Rock legend Robert Plant; songwriting legend Burt Bacharach; five world premiers and two Irish and two European premieres for theatre; an on street silent disco/flash mob, and major public discussions on Brexit and climate change - this is the Galway International Arts Festival 2019.
Theatre, opera, and dance
An explosive and thought–provoking work of experimental music theatre, Least Like The Other - Searching for Rosemary Kennedy, is about the eldest daughter of Joe and Rose Kennedy, sister of JFK and Bobby Kennedy, using heavily redacted materials from the archives. Featuring music by Brian Irvine and starring Naomi Louisa O’Connell, it traces her life up to her disastrous lobotomy at the age of 23. A picture of the USA in the 1940s and 1950s, it also explores gender, mental health, patriarchy, the media, and family. The show is a co-production between Irish National Opera and GIAF (Black Box Theatre, July 15 to 20 ).
Kneehigh make a welcome return to GIAF with Dead Dog In A Suitcase [and other love songs], a "wild reinvention" of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, featuring puppetry, physical theatre, and live music, and a cast of actor–musicians (Bailey Allen Hall, NUI Galway, July 16 to 20 ).
Garry Hynes will direct the world premiere of Epiphany, by Brian Watkins. Set in an old city house, a group of friends gather to reignite a forgotten tradition. When Gabriel, is unusually late, the participants become concerned, and there might not be enough wine, or goose, or time, to fend off some long-neglected anxieties that haunt their souls (Town Hall Theatre, July 17 to 27 ). Among the cast is Aaron Monaghan [pictured below].
Three generations of a Dublin family are profiled through teen discos, late night taxis, launderettes, vigilantes, home nurses, babies, immigrants, and seagulls, in Dylan Coburn Gray's Citysong (Black Box Theatre, July 23 to 27 ).
The 2014 shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson in Missouri, is the subject of Dael Orlandersmith's Until The Flood, which is based on interviews with eyewitnesses and those who lived through the events (Mick Lally Theatre, July 22 to 27 ).
Immersive theatre was a hit with audiences last year, and another show in that form, Now Is The Time To Say Nothing, an interactive video installation exploring the role of screens in observing global conflict, follows the real story of Syrian artist Reem Karssli and the impact of the Syrian civil war in Aleppo. (Bank Of Ireland Theatre, NUIG, July 22 to 28 ).
It would not be the arts festival without an Enda Walsh play. This year he presents The Same, about two women called Lisa who meet each other and realise they have far more in common than just a name. Exploring ideas of the self and parallel lives, it stars sisters Catherine and Eileen Walsh (Galway Airport, Carnmore, July 18 to 27 ). Also, the latest of Walsh's Waiting Room shows will be in the O’Donoghue Centre, NUIG, throughout the festival.
Galway's Moonfish Theatre will present the world premiere of Redemption Falls, an adaptation of Joseph O'Connor's acclaimed novel of Irish immigration and the post-civil war USA (An Taibhdhearc, July 24 to 28 ). Sisters Fea and Caireen, are raising a boy together. Caireen embraces motherhood while Fea struggles. This is Cleft, starring Simone Kirby and Penny Layden, and written by Fergal McElherron (O'Donoghue Theatre, NUIG, July 22 to 27 ).
A work in progress musical version of Pat McCabe's Breakfast On Pluto, with music by Duke Special, will be in the Black Box Theatre on July 19 and 20.
Oscar Wilde will appear in various guises throughout the festival. His Salomé will be given a staging as Gaeilge with choreography from Breandán de Gallaí (An Taibhdhearc, July 11 to 20 ); a musical interpretation of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest by Justin McCarthy, Arthur Riordan, and the Galway Advertiser's Charlie McBride (Town Hall, July 21 ), while Andrew Flynn direct's Mary Elizabeth Burke–Kennedy's The Star Child, inspired by an Oscar Wilde story (Nuns' Island Theatre, July 15 to 28 ).
Andrew Flynn will also direct Eugene O’Brien's Eden, where Breda is determined to save her marriage, but her husband Billy, is more interested in Imelda (also Nuns' Island Theatre, July 15 to 28 ), and there will also be the Druid Debuts.
Australian dance companies have delighted GIAF audiences over many years, and Gravity & Other Myths will continue that tradition when it returns with its show Out of Chaos.... Billed as its boldest and most ambitious work to date, it promises hard–edged, throbbing and explosive acrobatics (Bailey Allen Hall, NUIG, July 23 to 27 ).
Big Top and other concerts
The Big Top concerts this year are Grammy–winning Saharan blues band Tinariwen (July 16 ); John Grant and Villagers (July 18 ), Bell X1 (July 19 ); the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland presents A Tribute to John Williams (July 20, 2.30pm ); The Academic (July 20, 7.30pm ); soul singer Macy Gray (July 21 ); songwriting legend Burt Bacharach (July 22 ); Two Door Cinema Club (July 26 ); Orbital (july 27 ); and The Coronas (July 28 ).
Gigs in the Róisín Dubh are Huun–Huur–Tu, a traditional group from the Mongolia–Russia border (July 15 and 16 ); The Frank and Walters (July 17 ); Dublin rapper Kojaque (July 18 ); indie rockers Pillow Queens (July 19 ); Mick Flannery (July 20 ); Galway Street Club (July 21 ); Lisa O’Neill and Junior Brother (July 24 ); the extraordinary indie-rocker Ezra Furman (July 25 ); Booka Brass Band (July 26 ); Jerry Fish (July 27 ); and the London Astrobeat Orchestra, performing the songs of Talking Heads (July 28 ).
Shows in Monroe's Live are The Henry Girls (July 17 ); Thanks Brother, featuring John Broe and Róisín O (July 18 ); Ciaran Tourish and Kevin Doherty (July 19 ); folk legend Peggy Seeger (July 21 ); Sharon Shannon, Mary Coughlan, and Frances Black (July 22 ); Garadice (July 23 ); Jack L with writer Pat McCabe (July 24 ); singer-songwriter Lisa Lambe (July 25 ); Kíla (July 26 ); and the lunchtime trad sessions throughout the festival.
St Nicholas' Collegiate Church will host former Led Zeppelin singer and rock legend Robert Plant, and his new band Saving Grace (July 18 ), and Joan Is Policewoman (July 15 ), and Iarla Ó Lionáird and Steve Cooney (July 17 ), while the piano troubadour Marieke Huysmans plays The Docks (July 20 to 27 ).
Electric will host a variety of DJ and electronica acts: Sunil Sharpe and Violet (July 19 ), DJ Overdose, Shiv and Bill Converse (July 20 ), and Boys Noize, Orpheu The Wizard, Logos and ELLLL (July 27 ), along with left-field indie singer-songwriter Maria Somerville (July 26 ).
Street theatre and events
The ever popular The People Build, participatory architectural project with Olivier Grossetete returns to Eyre Square; Les P’Tits Bras brings its acrobatics show, Behind The Scenes to the Square (July 19 to 21 ); and the Guru Dudu Silent Disco Walking Tours, thoughout the festival, is sure to be a big hit. Australian motivator David Naylor, talking through audiences’ headsets, will guide a 50–strong crowd to dance and sing their way from Eyre Square to the Spanish Arch and Galway’s west end.
The Festival Gallery is located on William Street this year, just behind Premoli shoe shop. the chief exhibition will be In The Flesh by sculptor Sam Jinks [a work from the exhibiiton is pictured above] which explores intimacy, empathy, alienation, mortality, and acceptance through hyper–realistic human figures.
Making Space is a collaboration between the artists Chloe Brenan, Jane Cassidy, Louise Manifold, and Treasa O’Brien, with NUIG scientists, interrogating contemporary approaches to astronomical research. There will also be shows from photographer Sarah Hickson; Taiwanese artist Annlin Chao; and Alice Maher and Aideen Barry (all in NUIG ), Diana Copperwhite and Ciara Barker (126 Gallery ), Joe Hogan (Kenny Gallery ), and works by printmakers (GMIT ).
First Thought Talks and comedy
The theme of this years talks is 'Borders', and there will be numerous discussions on Brexit, as well as Trump's planned border wall and the wall in Israel-Palestine. Climate change, transgender issues, the GAA, #MeToo, and last year's Repeal the Eighth referendum will also be discussed. Speakers include former president Mary Robinson, Prof Gearoid Ó Tuathaigh, Prof Diarmaid Ferriter, Orange Is The New Black's Kate Mulgrew, and The Irish Times' Fintan O'Toole and Una Mullallay.
On a lighter note there will be comedy from Andrew Maxwell (Róisín Dubh, July 22 ) while the Ruby Room of The King's Head will host Gerry Mallon's festival institution, The Laughter Loft with Foil Arms and Hog, Deirdre O’Kane, Barry Murphy, Fred Cooke, Danny O’Brien, Joe Rooney, Karl Spain, Tony Cantwell and Neil Delamere (July 15 to 28 ).
The very popular Festival garden and club will both return this year. For more information and tickets see www.giaf.ie