in Friarsgate Theatre, Kilmallock last weekend. I went to their final performance night and I've been trying to remember when I've laughed so much during a play,(from start to finish) and I don't think I ever have.

Seriously, this play had the entire audience in fits of laughter throughout; throughout!
Of course, by the time I got to see it they were on their 8th performance and the pace was on fire. Neil Simon, ( probably best known for 'The Odd Couple'), is obviously gifted at creating a diverse bunch of characters and putting them all together in the one room. ...plotwise; a New York city Mayor and his wife have invited their closest friends to a dinner party in their home to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary - when the guests start to arrive all is not what it seems and a massive cover up begins ...but I don't care about the specifics - this play and its actors, made me laugh for 2 hours solid and right now, we really need to laugh. It was, quite simply, brilliant!"

Karen Fitzgibbon,


Rumours was an in-house production for Friarsgate Theatre directed by Robert Lee and featuring Orla Ahern, Eleanor Bennett, John Condon, Mandy Donworth, Max Hennessey, Bernie Leahy, Aine Little, Jim Lynch and Ger Murphy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ratified Rhyming (a true story)

I have lamb on the pan,
and a rat out my back,
Questions rumble,
in my mind.

Is this one simple meal,
causing torment unreal,
to that rat?
are my actions,

Is his rat-mind in hell?
Does that lamb-burger smell
make him want,
to break down,
my back door?

Does he watch from his lair,
With an envious stare,
In his mind,
does he let,
a Rat-Roar?

Does the smell of the meat
make his rat-stomach leap?
(Rodents eat,
very often,
I've read).

I should purchase a trap:
kill that rat with a snap,
Or perhaps,
I should feed him,

No! the feeding of rats,
is proscribed in these parts,
"Rats are vermin,
Not creatures,
for pettin'"

This rat-tails' at an end,
We can never be friends.

Is it callous,
that I'm,
after gettin'?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Okay, the pictures don't match the post.

On our part of The Donaghs, the family with the phone was a family from Monaghan with a volkswagon beetle that they covered in posters at election time and drove up and down the street extolling the virtues of Fianna Fail*(*I think they have officially lost the 'fada' at this stage).

One year, this family had t-shirts, I reckoned they looked pretty cool and I asked me Ma if I could have one, her reply astonished me because we were good friends with this particular family:

"That 'Charlie Haughey' is nothin' but a gangster, and Fianna Fail are only gangsters, and they don't give a flyin continental about real people".

Ahead of her time; Hazel, in plentymany ways.

I asked her how come she was friends with this woman if she felt that way, and Ma said: "I don't mind her notions".

Now, I have notions: I have plentymany notions and one of my notions is about the purity and excellence of the 'person-created' art form, done for me, in the same room and at the same time as the person making it, vs the (probably higher quality) well-crafted thing with no soul or connection designed for mass consumption and maximum profit.

That's me notion, or that's one of me notions, but what I spose this post is about is me askin' you to take a leaf out of Hazel's book and 'don't mind my notions'.

The video clip at the very end of this piece is a bit of vulgar low-down huxtermanship. It is designed to increase the bums-on-seatage, and, for my fellow actores and the people bank-rolling this thing from the outset, I do get that perhaps marketing is the only way to pack out that first night,( or that one night in that town that never heard of you).

The well-marketed show is, to me, a much-despised bastard-relative of the show that 'does well because people recommend it to their friends' but, (in terms of any tangible financial reward for all the work you've put in,) the well-marketed show, what is crap, will beat the very good show, that nobody comes to, every time.

So here I am a huxtering. The same people who introduced me to Momus also introduced me to a much-treasured VHS videotape of Marlon Brando in 1965. On the tape he carries out a series of interviews about his latest film 'Moritauri'. I got the opinion, from watching it, that it was a low point of his career because he was so so SO unwilling to say anything good about it.

As it turns out: it's not a half-bad flick, highly entertaining and very different from the WWII fillums of the time, so why was Brando so unwilling to sell it?

Now I get it, Marlon Brando,(in common with myself and the yer wan on the Donagh's with the phone), had 'notions'. Unlike meself or herself he was charming with it. The interweb is here to bring you this treasure right now, here, free, gratis and for nothing. If you ever wondered what all the fuss is about that fat dude in 'The Godfather' then now is your chance to find out.

part one

part two

part three

And when you're done with that,- check out the clip *sigh* for our up-coming show.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tartuffe the imposter.

This post contains some swearing and disrespectful biblical references.

I saw this play twenty years ago up in the Big Potatoe and I was absolutely fascinated. Moliere's a god-damned* genius . And, if I can be forgiven another religious reference, it's a hell of a play to perform also. (Boom-Boom!)
A great tragedy then, that this Wednesday night, the Torch Players were to 'cast their pearls before Gaderene swine'; three instances of unpardonable rudeness, (that distracted us during the performance) were:

*(literally 'god-damned' according to the Catholic Church when this play came out; anyone who attended a performance of it was immediately excommunicated)

#1. Extremely noisy sweetie-eater.

#2. Mobile phone web-surfer.

#3. Somebody cutting sheet metal at the back of the theatre.

The sound of this last action has been an interruption I have endured patiently over the last few weeks; during the performance of The Rabbit-Hole, during the performance of The Mai, during the performance of The Glass Menagerie and during the performance of The Blanch but it wasn't until last night that I discovered that these muted 'building sounds' are actually a deliberate attempt to disrupt the show.

One man with a gripe and an angle grinder has made it his mission to interrupt performers and lessen other peoples' enjoyment because {Hearsay begins} during the Belltable renovations, access was cut off to his workshop by scaffolding and trucks.
He believes his business suffered as a result, and is demanding compensation.{Hearsay ends} I don't know anything about his claim but I have to confess I'm absolutely horrified by his methods. It's just so arrogant, so small-minded, so disrespectful and fucking mean.

I hope he doesn't get a penny.

then, it's an old-fashioned, wordy play perhaps not everyone's cup of tea ,but fuck them, cos it's brilliant. The text is a challenge that some rose to better than others but over-all it was a fine peice of work that the Torchies have made for us.

The set and the costumes were spectacular, the comic set-pieces were brilliantly done, with a real sense of fun. The music was great, the style was great, and of course the script is exceptional.

Micheal ODubhgaill was strong and able as the scheming God-botherer of the title, Sheena Murphy shone (Sheena shone?) in the panto-type role of the outspoken maid Dorine and Edel Heaney was hilarious as the merchants' wife Elmire.
But really the cast in their entirety deserve credit for the work they have clearly put into this.

I wasn't happy about the ticket price (€13/€16), but you do get your moneys' worth. It's on until Saturday and I recommend you go.

'Go' I said.