Tread Softly Festival | Purgatory
Words: Caomhan Keane
Blue Raincoat, the Hawks Well and the Model have teamed up with a business interest group, Team Sligo, and together with funding from Failte Ireland they have founded the Tread Softly festival. A complimentary event built around the Yeats Summer School it's based in and around the art of the Yeats Brothers Jack and WB. Caomhan Keane speaks to Niall Henry, artistic director of Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, whose show Purgatory runs until the end of the week
Tell us about Purgatory.
It is the story of an old man and his son. They return to the burnt out shell of the home of his youth. His father, of low stock married his aristocratic mother, drank heavily and burned down the house... 'everything was burnt, books, library all were burnt'. Directly following this the old man killed his father and left him in the fire. The old man believes the his mothers ghost still roams the ruins and that on the anniversary on her wedding night, the night on which the old man was conceived, she must relive the sex act while now knowing that her husband will destroy all and the her son will commit patricide. The old man tells all this to his son for the first time and then kills him believing the sacrifice will 'release my mother soul from her dream'.
Why this show?
It is Yeats' best straight play. He evidently feels a strong affinity with the old man and uses the metaphor of end of the Irish aristocracy well in the play. And Walter McDonagh, the man most responsible for the creation Blue Raincoat played the role very beautifully and as with all students we try to emulate our masters!
Tell me about the aesthetic.
The aesthetic is simple. An empty space with a dead tree just off centre stage. With the movement the intention is to imply the ritual of the killing of the son. They are dressed simply as peddlers/beggars. The sound design is minimalist, strings with no melody.
Why is Yeats out of fashion?
Simply put the good Yeats plays are very hard to do effectively. In these, some of the dance plays and some of the mask pieces, he is very concerned about form. Influenced by Gorgon Craig and his ideas about the uber marionette he build a series a plays where the actors range and command of skills in movement, mask and voice needs to be high. It is usually the case that there is a deficiency in one form or the other or the experience needed to mix these forms in a way that is appropriate dramatically is not there. Culturally in theatre in Ireland there has been very little engagement in the development of the theatre form and as result the skills and interest aren't really there to engage with the more theatrically complex Yeats pieces.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Wednesday 8th August 2012 | Theatre
No comments have been posted for this article yet. Be the first!
Log in to leave a comment
The opinions expressed here are those of the viewer and do not reflect those of Entertainment.ie. Entertainment.ie accepts no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for their accuracy of content. Please contact us to report abusive content