Celebrity MasterChef: No amnesty for Colm O’Gorman after kitchen disaster

My bad. Should have made steak and chips obviously. 😉#celebritymasterchefIRL— Colm O'Gorman (@Colmogorman) March 2, 2017 Felt bad when I heard that over the past few weeks! #celebritymasterchefIRL— Colm O'Gorman (@Colmogorman) March 2, 2017 Sorry to all those who told me they had a bet on me to win! Niamh talks to her food and we shout at our oven timer. Same thing. #celebritymasterchefIRL— Recipe Guru (@WeAreRecipeGuru) March 2, 2017 “Carry it like it’s a new born baby, not a f***ing pizza,” barked Andy McFadden, the Irishman at the helm of Michelin one-star restaurant Pied à Terre in London. “Being a dad is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done,” Colm O’Gorman has said. Former Eurovision winner Niamh Kavanagh has two children, so she’s well qualified to fulfil that request, but professional kitchens seem to make quivering jellyfish out of even the most seasoned performers. The final four in TV3’s Celebrity MasterChef were doing a lunchtime service at the Charlotte Street restaurant in the next stage of their “journey”, as co-judge Daniel Clifford insisted on calling it, and it wasn’t going well, at least for some. “He’s got the hardest section and he’s smashing it.” ADVERTISEMENT Celebrity MasterChef: Samantha Mumba rumbled amid smoke, swearing and singed celeriac Celebrity MasterChef: Tell me why they don’t like Mundy’s – singer exits the stage Celebrity Masterchef: Evelyn Cusack blown off course in dessert storm “I don’t think it’s seasoned enough … I’m quite disappointed actually,” was Clifford’s damning assessment on being served O’Gorman’s fish for his lunch in Pied à Terre. “Apologies, sir,” she squeaked from behind her pigtail plaits in response to yet another admonition from the chef, this time about the state of her plates. Across the restaurant kitchen, Simon Delaney was basking in the heat, and the glory, of nailing his lamb three ways dish. “Inside I’m dancing, baby. Niamh Kavanagh gamely cooked her first lobster an served it with monkfish and smoked potato Once Niamh Kavanagh’s hands eventually stopped shaking, she mastered her cured scallop dish, capitalising once again on her proficiency at origami – who knew that was a skill that would be so much in demand – when turning apple slices into fancy cones. This is mental and I’m loving it.” At the judges’ table, Robin Gill was in agreement. Downfall There was turbot to blame too, as it also contributed to the downfall of the former …

Druid Theatre defends criticism of all-male 2017 programme

Druid has received a lot of criticism on social media for its programme which features four plays all written by men – The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, Crestfall by Mark O’Rowe and King of the Castle by Eugene McCabe. “Because she (Garry Hynes) has been engaged with us, she missed a step in talking about how unbalanced it was.” Ms Bell said every theatre organisation should draw up a gender equality plan. Druid Theatre artistic director Garry Hynes has defended its 2017 all-male programme and said gender equality in the theatre will take time. What matters is our commitment to real and sustainable change and the work we put in to making that change happen.” She said Druid were doing what it could to promote gender equality by commissioning new plays by women and plays written by men which “ address honestly the situation of women in our society and present strong, interesting roles for women.” She concluded: “Making a real difference takes time – quick wins alone are not the answer. Irish playwright Abbie Spallen who last year won one of the world’s richest literary awards, the Windham-Campbell Prize, tweeted: “I find this programming very disheartening especially from someone who was at the forefront of the WTF movement.” Waking The Feminists supporters say ‘one more thing’ Fight for gender equality moves from theatre to music ‘We can’t keep funding productions and not the time for their development’ The New York based playwright Lisa Tierney-Keogh tweeted: “A huge disappointment to see a year’s worth of work to redress gender imbalance in #Irish #theater effectively be ignored. “If they (Druid) had this very clearly planned out they would not be in this kind of shtick.” Shortly after Waking the Feminists was announced in November 2015, Ms Hynes wrote a letter to The Irish Times in which she stated: “We are all at fault here. “What is really heartening for me is that people point it out when there is a problem,” she said. As Lucy Kerbel says in All Change Please: A Practical Guide to Achieving Gender Equality in Theatre: ‘We should give ourselves permission to see change as a string of separate, achievable actions we can pursue, rather than one single Herculean task.’” Waking the Feminists founder Lian Bell said Druid had been “naïve” in not addressing the lack of gender …

Nialler9’s New Irish Music: Shookrah, Sylk, Paddy Mulcahy and more

Cute video too. Dioscó na mBó feat. It’s broodingly effective. The New York-raised Bray musician’s track has a glittering dance-funk brightness to it. ADVERTISEMENT NEW ARTIST OF THE WEEK Sylk Producer Bebhinn Mc Donnell vocalist and Taylor Doyle have hit on a sound that’s murky, electronic and pop on their debut single Am I Alone. Vėtra – Vanua   Chilled summery indie-pop vibes courtesy of Sligo trio Steven Conway, Rory Selby-Smith, and Jack Selby-Smith with a female counterpoint vocal from Lithuanian singer Vėtra. Guess which Wexford Street fast food establishment makes an appearance? The Innocent Bystander – Electrocute Producer Mark Healy started his career in London with The Josephs in 1996 and has since played with the likes of Jerry Fish and the Mudbug Club, Carol Keogh and Elevens. It’s also the title that this Cork six-piece soul outfit gave to their polychromatic new single of jazz, soul and funk, which is as young and fresh as a soul song in 2017 can be. <a data-cke-saved-href=”http://paddymulcahy.bandcamp.com/album/the-words-she-said” href=”http://paddymulcahy.bandcamp.com/album/the-words-she-said”>The Words She Said by paddy mulcahy</a>   SONGS OF THE WEEK Shookrah – Gerascophobia Gerascophobia is a term for a persistent phobia of growing older. VIDEO OF THE WEEK Tomorrows – Ricochet Video by David O’Carroll From the underrated Another Life album of fine indie-rock atmospherics released by the Dublin band last year, the video for Ricochet keeps it simple with Laura Sheeran gallivanting around Dublin town at night. Odu – Years Slinky synth-pop from Sally Ó Dúnlaing’s Odu project, from her latest EP Conversations released last week. ALBUM OF THE WEEK Paddy Mulcahy – The Words She Said Formerly known for his solo piano composition work, the Limerick musician Paddy Mulcahy has explored ambient and instrumental electronic terrain on his new album on 1631 Recordings. Inspired by “the similarities and contrasts” between synthesizers and pianos, The Words She Said will find favour with those who enjoy the beautiful calm of composers like Nils Frahm and Olafaur Arnalds. His second single for his new project features falsetto vocals from Daniel Hoff and results in synth-pop inspired by notable bands of the past like New Order, Everything But the Girl Prefab Sprout and The Blue Nile. “Did you know that it’s a blessing to age,” singer Senita sings and we sagely agree.

‘You took my joy and I want it back’ – coming to terms with multiple miscarriages

I don’t want to do school-runs, or talk to my husband over our morning cup of tea, or make dinners. “This is not the outcome you hoped for, obviously, but now you can move on,” she says. I know the risks but I’m determined. The scan is performed by a different sonographer. I can’t even reach myself. And the sonographer’s words: “Blighted ovum”, words I have heard before. 4pm and still no presents. The smallest of upsets pushes me far under since my latest loss and when I’m in this place, I can’t be with other people. Today is my birthday. That was the day I had my first miscarriage – I bled out my honeymoon baby. I live in a market town and it’s friendly – people say hello as they pass. Scan day. But that annoying little thing called hope insists on flying in and out of my consciousness. ADVERTISEMENT Part of me hopes she will tell us to stop trying, that she will say, baldly, that I am too old. Perhaps a peculiarly Catholic response in a country where contraception was illegal until 1980. She tells us she’s had three miscarriages and “wouldn’t dream of going again” at her age. I retrieve and open it; there is a silver bumble bee on a chain. So we hold off. I feel leaden and want nothing other than to be asleep. I’m trying to relax and build a good internal environment, with nutritious food, light exercise and pre-natal vitamins but, really, I’m stressed by the whole enterprise. She is matter-of-fact about my advanced age, outlining all the pitfalls. And, anyway, I have three kids and a man here that I love beyond reason. ADVERTISEMENT My husband and I are planning a fourth child. I had my seventh pregnancy and fourth miscarriage last year at 45. Secondly, miscarriage is rife over 40. Ah, yes, the tilted uterus that I am so often assured has nothing to do with my multiple miscarriages. Her latest novel is Miss Emily. This essay first appeared in the spring 2017 edition of The Ogham Stone, a journal of literature and arts produced by the MA Students of English and creative writing at the University of Limerick ADVERTISEMENT I think about my thirtieth birthday. I’ll work in a bar in some quiet foreign place – an island? * It’s Mother’s Day today and you’ll be glad to …

Multiple loss and undying hope: coming to terms with miscarriage

The pregnancy is a worry for both us and thinking too far ahead makes me feel I will jinx it. “The womb is waiting to do what it’s meant to do.” Who to believe? Because here’s the thing: I’m not yet ready to let go of the idea that I might give birth one more time. She tells us she’s had three miscarriages and “wouldn’t dream of going again” at her age. ADVERTISEMENT My Ma texts me for my birthday. Traumatising their hearts by leaving them is not any kind of solution, no matter how bad I happen to feel. Translation: I take a home pregnancy test and it’s positive. The smallest of upsets pushes me far under since my latest loss and when I’m in this place, I can’t be with other people. Secondly, miscarriage is rife over 40. I get up and apply lots of make-up to disguise my tear-swollen eyes. The sonographer seems to read our minds about our hopes and pregnancy prospects, due to my age and fertility history. An ultrasound screen without a flickering pulse is a barren, gut-plummeting sight. How this golden egg is supposed to exist, I do not know. I wake up every morning with a sore neck, sore shoulders, sore arms. ADVERTISEMENT My husband and I are planning a fourth child. Part of me hopes she will tell us to stop trying, that she will say, baldly, that I am too old. I dream of babies, endangered ones. What if, once again, there is no foetal heartbeat? Back in place on the bed, I can’t see the screen so I look, instead, at my husband’s face; he is sitting to my left, gripping my hand. I had my seventh pregnancy and fourth miscarriage last year at 45 I think about my thirtieth birthday. My rational self tells me to take care of myself, body and mind. I order a silver and turquoise Kokopelli pendant online – it arrived today, on my birthday. I am having one of my “I’d rather be elsewhere” days. Even my thumbs hurt. I put the granite Sheela, carved for me by a Wicklowman who heard me talk about fertility symbols on the radio, radiating towards my chair. The black, black hole of it. “Happy” is all the text says. That was the day I had my first miscarriage – I bled out my honeymoon baby. We …

Deafening review: Is the condition a ‘gift’, a hindrance or something more complex?

Both gene targeting and cochlear implants can be contentious issues among the deaf community, but controversies are not indulged here. For similar reasons, as some people dismiss the word “disability” and others use it freely, the programme manoeuvres gently between perspectives. It is cheering to meet Seán Herlihy, a teacher at Holy Family School for the Deaf, in north Dublin, who says that being deaf is a gift. The way we regard deafness has changed with advances in society and in technology, the programme recognises, following three families at a time when options, in treatment and in life, are expanding. While attending an IVF clinic in Spain she is given the option of removing the deaf gene, guaranteeing her children hearing. The programme collaborates with him, in slow-motion muted sequences, to present deafness as a kind of serenity, watching him glide noiselessly along busy motorways and through crowded airports. The kids are all right. “It’s a huge part of who I am,” she says. Pleased to meet you. “This is me,” she says. In an early gesture towards augmentation O’Regan introduces herself with her own voice, to say, “This isn’t who I am,” then switches to sign language, as a cheery voiceover translates for her and text appears beside her. There the programme is subtly encouraging, showing a world of fewer impediments and broadening choices, from busy classrooms to tae kwon do tournaments, TV studios to animated family dinners. The programme would prefer to avoid the blare of argument, though. Instead Deafening wishes, laudably, to communicate the texture of experience. Early in Deafening (RTÉ One, Thursday), an elegantly composed documentary about being deaf in Ireland, the RTÉ news and weather presenter Sarah-Jane Moloney O’Regan describes a fascinating dilemma. “If I’m honest,” she says, “I wanted them born hearing.” In the end she and her husband decided not to remove the gene. Deafness is a way of life. On one point, however, everyone agrees: they want their children to live without fear. O’Regan, understandably, wanted the best for her children, but she hesitates to say what is best. They describe the effort of reconciling two customs. Occasionally, when Herlihy’s ebullience and O’Regan’s positivity meet the enthusiasm of their voiceover artists – “Life would be so much easier if everyone was deaf” – the programme begins to feel like a glib advertisement for silence. Composed from intimate snapshots, Garry Keane’s programme is …

It’s Bookworm Christmas! Happy World Book Day

“I love the dramatic entrance to Narnia via the painting in Eustace’s bedroom. Fast Forward focuses on Molly and Beth from Curtin’s Time After Time, the first in a new series about two best friends who can travel through a magic door to the past (as they do in the first instalment) or the future (as they do in this special short story). “I prefer to have a personal element to the time travelling, with the girls engaging with people they know from their own lives,” Curtin agrees, though adding intriguingly: “They may, however, happen upon historical events while doing this though.” The second full-length instalment of the series will appear this autumn, but in the meantime this short story will please readers, presenting an insight into a new girl in the protagonists’ class and reminding them of the importance of friendship and kindness, typical themes in Curtin’s work. It’s just a great initiative by the bookselling community: authors, publishers and booksellers – a lovely way to get kids reading, to introduce new authors and books and encourage children and families to discover – or rediscover! WBD is all about promoting the enjoyment of books and reading.” Carr edited this year’s Irish World Book Day title, Judi Curtin’s Fast Forward. Helen Carr, editor at O’Brien Press, elaborates: “The authors donate their work for free and the publishers and booksellers don’t make any money from them (and may lose a bit!). The O’Brien Press has published a number of WBD titles specifically for the Irish market over the past several years, after approaching the organising body about Irish titles. – their local bookshop World Book Day is financed by contributing publishers, National Book Tokens Ltd, and the participating booksellers (who fund the cost of the book token redemption), along with other literacy organisations. Further information about all World Book Day events and titles can be found at worldbookday.com. Once a year, a special event occurs – Bookworm Christmas! Or as it is better known, World Book Day, this year taking place on Thursday, March 2nd (with events running throughout the month). Other bestselling authors have produced new titles for World Book Day: David Walliams, David Almond and Michael Grant have standalone short stories available for older readers. We like to tie the World Book Day book in with forthcoming titles/new series etc. And Molly and Beth travel to moments that affect …

Gig Guide: the New Music Festival at the NCH, plus the best of what’s on this week

Louis. This show marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Japan. – Seamas O’Reilly FRIDAY Hennessy Lost Friday RHA, Dublin 7-11.30pm, €20 eventbrite.ie This is a fine blend of cutting- edge art, music and spoken word in the elegant surroundings of one of the country’s finest galleries. ADVERTISEMENT Overwhelming, bewildering, and delightful, the most surprising thing about the entire madcap romp is that it’s over within a bristling 50 minutes. Go! MONDAY Claire Carpenter Paintings. Over the years, Timm has produced a fantastic run of tunes which put disco and funk bang into the middle of an infectious house groove. Now that the piece has almost reached that age itself, a new generation stage his Dublin-based story of corruption, crime, brotherhood and moral relativism, told from three interweaving perspectives. Those on the roster include poet John Cummins; live music from Bad Bones and Valerie Francis; DJ sets from Lime and Fancy; and interactive art from Holly Pereira. A good way for Shivers to round a year of parties which have featured the likes of John Daly, Pender Street Steppers, Telephones, Wino Boys, Maurice Fulton and many more. While the judges reflect on their selections in a nearby venue, the live event takes place here. Lost in France opens at Dublin’s IFI today. Eoghan Carrick directs Peter Daly, Stephen Jones and David Fennelly. SATURDAY Striking Sounds Jigsaw, 10 Belvedere Court Dublin 8pm €10 buttonfactory.ie Presented by online radio station, Dublin Digital Radio, make way for an evening of female-centric music featuring members of Barq, Everything Shook, Naoise Roo, and Flecks. An evening for the hip-hop connoisseur awaits. Belfast Exposed Gallery, Until April 15 belfastexposed.org Victor Sloan is best known for his photographic works on places and events in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Gerald Barry wastes no time constructing a vast, great clanking hootenanny in its image. Steady. The hooting mania of the Alice mythos is inherent in the text, but few adaptations succeed in capturing the wickedly subversive absurdity of Lewis Carroll’s classic, which is a distinctly adult melange of poetical allusions, maths problems and linguistic in-jokes. Telephones Tengu Dublin 10.30pm €15/€10/€5 dekmantelfestival.com The best European electronic music festival right now is Dekmantel and the men behind it are lording it in the capital tonight. Mar 7-8 €20 paviliontheatre.ie Conor McPherson was just 24 when he wrote This Lime Tree Bower, his monologue play from 1995. Ronan Guilfoyle’s …

Michael Collins is this month’s Irish Times Book Club author

It’s the runner’s aesthetic, driving you into the deeper recesses of self.” Over the next four weeks, The Irish Times will publish a series of articles exploring Collins’s works, including a major essay by the author exploring the social and economic evolution of the US through the prism of his career in technology and as a writer. Collins will also discuss his epic 550-mile run last summer from Grosse Ile quarantine station in Quebec to Ireland Park Famine Memorial in Toronto to raise funds to commemorate the route Famine refugees took across Canada and the locals who helped them. His other works are The Meat Eaters ( 1992); The Life and Times of a Teaboy (1993); The Feminists Go Swimming (1994); Emerald Underground (1998); The Resurrectionists (2003); Lost Souls (2004); The Secret Life of E Robert Pendleton (2006); Midnight in a Perfect Life ( 2010); and The Death of All Things Seen (2016). Michael Collins, whose novel The Keepers of Truth was shortlisted for the 2000 Man Booker Prize and the Impac Award and won Irish Novel of the Year, is this month’s Irish Times Book Club featured author. ADVERTISEMENT Eoin McNamee’s Irish Times review of Collins’s latest novel caled it a “dense, absorbing work, shot through with brilliance and insight … The event will be recorded for a podcast which will be live on irishtimes.com from March 31st. We will also carry an interview with the author. Many of his works are set in the Rust Belt, the once prosperous Midwest region of the US hit by economic decline and population loss. The author of 10 works of fiction will be discussing his career with Martin Doyle, Books Editor of The Irish Times, in the glór theatre, Ennis, this Saturday, March 4th, at 9.30pm, as part of the Ennis Book Club Festival. Collins, writes Prof William O’Rourke, director of creative writing at Notre Dame, in his essay, “is in the tradition of the great Chicago writers, Midwestern writers, such as Saul Bellow, Theodore Dreiser, James T Farrell, other chroniclers of the American underbelly, its teeming sites of production and consumption, its portraits of the used and used-up many who both populate the place and produce its products”. The urgent phrasing impels the reader forward, the writer’s insight wants you to dwell on the individual sentence. a formidable, demanding achievement”. The pace counterbalances the weight of the prose. “The prose carries …

The bishop, the box and the shining orbs: the many ghosts of the Gaiety

There is also a touring version of the show, and this is the one that is coming to the Gaiety for a week in March. “Micheál Mac Liammóir told me one night that there had been so many great performances on the Gaiety stage that the performers had to have left something behind of themselves,” McFall recalls. McFall was working there at the time. He indicates one of the lovely glass light shades in the upstairs foyer. We all crowd into it. The Woman in Black is at the Gaiety from March 13th-18th. I’m actually shocked. It’s large, about the size of a rugby ball. “There have been nights when I am the last person in the theatre, and those doors have closed by themselves behind me. The Gaiety is a venue rumoured to host a few ghosts of its own. One night recently, I went to the theatre after the show had come down for an after-hours tour with people who have spent many years working there. “They didn’t know what they were looking at. Usually when they have forgotten to polish the glass. “He had the show closed down after only three nights.” The archbishop complained about the mattress scene in which the actors were not asleep, to Louis Elliman, the theatre’s then chairman and managing director. We begin in the empty theatre, with its now-unoccupied 1,007 seats. Round white things, moving around. “See those doors?” The doors he is pointing to are big and heavy, and held in place against the wall by special magnets. One of the cleaning staff will report that she is trying to make contact with them. The play has been running for 27 years in London, and has reportedly been seen by seven million people to date. Former stage manager, George McFall (88), knows the Gaiety possibly better than anyone alive. Maybe someone backstage at the Gaiety next week will see The Woman in Black in the Green Room bar having a drink with the late Archbishop John Charles McQuaid. Even though we are in the middle of the city centre on a Thursday evening, no sound leaks in from the street. Gaietytheatre.ie Agatha Christie’s whodunnit The Mousetrap might have been running in London’s West End for roughly a thousand years now, but Susan Hill’s ghost story, The Woman in Black, is not that far behind it. “What orbs?” I ask. That’s …

‘The Woman in Black’ won’t faze Gaiety’s resident ghosts

“There have been nights when I am the last person in the theatre, and those doors have closed by themselves behind me. The Gaiety is a venue rumoured to host a few ghosts of its own. We begin in the empty theatre, with its now-unoccupied 1,007 seats. Maybe someone backstage at the Gaiety next week (check date this runs) will see The Woman in Black in the Green Room bar having a drink with the late Archbishop John Charles McQuaid. He indicates one of the lovely glass light shades in the upstairs foyer. “The orbs were all around here one night,” McQuillan says matter-of-factly. “Micheál Mac Liammóir told me one night that there had been so many great performances on the Gaiety stage that the performers had to have left something behind of themselves,” McFall recalls. “About five years ago, I got a call from the stage door to come down and have a look at something on the monitor there,” says McQuillan. He means his ghost. An empty theatre at night is a disconcertingly silent place. Elliman has been dead since 1965. Tonight he is back. “So who appears in the theatre but archbishop John Charles McQuaid, to complain,” McQuillan says. The show closed. It’s a charming period portrait of the opera singer Margaret Burke Sheridan, who died in 1958. That’s the only place he’s ever been seen.” ADVERTISEMENT So who knows? “There was a scene with a mattress,” as he puts it. ADVERTISEMENT “What orbs?” I ask. Usually when they have forgotten to polish the glass. McFall was working there at the time. We all crowd into it. Gaietytheatre.ie Orbs, they were. “A sex scene,” Patridge clarifies, in case I was thinking it might be a mattress scene involving someone asleep and snoring their head off. “Louis has been seen several times,” McFall says functionally. The other two just nod their heads sagely in agreement, as if orbs are as common as dust. Supernatural contretemps McQuaid had words with Elliman. Even though we are in the middle of the city centre on a Thursday evening, no sound leaks in from the street. “Look,” she says. Agatha Christie’s whodunnit The Mousetrap might have been running in London’s West End for roughly a thousand years now, but Susan Hill’s ghost story, The Woman in Black, is not that far behind it. “She bothers the cleaners.” “How?” Trying to make contact …

How Lucy McKenna’s brainwaves affect her art

“It’s very weird,” agrees McKenna, “how this intervention of a conscious human observing something can change its behaviour – it can’t be all about us, but on the surface it seems as if our consciousness is changing something.” Observable unknown Why does this matter beyond the labs and halls of scientific institutions? Instead she found out while studying textiles at the National College of Art and Design. ADVERTISEMENT In McKenna’s world, all this connects. Growing up in Kilkenny, she didn’t realise this was any “different”, imagining – when she thought about it at all – that everyone did the same. Before I get concerned that she’s about to get all Harry Potter on me, she launches into a discussion of how matter changes its behaviour once it goes past a certain level of smallness – below the size of an atom. Instead, what grabs and holds her are what she describes as the “magical properties of physics”. Or be in two places at once. I’m trying to make these huge questions a little more tangible and democratic, more personal.” At the Lab this manifests as a small, tightly-packed installation in which cut paper red fronds cascade from above, against a digital wallpaper that shows a schematic of the volume of Google searches about space: from “Mars” to “NASA found a bible on Mars.. She put me in touch with [researchers at] Trinity College Dublin, who were running tests and experiments on volunteers. It draws on her experiences at the observatory in Armagh, and from a life-long fascination with astronomy and space. So I got involved and did lots of strange experiments.” She recounts one in which “they poured gel on my head and put a cap on with all this wire on it. “Randomly,” she recalls. From her work I had imagined someone intense, nerdy and scientific in a scary way. “It’s grassy green, really nice. Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who spent some time in Dublin in the 1940s (the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies was set up by de Valera to entice him here), showed that the act of observing something changes it. Or be both. “One of the astronomers told me: ‘Lucy the light from this star cluster is 440 light years away.’ So the light left the star before telescopes were invented. “Much farther away in time, to bring those huge vast times and distances down to …

Fiona Shaw to direct Medea at Wexford Festival Opera

The programme also features two new one-act operas called Dubliners, by Irish composer Andrew Synnott, with adaptation and text by Arthur Riordan, in a co-production with Opera Theatre Company. The Irish actor has previously played the lead in Medea, for which she was nominated for a Tony award. These are based on Counterparts and The Boarding House from James Joyce’s novel. The latter is based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel Resurrection. See wexfordopera.com for details. The third main production is Franco Alfano’s Risurrezione, which is conducted by Francesco Cilluffo and directed by Rosetta Cucchi. The festival is now in its 66th year and in 2017 will extend to an 18-day festival, from October 19th to November 5th. Tickets go on sale to the public on April 15th. Shaw will also deliver 2017 Dr Tom Walsh Lecture at the festival on October 21st. The biggest draw is likely to be a production of Luigi Cherubini’s Medea, which will be conducted by Stephen Barlow and directed by Fiona Shaw. Foroni’s Cristina, regina di Svezia was performed at the 2013 festival. This year, five of its six operas will be sung in Italian. In recent years, Shaw has successfully moved into opera direction, with productions including Riders to the Sea, The Marriage of Figaro for English National Opera, and The Rape of Lucretia for Glyndebourne and the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. A new version of Medea, the return of Foroni, and a Tolstoy adaptation are the main highlights of Wexford Festival Opera’s programme for 2017. Also on the bill is Jacopo Foroni’s Margherita, conducted by Timothy Myers and directed by Michael Sturm.

Gerald Barry on how a fever made him drag Alice under ground

“Yes, well from a simple gag can come something feverish. Gerald Barry claims the idea for his latest piece struck him in the midst of a fever. Sometimes, things are funny because of that formal constraint.” Since the success of The Importance of Being Earnest, with its madcap staging and 10-minute-long scenes of plate-smashing, Barry has been cemented as a leading wit in an oeuvre not known for boundless hilarity. Eventually, even these become a vehicle for mischief. Sometimes I laugh when I’m alone, at things I’ve done, but really there are moments in my works which people find funny that I’ve never understood.” Was this was true with Alice? “When people first started laughing in the LA audience, I was very shocked by it. They have them beamed even when the opera is in English, because sometimes it’s not possible to understand English when sung. ADVERTISEMENT Lady Bracknell and the Red Queen Barry also felt something about that name carried a deeper resonance. The third I kept retains the essential bones, like an X-ray, but what’s removed is maybe not as funny now as he thought it was then. They were so similar in fact, I did fear I was making a mistake, because I’d just done Earnest, and would I just be doing the same thing again? ADVERTISEMENT “Well, it can’t be done self-consciously. It’s incredibly rich; multi-layered in all kinds of ways that are hard to pin down. “Typically for me, I thought this was an incredibly original idea, all of my own,” he says, laughing. I remind Barry that this tiny moment got nearly the biggest laugh from the audience when I saw the show in London. A lot of the gags were tied to social and political things that don’t really have much meaning for us now. But, in the end, I felt like I had to do it. It evokes in you all kinds of strange emotional responses that you can’t put a name to.” Despite his love for Wilde’s masterpiece, Barry claims Carroll’s work may now have superseded it in his affections. And this is partly the reason I went with the title Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, which was the one used in the first private publication by Lewis Carroll”. It seems perfectly engineered for maximum laughs. Since promoters are very nervous about not having surtitles, because the audience will be lost, I …