I've performed Ailliliú Fionnuala, about the Shell Corrib gas project, more than sixty times in all four provinces of Ireland since its premiere in Theatre Upstairs, Eden Quay, Dublin last November, and now I'll bring it to an international audience in Edinburgh. There have been feature pieces on it in the Irish Independent, Hot Press, RTE Radio's Arena, Galway Bay FM and Ocean FM. It was in the Pavilion Dún Laoghaire with a screening of The Pipe 6th June, and will also be in Belmullet Arts Centre, Linenhall Castlebar and Riverbank Newbridge in the coming weeks.
In Edinburgh I'll be performing it in alternating rep in the Hill Street Solo Theatre, at the invitation of Universal Arts and co-produced by Morag Neil, with Skeffy, a new show I'm developing based on the man close friend James Joyce dubbed "Hairy Jaysus"; feminist, atheist and militant pacifist, executed in Dublin, Easter Week 1916 - Francis Sheehy-Skeffington.
Previous solo shows of mine include Bat The Father Rabbit The Son (published by Methuen), which had a sellout run in Edinburgh in 1990 and also played New York, Chicago, London, Australia and New Zealand; Catalpa (published New Island/Nick Hern Books), Edinburgh Fringe First 1996, Best Event Melbourne 1997, and toured to New York, Chicago, London, Paris, Geneva, Finland, Belgrade and most recently Harare and Lusaka; and Joyced! (published by Stinging Fly in collection Freshly Brewed) performed by my daughter Katie O'Kelly, nominated for Edinburgh Best Solo Performer by The Stage UK last year, and performed more than 100 times in the past two years by Katie.
I'm bringing Fionnuala to Edinburgh because its chosen form, bog magic realism, is suited to international touring, and the Shell Corrib gas project needs international attention. There were reasons why Latin American writers developed magic realism as a literary code, and there are reasons why bog magic realism is a suitable vessel for this theatre piece.
I want to bring Skeffy to Edinburgh because the Sheehy-Skeffington vision is needed urgently in today's world. We should live in a society of which we're citizens, not in an economy of which we're producing and consuming units, which we're lulled into accepting as the inevitable norm. It's arguable that a war is being daily waged against the poor of the planet, and against the concept of active democratic citizenship. Sheehy-Skeffington erected a banner outside the flat he lived in with his wife and fellow-activist Hanna. It said "Damn Your War", aimed at the major-general who lived nearby. He was jailed for making FORTY anti-recruitment speeches. He went on hunger-and-thirst strike and was released. His and Hanna's spirit of challenge to glib acceptance of tyranny is needed now, and I hope Brace (Fionnuala and Skeffy) in Edinburgh will make some contribution to that end.
Note: The money raised through this Fundit scheme will pay for Fringe and venue registration fees, transport, accomodation and publicity costs for the four-week Edinburgh run.
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