Anita Byrne on The Only Jealousy of Emer

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The Only Jealousy of Emer at 14 Henrietta Street.

When I arrived at the location of the play, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I was on the earliest Georgian streets of Dublin, Henrietta street, where many of the houses had fallen into disrepair during the 19th and 20th centuries when they began their lives as tenement buildings. The houses have been the subject of restoration efforts in recent years and one of them were the location for this play, The Only Jealousy of Emer starring Yemi Adenuga, Deji Adenuga, Oluwayomi Ogunyemi, Esosa Ighodaro and Penelope Anyaji-Aniuzu. Who knew that such unassuming, barren houses could hold such an unforgettable event?
We were guided into the first room of the house where there were a few chairs lined out but no performers to be seen. The atmosphere was extremely sombre and slightly haunting, given the long history of the Georgian houses on Henrietta street, I am convinced they’re haunted. This haunting feeling was further reiterated as the play began with slow humming coming from down the hall which slowly approached closer and closer to the room in which we were sitting. I remember preparing myself for something jumping out at me, the anticipation was really starting to become too much and I began feeling very nervous. The beautiful singing voices of the performers soon quenched this nervous feeling as they walked in in a procession and presented themselves to the audience.
The play which went on for approximately 25 minutes, Cuchulainn has killed his son and in grief, attempts to fight the sea. Half drowned; he lies in a state between life and death with his wife and mistress watching over him. Strange events occur as Cuchulainn has in fact been replaced by a changeling and they try tirelessly to get him back. This play is highly interactive with the audience as you follow the performers from room to room for the duration of the play. In some instances they even stand among the crowd, giving the crowd a feeling of inclusion, the events of the play being something shared by both the performers and the audience.
This play is a production by the City Arts Office in association with Yemi and Deji Adenuga for Nigerian Carnival Ireland, the production is designed by Robert Ballagh, with costumes by Marie Tierney and choreography by Liz Roche. The play is already an stunning piece of theatre, but there is an amazing sense of multiculturalism at play with the contribution of Nigerian Carnival Ireland. It puts an interesting spin on the play as it is combining both Nigerian culture and Irish culture to create a unique masterpiece that I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in culture and theatre to go and see.

By Anita Byrne

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Sara Baume at the LAB – by Anite Byrne

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Sara Baume at The LAB Gallery

We had the pleasure of having Sara Baume with us in the LAB Gallery on the 18th of May. Unfortunately Brian Dillon, a lecturer at the Royal College of Art, was unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances. Baume flew solo in conversation with writer and art critic Nathan Hugh O’ Donnell in what was an interesting and inspirational evening, highlighting how a visual art background enabled Baume to create her critically acclaimed debut novel Spill Simmer Falter Wither. Sara Baume studied fine art at IADT, completed an internship at the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Trinity
College, where she also completed a Creative Writers Masters. Influenced by both visual art and writers, Baume began writing the book which would catapult her writing career in to existence. Spill Simmer Falter Wither is on sale in both Ireland, the UK and overseas in the United States.
The evening began with Sara reading two extracts from her novel, a story of rural isolation and the relationship between man and dog as told through the eyes of the narrator, an old man. When the question arose as to why Baume chose to write the book in the tricky second person she answered that “it didn’t seem authentic in any other voice”. Many authors chose not to write in second person due to how exceedingly difficult it is but the fact Baume had the idea and ran with it, made it that much more admirable. Typical of her visual arts background, she shows complete attention to detail and visual scrutiny which places you right in the head of the old man and his rescue dog as he goes about his daily activities.

In what Joseph O’ Connor describes as “utterly wonderful” and “the most impressive novel” that he’s read in years, Baume’s protagonist adopts a one eyed rescue dog who was consigned to the local pound after being attacked by a badger. Without giving too much away, old Ray learns a lot from his canine counterpart as he observes his movements and the motives behind them. Instead of him attempting to give human attributes to the dog, he tries to apply the attributes of his dog to his own life, attempting to make the most of his days such as the dog makes the most of sniffing each little blade of grass.

After discussing the book, Nathan Hugh O’ Donnell and Sara Baume had a rather interesting conversation about art criticism. Both came from similar backgrounds, O’ Donnell began with publishing, then turned to art criticism and Baume went the opposite way, from art criticism to publishing. Sara Baume discussed something her past tutor from IADT said to her, he said that everything you put in to your sculpture must have a reason for being there, she applied this to her writing. If one piece of it does not work, nothing works. Baume and O´Donnell agreed that art
criticisms are truly successful and composed from something that you know honestly, that all the high brow notions that come with art are not truly successful if you do not understand what you are looking at. At the moment, writing is the priority for Sara Baume, she intends to return to sculpture sometime in the future; as she beautifully put it “art is a muscle that you need to keep stretching.” Baume has an interest in conceptual art and folk art.

Unfortunately for me I had not read the text beforehand but I can safely say that I near sprinted up the stairs to purchase a copy after the event. I am only a quarter through the novel but I feel it in my toes that this is a book I will, without a doubt, read numerous more times. It is an honest escape, there is nothing insanely beautiful about where the protagonist lives, it is just a normal rural town but the way Baume writes it, it feels like you are travelling to a new place in your head. Every morsel is described and illustrated in the minds eye.

To end the event, it was open to the floor for Q&A where she was asked about her love for animals, her inspirations when she was experiencing a hard time when writing and the process of publishing. What really inspired me about Baume is that her story is real, it didn’t all just happen overnight, she experienced successes and failure and furthermore, she created her own opportunities through hard work. She faced the struggles that any art graduate faced; the difficulty to find the finance to create works but Baume persevered and kept chipping away with what she was doing and in the end it all paid off. She is an inspiration for any aspiring writer, including myself. I left the event feeling refreshed, that hard work will pay off and what is meant for you will not pass you by.

Currently, Sara Baume is working on her second book. She did not want to reveal too much about it, only the fact that it is going to be something more autobiographical rather than fictional.

By Anita Byrne

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