I was very impressed with what Mark Fisher of the Guardian Theatre Blog had to say about the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. It is true that Dublin not only manages to present an astonishing mix of Irish and international quality shows on its stages every autumn. I also agree that the Dublin audiences are world-class, enthusiastically welcoming arts and culture into their lives throughout the year. Politicians and economists take note. If that is not proof enough for the arts being an integral part of the Irish economy, I wonder what is.
Having been a volunteer with the festival for the third year in a row it is great fun to be part of a cultural event which not only caters for the traditionalists but also for the theatre-goers who enjoy the more challenging shows.
I ended up seeing a good handful of plays in various venues. The Manganiyar Seduction was a blast of sound for world music enthusiasts creatively staged to give each section of the ‘band’ equal emphasis (the four singing boys on the top ‘floor’ of the construct were the icing on the cake!). Three Sisters (in Russian with English surtitles) impressed true Chekhov fans with faultless and authentic acting. The Pitmen Painters was thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time. To Be Straight With You and Silver Stars were both incredibly moving and challenged the audience to think about discrimination and inclusion. Buck Jones And The Body Snatchers was possibly the most lighthearted of all the plays, taking place in a Georgian house on Pearse St with the audience following the actors around the building from scene to scene. And I was sad to have missed Goodbye Mr Muffin, a fabulous kids show for the theatre enthusiasts of the future.
All in all another successful year. I ran into some familiar faces (other longstanding volunteers), got to know a few new people and Gay Byrne almost bought a programme off me. Now that would have really made my day.