No’s Knife review: Lisa Dwan goes on with Beckett redux

life alone is enough”. But, like the words, even Christopher Oram’s set keeps disturbing any fixed ideas. *** Abbey Theatre, Dublin “[You] must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on,” run the famous last words of The Unnamable, a disintegrating consciousness as it reaches an ending, if not a conclusion. When sound designer Mic Pool whips Dwan’s amplified voice around the auditorium, you get the sense that we may be hovering above her, afforded a bird’s eye view of this indeterminate presence on an abstract landscape. As the tramps said of Pozzo, she’s all humanity, and the agenda seems never to parse the voice, but to pluralise it. She is as ambivalent about her faltering story as she is about her material being. It goes on. “Suddenly, no, at last, long last, I couldn’t any more, I couldn’t go on,” it begins, with a similar tumult of contradictions. Finally, though, the production settles to accommodate a more intact, distinct voice: “Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be… What does it say, then, that the fracturing voice of Samuel Beckett’s next undertaking, Texts For Nothing, “the grisly afterbirth” of his prose trilogy, resumes the struggle with less determination? The spectacle shrinks to hold her in a single spotlight, moving deep into the auditorium, a focal point for a kind of vanishing act, as she decides “a story is not compulsory, just a life… Runs until June 17 Later padding through a primordial landscape, in the arresting, twitchy choreography of Lucy Hind, she casts her mind into an imagined future, letting her voice slalom between girlishness (splashing playfully in a puddle) and braying gruffness. “Let them cease,” she says of her head and body, as though she is something else, letting the sibilance of “cease” rustle harshly through the theatre. This makes it a much more aggressive, tortured reading than the page suggests. Dwan is precise with every swivel, as though her voice is following a complicated score, but the range of accents and personas is mystifying. Simply by physicalising these texts – less a stream of consciousness than any number of tributaries, rushing and diverging – it gives some purchase to writing that actively resists it. Adapted for the stage by Lisa Dwan, who performs four of Beckett’s 13 fragments in striking, successive scenes, No’s Knife has its work cut …

Pram in the hall? My problem’s the phone in my hand

So I can only guess at what it’s like to go from one state to the other, the carefree writer who suddenly finds herself in charge of a small child – the owner of the pram in Cyril Connolly’s famous quote. Messenger, which sounds like my microwave. In its defence, the internet is now an integral part of writing and research – it can tell you if your fictional hotel name exists in real life, what music was being played in 1990, and how quickly chloroform works (an altogether disturbing bit of research – there are an astonishing number of people who know quite a lot about chloroform). I answer its cry, and for reassurance, I check on it even when there’s no cry at all. I’ve been writing for 40 minutes now, and so far I’ve been interrupted by one child, four Facebook notifications, two e-mails, and a WhatsApp message. Email – three different accounts – lighting up my screen. I answer its cry, and for reassurance, I check on it even when there’s no cry at all I write in the morning when my children are at school, and at night, when they’re asleep. Except of course, the silence is regularly broken by the most demanding presence of all – my phone, and its incessant, needy cries. But at night, when they’re finally asleep, I can focus – the pram in the hall is silent. Breaks are good – it’s the rabbit-hole side of things that’s a problem. The traditional pram in the hall has nothing on my phone. The Other Side of the Wall by Andrea Mara (Poolbeg Press) is in shops now and available on Amazon It would be difficult to do research without the internet, so going offline completely can be counterproductive. And sometimes I just need the downtime – to stand by the kettle, to stretch, to pop onto Instagram and enjoy all the pretty. And once I do, the magic happens. Then just when I think I’m done, I spot those little numbers telling me about the new posts at the top of my feed. Then as a treat, every hour or so, I sneak a look. And while I have a fairly good grasp of what my children need – education each morning and sleep at night – it seems I don’t have the same understanding of my own needs, or how …

Arcade Fire at Malahide Castle: here’s everything you need to know

Their latest clutch of European tour dates – including two shows at the Primavera Festival, one unannounced, the other a headlining set – comes as the band prep their upcoming fifth album Everything Now. Good. What time does everything kick off? As it’s their first record in almost four years, fans will be scouring the set for clues to its stylistic direction. Funky electro tropical Colombian band Bomba Estereo are the special guests. Space is limited and vehicles will only be permitted access via the back road entrance. Ahead of the show – the band’s first in Dublin since Marlay Park in 2014 – here’s all the other information you need. At time of writing, yes. Selfie sticks, mercifully, are among the venue’s list of banned items, alongside umbrellas, laser pens, air horns and anything else you can think of that might be bothersome to other gig goers. Arcade Fire, the Canadian art rock idiosyncratics who became one of th eplanet’s biggest live draws, pull into Malahide Castle on Wednesday evening looking to prove that a lengthy layoff from recording hasn’t softened their powers. There is also a car park for ticketholders which opens at 4pm. Dublin City centre Dart locations include Grand Canal Dock, Tara Street, Pearse Street and Connolly Station. MCD have urged everyone to cooperate with gardaí and follow any loudspeaker announcements. Are tickets still available? Stages times have not yet been confirmed by MCD.  How do I get there? Credit Card collections can be scooped up on the grounds of Malahide Castle. Highest temperatures will be 17 to 20 degrees. What about security? The band’s dazzling stage production values, ornate orchestration and almighty choruses have in the past roused outdoor crowds as easily as singer Win Butler slides into his gold blazers. Tickets are €69.50 excluding booking fees and are available via Ticketmaster. Wake Up, Rebellion (Lies) and Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) have been aired out recently, all of which will undoubtedly retain their power to blow out the audience’s voice boxes and get hands touching the sky. The closest Dart stop to the venue is Malahide Train Station. What’s the weather forecast? Peppy new single Everything Now is sure to be featured, but if recent setlists provide a rough outline for the Malahide Castle gig, Arcade Fire will lean on their most famous jams. Mainly dry with a fair amount of cloud and some …

Stoner, the pearl of ‘Lazarus literature’

Ian McEwan dismisses her simply as “the awful wife”. The shortage of qualified teachers once America joins the first World War enables Stoner to pursue an academic career that might not otherwise have been offered to him. For Edith, the effort of repeating that account to another seems beyond her and so she marries the first man who hears her confession. On the one occasion when he does take a firm position – in passionate defence of academic integrity – he makes a powerful enemy for life. First published in 1965 to muted and limited praise, Stoner was out of print within a year. In the case of William Stoner, the paralysis has its source in “stoical excess” – a condition that stifles his imaginative powers. Yet many reviewers and critics have steadfastly refused to respond to Edith in this way. Few critics have railed against the arguably greater injustices perpetrated on Stoner by the university he has served so faithfully. But the required course on English literature “troubled and disquieted [William Stoner] in a way nothing had ever done before” and by his second year he has abandoned his agricultural studies in favour of literature. Having struggled to make a meagre living from the land he hopes that his son will come to understand and improve the soil – to make it fecund – in a way that has been impossible for him. Not that his life is empty of desire or yearning, but the objects of his desire: his wife, his daughter, academia, the lover he eventually takes – all whom he longs to have a meaningful relationship with – all become, in some way, unobtainable. But Stoner, like most besotted lovers, does not question either the nature or the object of his love: he is content with its pleasure and its mysteries. Sarah Churchwell called it a “lovely, sad little masterpiece”, while Bret Easton Ellis tweeted to his half-a-million followers that he was “In the middle of [reading] what might be one of the great unheralded twentieth-century American novels” and, that it is “almost perfect”. Less frequently she remained half numbed by sleep; then she was passive, and she murmured drowsily, whether in protest or surprise he did not know. Yet his life is always limited, always bound to someone else’s will. If she was sufficiently roused from her sleep she tensed and stiffened, turning her head …

Putin to Oliver Stone: ‘I’m not a woman so I don’t have bad days’

Bemusement? Putin offers a few unenthusiastic words of praise. Contempt? Filmmaker Oliver Stone’s four-hour documentary on the Russian leader, The Putin Interviews, began screening in the US on Monday night. Photograph: Showtime/YouTube The screening of the film-documentary – the remaining parts will be shown over the next three nights on Showtime in the US – is timely because of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. In one revealing section, Stone invites Vladimir Putin on a movie date. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Oliver Stone during teh filming of The Putin Interviews. He asks the Russian president if he’s ever seen Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Does he see Stone as a journalist, an ally or a fool? Putin says he hasn’t, so Stone gets him to watch the 1964 nuclear war satire in a conference room: a little Nyetflix-and-chill. Putin sits still, smiling thinly. He’s a hero for our time’ Snowden review: a Stone-cold liberal treat But the awkward interlude captures the – to borrow a Strangelove word – essence of The Putin Interviews, and what the two men seem to want from the production. It’s hard to tell. But what is he really feeling? Strangelove screening Oliver Stone: ‘We owe Edward Snowden a huge debt. If you’ve ever seen a movie with your cineaste friend who really needs you to love it as much as he does, you know this dynamic. Here’s what we’ve learned so far. Putin discusses dangers of nuclear war after Dr. Stone is animated, laughing and dropping bits of trivia. Discomfort? But Stone has a longer game in mind. “I prefer not to go to the shower with him,” Putin says. The episode ends: “To be continued.” The Putin Interviews is neither the last or best word on Russia, but it makes a point. (As Donald Trump says in a line heard early on, “You think our country’s so innocent?”) Tough guy Putin Putin, meanwhile, plays the tough-but-fair leader, beset by the calumny of hypocritical Westerners. There’s a hint at the end of the second hour. Stone asks: “Do you ever have a bad day?” The answer: “I’m not a woman, so I don’t have bad days.” In the interviews, Putin has the casual charm of an executive who knows that he could always press a button and release the hounds. The interviews took place …

St Vincent offers solid advice on building your confidence

Making sure you don’t lose zeroes in your bank account?” She went on: “Basically, corporations are like, ‘Don’t have an opinion’, and I’m like, ‘So if I was vocalising for the other side, you’d still get letters, you know that right?’ ” “I think it’s actually quite selfish: if you’re all about ‘the people’ but you don’t want to help ‘the people’ because you don’t want to say things when things get tough, then what are you about? “As many times as I can, if there’s a song I have a writing credit on, I try to have some sort of element of me on it, just as a kind of signature. Meanwhile, Ed Sheeran told Billboard that he always wants to have a stamp on songs he has worked on. Even if it’s me doing the backing vocal or me playing the guitar, I just like having that element on songs I’ve been involved in.” Zeroes of the week: People who don’t use their voices, according to Katy Perry, who told the Observer that she has lost campaigns for being outspoken. Protecting your brand? Hero of the week: St Vincent gave some good life advice on the Rookie Podcast: “I think the faking it till you make it thing is very real. Lorde sings about endless nights out, searching for the zenith, before realising “what the f*** are perfect places, anyway?” It’s the comma that seals the deal, a syncopated shrug as she raises another glass and puts her hands up on the air to carry on. TRACK OF THE WEEK Perfect Places by Lorde In a recent interview, Lorde sang the praises of Robyn. In Perfect Places the admiration shows: the potent mix of happy-sad and the strange sensation of regretting the fun you’re having while it’s still ongoing. If you don’t have confidence, pretend to be a person who does, and eventually you will have confidence ‘cause you’ll see the fruits of your reaching out to people, but mainly no one’s looking at you and no one cares ’cause they’re all thinking about themselves.”

Oliver Stone’s Putin Interviews: what we’ve learned so far

(Stone directed a 2016 biopic on him.) Stone asks whether a gay sailor could shower with a straight one. Then he notes that he is an expert in judo. Flattery Stone’s view from the left is a break from the usual news media vantages on Russia, either tough-talk centrism or the defences of Putin enablers-come-lately in the conservative media. He quips that Putin could influence the vote by endorsing a candidate, whose poll numbers would then drop. “I prefer not to go to the shower with him,” Putin says. “Why provoke him?” Stone, the good cop, coaxes his subject into some unguarded remarks. The cult of Putin is very much about physicality, and there’s plenty on display: He suits up for a hockey scrimmage, does strength-training workouts, talks martial arts. The interviews took place between July 2015 and February, and the first half, which Showtime provided for review, focuses on events before the US Presidential election. There’s a hint at the end of the second hour. “I prefer not to go to the shower with him,” Putin says. Never assume that history is over. He compliments Putin’s calm, asking: “Do you ever have a bad day?” The answer: “I’m not a woman, so I don’t have bad days.” Later, discussing the persecution of gay people in Russia – Putin denies there is any – Stone asks whether a gay sailor could shower with a straight one. A firm interview isn’t automatically effective, as was in evidence during the premiere of Megyn Kelly’s NBC news magazine last Sunday. Kelly peppered Putin with the kind of direct, simple questions about whether Russia fiddled with the election that a guilty or innocent man would deny exactly the same way. Stone gives Putin a platform for flattering versions of his government’s aggression in Ukraine; treatment of opposition parties; and the sheltering of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower. – (New York Times Service) Stone asks: “Do you ever have a bad day?” The answer: “I’m not a woman, so I don’t have bad days.” In the interviews, Putin has the casual charm of an executive who knows that he could always press a button and release the hounds. It seems driven, like everything in 2015 and 2016, by the assumption that the “hawk” Hillary Clinton would become the next president. (As Donald Trump says in a line heard early on, “You think our …

The pros and cons of being a writer

Naturally, publishers and theatre companies are looking for the next wunderkind but never mind. As Edward Albee said, “Creativity is magic. Cons Rejection Waiting to hear back from an editor can be almost as long as waiting on the NHS, the only difference being the pain is spiritual rather than physical. Writer’s block We’ll call it that even though, for me, it’s rewriter’s block, as I love the writing itself but will start something new, do anything, rather than go back for a rewrite. This piece is about the pros and the cons (and that’s not short for prostitutes and con artists, though there are plenty of both in the literary world), so here goes: Pros You can experience more in life What people don’t realise is that writing is not about inventing life; it’s about reinventing what you have already lived. All writers at some time or other get stuck in that vicious mental circle – if you don’t write, you feel ill; if you feel ill, you can’t write. Rosemary Jenkinson is artist-in-residence at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Writing is the only path there is for non-conformists and, in my case, I’m so non-conforming I nearly didn’t conform to it. Still, in spite of the lack of royal grants, it is a terrific feeling to be, as Jack London called it, “a brain merchant”. It costs you practically nothing (except blood, sweat and tears) All you need is a cheap computer and off you go. After all, you have to reject half your own work, so why subject yourself to more rejection? All of us writers question why we write. You get to explore things under the guise of research and the best bit of being a writer is that it’s a passport to bad behaviour. Sometimes I think writing is like living with a terrible boyfriend who drains you financially and tortures you mentally. You can be a wunderfrau. Of course, there are expenses like going to literary events and buying books but, to me, the real danger is feeling you should go on courses. I prefer not to send out stories indiscriminately because the more knockbacks you get, the more they dent your confidence. You have to make sacrifices moneywise Long gone are the days when F Scott Fitzgerald could make four grand on a short story. And if you’re a quick writer, you don’t …

Vermeer ‘gives you ideas, but not the manual’

“I would love to make people aware that it’s not a once in a lifetime chance – it’s a once ever chance,” Waiboer says. Woman with a Balance, c.1664 Oil on canvas, 40.3 x 35.6 cm, from the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC Widener Collection. Waiboer struck an alliance with the Louvre, which owns Vermeer’s The Lacemaker and The Astronomer, and the National Gallery in Washington, which contributed Woman Holding a Balance and A Lady Writing. We are going to show The Astronomer and The Geographer’ [from the Louvre and Frankfurt] together.” Vermeer was a perfectionist who produced on average three paintings a year. Behind the scenes at the National Gallery of Ireland’s stunning renovation Forget the romance: Vermeer was a modern artist The next generation of artists: the 2017 graduate shows The Vermeers stand out though, not only because his paintings are more familiar to us, present in at least a dozen novels and feature films, not to mention advertisements. The country was also attacked by the English fleet and German bishops. The astrolabe, globe and quadrant of Vermeer’s scientists, and their kimono-like day coats, show how cosmopolitan was Golden Age Holland, the most urbanised country of its day. De Hooch and Vermeer worked together in Delft. Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) Woman with a Lute, c.1663-4 Oil on canvas, 51.4 x 45.7 cm The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Collis P Huntington, 1900 One has only to compare Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance with Pieter de Hooch’s Woman Weighing Gold Coin, the two paintings that opened the Louvre’s exhibition, to see why Vermeer is so special. “You are not going to see 10 Vermeers together in Ireland again. Louis XIV invaded Holland. There are several reasons for his slow pace. That’s a long lead time for any exhibition, even of Old Masters. The exhibition is replete with other symbols of the wealth amassed by Holland as a trading nation: Chinese porcelain and furs, ebony and ivory, Italian marble, carved Spanish chairs, African slaves… They agreed the exhibition would travel to all three museums. Not only was Vermeer part of what would today be termed a network of Dutch genre painters, “He was not the most famous, nor the most influential, nor the best paid,” says Waiboer. Vermeer’s interiors and costumes are more luxurious than the average Dutch family would have …

The next generation of artists: the 2017 graduate shows

What’s especially impressive, though, is that while in the past there was a presumption that painting was a kind of ideological choice, one not necessarily backed up by any great skill or rigour, that notion has been phased out. This year, Peter Slyman’s brilliant installation, with a nod to Richard Wilson’s landmark 1987 work 20:50, expertly situates the viewer in an unsettling, ominous space. They relate not only to the world around them, but also to various modes and schools of abstract painting, and would convince in any such company. Eve O’Callaghan is a case in point. That can work in their favour. Often monochrome, her paintings are assured and accomplished. To be fair, that can be helpful. In a way that recalls the subversive strategies of Sabina Mac Mahon, Siúan Ní Dhochartaigh which brilliantly interrogates the conceits and conventions of the art world. IADT Fine Art Graduate Exhibition, NCAD 2017 Fine Art Degree Show ***** There has been and, at the NCAD still is, a great deal of very accomplished work on view at two of this year’s fine art degree shows around Dublin. A significant number of graduates show diverse, thoughtful bodies of work that evidence attention to and knowledge of the history of art and the history of painting. And print is a haven for drawing, as with exquisite works by Cara Donaghy. Michelle Fahy does too in a different, equally effective vein. Doona points to an noticeable interest in physical, tactile materials and media, perhaps as a reaction to the growing dominance of screens, and that holds true generally. But despite the exponential development of digital technology since, the medium isn’t the message for current graduates, even as it feeds into the work they make. She’s not alone in this, but the majority of graduates’ work is accompanied by an artist’s statement, often extending over two pages of text. Don’t miss, also, Hannah de Chant McMillan, Margaret McKeon, Lia Cowan and Luke Fallon. There is a great deal of print in the print department, suggesting that the exodus to digital imaging, installation and whatever else has slackened, even if it has not ceased. People now expect a capsule summary, after which a quick glance at the work will suffice: because you’ve got it. Just to mention, there are exceptional figurative painting by Lorraine Slator, Niall Conlon and Alexandra Roche. Print is, when you think about it, …

‘Putting on art music in a concert hall is not good enough any more’

These are places, and communities, not particularly well-served when it comes to world premieres of contemporary music. Watching the lawn become a makeshift stage, you realise just how precarious the entire thing is. They can get the most incredible stuff streaming into their living room – why would they go out? The musicians would be arriving in the evening, but there was a lot of work to be done before then. The entire undertaking will be captured for posterity by film-maker Brendan Canty, best known as the director of Hozier’s Take Me To Church music video. That small stretch of stone-scattered grass slopes down to the Atlantic ocean. Kate Ellis, the ensemble’s cellist and artistic director, expects that the experience of Crashlands will have profound effects on the way the group plays and communicates. Five minutes more on dead still water. It carried the initial load of equipment and a small number of crew. At each stop they will premiere two new works written by Irish and international composers alongside a new poem by Rooney Prize-winning Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Pearson turns to the ferryman and says, “Any chance of you coming to Boffin?” Crashlands will be at Clonmel Junction Festival, Tipperary, July 9th; Water Music Festival, Leitrim, July 12th; Earagail Arts Festival, Aranmore Island, July 23rd; Cahersiveen Festival of Music and the Arts, August 3rd; Kilkenny Arts Festival, August 16th and Sounds from a Safe Harbour Festival, Cork on September 16th They’ve brought bottles of wine and beer. A single lamp is strapped to the front of the jeep that is bringing the last of the equipment down from the house. The next stop after Long Island is Inishboffin, off the Connemara coast. “It’s about a kind of generous gesture,” he says. (It has neither brakes nor lights, and is seemingly held together with rope.) It’s a fittingly precarious end to a DIY kind of day. “The kind of stuff you’re asked to do in new music can be very taxing,” says Robinson afterwards. The model of putting on art music in a concert hall and expecting people to show up just because you’re doing it, just because it’s there, it’s not good enough any more. But after spending the day on Long Island, watching this unique show come together, the attractions are obvious.  The setting for this first event is both spectacular and intimate. During the performance, …

Struggling artists: Trying to ‘justify yourself’ is humiliating

She is currently working on a book of short stories. I have a strong work ethic. Although other government departments recognise the value of such creative work, the realities of working as an artist have been ignored in this particular area. “I felt infantilised and that my contribution as an artist wasn’t being valued. Unwittingly and often unwillingly, the State has supported artists financially for decades through unemployment assistance. Until now the Department of Social Protection has been oblivious to the fact that some people may choose to work in precarious, unpredictable creative roles, with huge fluctuations in income and opportunity from one year to another. I make my contribution.” She believes that the experience can be debilitating and detrimental to some people’s artistic work. When Gallagher’s second novel, Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland, was published to widespread critical acclaim last year, she wrote an article for The Irish Times describing the 12-year process of writing, rewriting, researching and editing that had gone into its making. “There can be years when things are really, really tight,” says Gallagher, who acknowledges the support she receives for her work from the Arts Council and through the artists’ tax-exemption scheme. She’s not alone. On the dole Gallagher signed on the dole a number of times in the 1990s, between periods of full-time employment. “Anything that brings a bit more honesty to the process is good,” she says. Gallagher’s experience of intermittent employment with arts organisations, doing her own work as a performer and writer, working in new media, teaching and finding other ways to make ends meet is not untypical. Countless struggling musicians, painters, writers and film-makers signed on while pursuing their vocations. “I realised how much scurrying you were supposed to do,” Mia Gallagher says, recalling the times she signed on for unemployment assistance while seeking to make her way as a writer in the 1990s. “I’m glad I’m not someone who’s been forced to lie.” The general expectation is that the pilot scheme will cost little, but Gallagher also thinks it may provide useful insights into how artists go about their work. That artists can now be defined as self-employed but still be eligible for jobseeker’s allowance is the most significant change. Gallagher hadn’t sought to claim jobseeker’s allowance during any of those years, but there were times before that when she felt she had to. The new pilot scheme …