Monday, 27 August 2012

Oedipus the King at the Lyric Theatre

Two weeks ago, I went to see Oedipus at the Lyric Theatre. As noted in a previous post, the show was produced by 17-19 year olds working with the Lyric team.  As we went into the studio, which looked amazing set up in traverse style, I noted the modern sofas which made my heart sink.

But I shouldn't have worried, these kids pulled it off.  The actors were all in formal suits, at first looking like they were in the Apprentice, but when Oedipus arrives complete with secret service guards, his own sharp suit and long speech, it's clear that this Oedipus has been based on the US President. The style works surprisingly well.

There were some brilliant performances throughout the play, particularly by Creon, the Messenger and Oedipus, but the actors were all good. The chorus sometimes on stage, sometimes on screen were strong. I particularly liked how the people heard the news of Oedipus' sins on a TV screen, just as the world heard the news of Bill Clinton's incident with Monica Lewinsky.  The lighting design really complemented the projection concept, the lights muted in shades of black and white until the news of Jocasta's death when slashes of red appeared on the screen. This reminded me of black, white and red film posters such as Sin City or the Godfather or TV advertising for True Blood.  This dramatic design only accented the tragedy of the awful events and underlined Oedipus' fate in blood for all to see.

It was great to see a sold out audience filled with friends and family of the young cast. I love that all these people have been introduced to Greek mythology in such an accessible way.  I love that a play written  2,500 years ago can have such resonance now. I was not the only person in the audience holding back tears. The childrens' pain at losing their father ensures that the tragedy of Oedipus is felt by all. If you don't know Sophocles' story of Oedipus the King you can download it here

Director Philip Crawford is a man of many talents, and I hope the Lyric realise how lucky they are to have him.  Clearly an amazing Director drawing the best out in young actors, he also brought the RSC Open Stages project to NI, allowing amateur companies the opportunity to compete to perform in Stratford.  I know first-hand what an amazing teacher he is, as he taught me GCSE Biology in school quite a few years ago, and he alone is the reason I kept it on at A level.  He also directed one of Northern Ireland's 5 star shows just finished at the Edinburgh Fringe, Happenstance's the Boat Factory starting Dan Gordon and Michael Condron.

I'd love to see a performance of Sophocles' Elektra, Aristophanes' Lysistrata or Aeschylus' The Persians in the Lyric. (Hint Hint)  


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Northern Ireland Stats on Suicide

Suicides in Northern Ireland - did you know?
  • Northern Ireland has a population of approximately 1.7 million
  • In 2011, 289 deaths were registered as suicides (source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency). 
  • During the period 1999 to 2009, a total of 2,258 deaths were registered as suicide (source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency).
  • The number of male suicides has increased steadily over recent years (during the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s). The female suicide rate has remained relatively constant over the same period.
  • Protect Life: A Shared Vision is the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy & Action Plan (2006 – 2011). Click here  for more information.
  • The number of deaths registered as suicide in 2005 was 213, in 2006 it was 291, in 2007 it was 242, in 2008 it was 282, in 2009 it was 260 and in 2010 it was 313 (source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency). 

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Oedipus the King

I am really looking forward to seeing Oedipus at the Lyric Theatre on Friday night.  It is being produced by a company of young actors aged 17-19, supported by the Lyric's Creative and Technical teams.

I have always found it a particularly desolate tale. Oedipus is a seemingly wise man who can solve the riddle of the Sphinx when no-one else can.  His realisation that he is completely powerless against the passage of destiny is one that is repeated throughout Ancient myth.  

He never stands a chance.  Once the oracle has given its prophecy, there's no way out.

The tale teases us with hope though. We see Oedipus saved by a servant after being abandoned with his legs pinned together, we see him grow up in the court of a King, we see him beat the Sphinx, marry a Queen and have children.  But when disaster strikes in Greek myth and destiny catches up with you, you can be sure your fate will be extreme. 
And so it is for Oedipus.

I'm looking forward to seeing this translation of Sophocles' classic given a modern twist.  I do think it rather funny that the person directing the piece is my old Biology teacher, the classics consultant is my old University tutor and my husband is the Lighting Designer.  

I'm not sure what the Oracle would read in to all these coincidences but it certainly feels like I am destined to attend...


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Teenagers scare the living shit out of me

This is a short post about how difficult it is to be a good mum, how difficult it is to get the balance right, how difficult it is to watch your kids make mistakes. I think sometimes I do get it right but sometimes I get it very very wrong. The problem is you don't know until afterwards whether your teen will throw her arms around you in thankfulness or pack her suitcase to leave. 

This has happened twice. Once she made it to the hall. Once she stood outside on the doorstep.  Next time it will be the end of the street. The time after that, a friends house. The time I worry about is when she decides to move in with a much older boyfriend, stops at a pub or trusts the wrong friend. I worry about these times.

I hope that I have given her the tools to recognise a bad situation, to know how to get out of it and how to break someones nose... I want her to experience life, to think for herself, to try things and decide for or against them and to learn from her own mistakes.

But to allow this to happen I would need to let her out of the basement...


Tonight we went to see TheatreofplucK's D.R.A.G. at the Courtyard Theatre in Ballyearl.

I wasn't really sure what to expect as I had missed the nudity and strong language warnings on the flyer.  However I knew that it would be special because Niall Rea and Paul Boyd were involved.

In a lovely touch before the show had even started, the Director spoke to the audience in small groups, telling us a story and asking us for a contribution. Then we were ushered into the main theatre space where we could finish our drinks.  We were then directed behind the curtains and asked to sit around an intimate cube-shaped set.  What followed was a fantastic piece of theatre, not perfect, but thought provoking, well acted and indeed, Gorgeous.

It was easy to see that a lot of work had gone into pulling these stories and experiences together.  The show is built around the experiences of a man growing up and coming out during the Troubles.  We watch his painful metamorphosis as he attempts to find his identity, gradually blossoming into the King of Queens.

At the post show discussion, a question was asked about whether the Director had been purposefully controversial with the show.  Was he aiming to shock people with full frontal nudity, bad language or political imagery on the postcards?  The questioner had a valid point - that when she asked her friends to come to this kind of show, their answer would be 'No, that's not my kind of show'.

But when I think of my own religious straight friends, I could convince them to attend a show with full-frontal male nudity.  I could get the same friends to attend a show about paramilitaries.  I could get them to attend a show with bad language.  But I couldn't get them to attend a show named D.R.A.G.

And this is the sad truth - nudity, paramilitaries and bad language have become such a common everyday thing that these are deemed 'normal'. Everyone has heard bad language, everyone has seen nudity and paramilitaries were the norm for many years here in NI.  But how many people actually know a drag queen?  A transvestite?  Not that many.  The most controversial thing about this show is the man putting on his makeup, his wig, his tutu and finding an identity which is different to the norm.

I found the show thought provoking, humorous and at times uncomfortable. While TheatreofplucK describe themselves as 'Northern Ireland's first publicly funded queer theatre company', and D.R.A.G. is part of the Pride Festival, I don't believe the show is only for the LGBT community.

By the way Niall, if you're reading this, Sean Paul's very tightly folded piece of paper said 'Joyful Memories'.
I'll leave you to interpret exactly what that means!



Monday, 6 August 2012

Avengers Assemble

Today we went to see Avengers Assemble at the Waterfront Hall. Initially meant to be part of a Movie Superheroes weekend, all the other events were cancelled. Of course Dylan and I had already seen the film and loved it, but we were looking forward to seeing it again on an even bigger screen.

There were a lot of geeks in the room, including many who had dressed for the occasion. Dylan was delighted when both the Hulk and Captain America sat directly behind us. 

We were welcomed with a very polite Good Afternoon message.
Then the screen announced 'Now follows a short film about Scarlett Johansson's butt'. The teenage boys in the room were delighted and the Captain America sitting behind us agreed wholeheartedly.

And what a film!  
Avengers Assemble is something special. It's a film that provides numerous opportunities for laughing, not only at the heroes, but also at ourselves. When Agent Coulson produces his vintage trading cards, we laugh because we recognise ourselves. When Stark announces That man over there is playing Galaga. Thought we wouldn’t notice, but we did”, we know that reference is to us, playing solitaire in work, or logging into facebook in school.
When Director Josh Whedon kills off Agent Coulson, every geek sees a mirror image of themselves die. We have the trading cards, we think we'd face up to the enemy, we would certainly blow Loki away with a big gun, and yes, we would probably die trying. However Coulson's (our) death gives our heroes something to avenge and so we don't mind at all.

The Waterfront is a great place to watch a big film. Every comic line was met with much laughter, the end credits produced applause and almost everyone stayed for Thanos' appearance after the credits. Everyone left with a smile on their face and Dylan practised his Avengers moves on the Waterfront's walls.


Jeremy Renner however has without doubt, the best butt in the film.
Scarlett Johansson, you don't get a look in.


Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Golden day

Today our plans were cancelled and we found ourselves with nothing to do. We decided to go into town to watch the Olympics on the Big Screen at Belfast City Hall. There were a lot of people around what with the Pride Parade, the Féile stage, the Cow Parade and the sunny weather. We cheered on Paddy Barnes who won his fight to gain a place in the final eight. We watched the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure be interviewed on the green. Dylan wondered if she worked in the same place as the Minister of Magic in Harry Potter?

We watched rowing, and athletics, show jumping and rowing feeling as much a part of the Olympics as people who had tickets. My son ate ice cream as we watched people mill around. With a rock band cursing and belting out songs from the Féile stage and the Rainbow flag flying teens who had been there supporting Pride, it was the perfect place for people watching. My son commented that 'the cool dudes were out today' and indeed they were.

On the way home, we picked up pizza for tea, and talked about the Olympics. We hoped Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah would win. We looked up the times for Paddy Barnes next fight. My son wondered if he was competing in the Olympics, would he be Irish or British? Makes a change from discussing how many shots it takes to kill a zombie or if Batman would indeed beat Superman in a dual. I love days when you have nothing to do, but just be. Oh and we met this super cayman on the Lisburn Road. We've named him Snapposaurus.


Friday, 3 August 2012

A little bit about me

Hello :-)

In order to practice my blogging skills for work, I've decided to set up both a Blogger and a Wordpress blog.  My previous McGarvey Genealogy blog is now being migrated to my new Wordpress blog Northern Irish Ancestry which allows me to talk about more than just McGarvey's!  I hope to build the Wordpress site into a complete family tree for both my family and my husband's family.  With over 1000 members in our combined trees, this may take a while to complete.

I have also decided to keep this as a small personal blog which will allow me to rant from time to time, upload embarrassing photographs, express my opinions and generally drool over Jeremy Renner and Uma Thurman. 

I have pretty varied interests, and I usually find that I have something in common with most people.  
My interests are: Genealogy, Ancient History, Classics, Performing Arts, Science Fiction and Fantasy. 
I have a particular interest in the reception of Greek and Roman Mythology and how this is reflected in our culture.  I also have a passion for the history of my local area, Belfast and for the history of Belfast's people.

Please do leave me a comment.  It would be nice to know if there's anybody out there :-)