Video: Poet Michael Longley Keynote at Launch of 50th Anniversary of the NI Civil Rights Committee

Last night Poet Michael Longley gave the keynote address at the launch of the 50th Anniversary of the NI Civil Rights Committee at the historic 1st Presbyterian Church, Rosemary St, Belfast. The title of his talk was ‘Songs For Dead Children’, it is a variation of the talk he gave on receiving The PEN Pinter Prize in 2017. Slugger is the media partner for the Anniversary so we were happy to be there to record the occasion. Watch the videos of … Read more

Young Luther , A new play by Philip Orr. This Sunday the 29th Oct – Admission free…

When I was asked by friends in a  church in Bangor if I would compose a play for them about Martin Luther, I knew it would be a challenge. Firstly, how could I handle such a big topic? Love him or loathe him, Luther is one of the most significant figures in church history. The story of Protestant faith is impossible to understand without looking at him. Even a three-hour epic wouldn’t cover his life adequately. Secondly, how should I … Read more

Our cultural leaders have a choice about what they want to be: brokers or gatekeepers…

Globalisation, borders, migration, and the collapse of regimes feature daily in headlines as the world is reshaped politically, socially and culturally. Historians will say it has been ever thus – every few hundred years empires topple, centres of trade move.  Embrace, resent or ignore it, our worldview and ways are challenged by exchange with other views and cultures, and in turn our way of behaving as a society and a nation influences and affects others. Now is the time to … Read more

Accidental Theatre presents Riddel’s Warehouse in a different light…

I’d never heard of Accidental Theatre before, but next week they’re opening what looks like an interesting production in a fascinating venue in Anne Street in Belfast, Riddel’s Warehouse. It’s that rather anonymous industrial building beside Musgrave Police Station. It’s a too-rare example of Belfast waking up to its own built environmental history before it gets smashed to pulp for sake of posterity. As this great youtube video shows, most of our buildings are full of great stories of where … Read more

Happy days were here again for Beckett in Femanagh

Great to see that the  unapologetically highbrow Beckett Festival which has just ended in Fermanagh for this year, has survived the funding famine. This is quite a feat for the celebrations of such a unsentimental and enigmatic author, whose work is so at odds with the normal run of Irish summer fare. Perhaps this is because  almost by definition, it relies so little on Irish stereotypes and mixes  the best of British and cosmopolitan with excellent indigenous talent, like a … Read more

Roisin McDonough: The Arts: Small size, big value

The debate over cuts to arts funding have been in the headlines in recent days, writing for Slugger, the Arts Council’s Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough argues against cutting arts funding Supporting the campaign for ‘No more cuts to the arts’, actor James Nesbitt observed wryly that “without the arts we’re just left with politics, and we don’t want that”. His tongue may have been planted firmly in his cheek, but that may be the path we’re heading down if the … Read more

Xchange Summer School – changing the conversation about … the arts #xss14

It turns out that it doesn’t always rain in Enniskillen! From Thursday to Saturday, Xchange’s inaugural summer school enjoyed balmy weather in and around the Ardhowen theatre as delegates chatted, ate, drank, debated and challenged each other’s views on the arts, the media, liberties and history. Chaired by Denzil McDaniel, the opening session asked whether we could change the conversation about the arts. Actor Adrian Dunbar welcomed the delegates to his own town. The theatre is everybody’s home. It’s not … Read more

After losing its Shakespearean plot Newtownabbey returns to the 21st Century…

So, a good result for the Reduced Shakespeare Company in Newtownabbey. Excellent nationwide publicity right at the start of a tour, and the gig back to boot! Along with the backing of the DUP Deputy Mayor. Anyone who’s ever worked in the arts knows just how jumpy and fickle the local arts administration can get in their dealing with political parties, and the reputation of the DUP’s Biblers is second to none. For all the fulminating over the weekend, it’s still … Read more

Pending Vote: Democracy 101 in the Lyric as part of #BelFest

Over a hundred people filed into the Lyric’s Naughton Studio clutching their digital binary voting handsets: we used our fingers to press the Yes or No buttons. Seated on three sides of the small theatre facing a large screen with a blinking cursor, the audience quickly got used to answering questions as the timer counted down to zero. For a while Roger Bernat’s Pending Vote felt like the true beginnings of the much lauded seldom found new politics in Northern … Read more

A little bit of politics at the Belfast Festival – turning a theatre into a parliament

A few events touching on politics from the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s which runs from Thursday 17 to Sunday 27 October. Pending Vote is the Irish première where the theatre becomes a parliament and the audience have remote controls to vote to decide the future of our community and the evening’s performance. Lyric Theatre – Naughton Studio, 8pm, Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 October. £12. Voting on relevant issues for the Northern Ireland public without avoiding topics such … Read more

Newcastle feels the chill wind that may soon blow Northern Ireland’s way?

Where I live, Newcastle Upon Tyne, there are plans afoot to cull 10 of the 18 libraries. Given that it is the young and elderly who disproportionately depend on them, this is no time to cut such a vital community service. Libraries help create a sense of community; the public use them if it’s for getting books out to read or for job hunting on the computers provided. Ironically Newcastle is a Labour council. It’s leader, Nick Forbes, has proven … Read more

London Letter: Arts face tough year in 2011

It’s hard to make an economic case for the arts at a time when all departments face cuts and shortages. However, many believe that the survival and continued nurturing of the arts needs to be fought for, as thousands of people are employed in the sector in Northern Ireland and it is such a huge part of the social structure. In recent years, it has become more popular for people to attend the theatre (particularly affordable community theatre) and it … Read more