The bi-lingual version of the fairy tale Rotkäppchen – Red Riding Hood in German and English was often played for audiences with many immigrant children. That same year in Mullaghmore, Ireland we played Hansel and Gretel for an Irish audience with a troupe whose mother tongue was not English. My insight: it is also a story of the Irish diaspora. The Mother (Ireland) was too tired and hungry to feed her children so she sent them into the forest of the New World.
There is great power in the messages of these ancient tales descended from oral tradition. Wisdom of the grandmothers. Following the show I remember speaking with an Irish woman from Antrim which was still plagued by reverberations of the troubles. She had a son with down’s syndrome who she called the sweetest angel in her life. “And when I tuck him in at night and he looks deeply in my eyes just when the veils are thinning I whisper, never fear, even in the darkest night the light will come.”
Playwright Brian Friel died today. Special moments all round Dublin theatres tonight. This public art piece is in an alley between Temple Bar and the River Liffey. It says, “Around 1610 Shakespeare wrote The Tempest and retired to Stratford Upon Avon where he died in 1613. Queen Elizabeth having completed the conquest of Ireland was dead. The last of the O’Neill and O’Donnell were gone to Spain and Ulster planted with Crown subjects. Between 1613 and the War of Independence 1922 which won back self rule in Ireland, no play of any real merit was written in the English language by any other than by an Irish-born writer.”
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30. FOURTEEN lines, ONE Portugese writer-actor, TEN volunteer reciters.
Our first play at the Dublin Theatre Festival 2015. Writer-Actor TIAGO RODRIGUES taught ten volunteers to memorize and recite Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30 while he recalled stories about his grandmother interspersed with tales about Boris Pasternak, a cook from northern Portugal and a Dutch television show. Slowly we came to understand why this poem was chosen and the power of memorizing works that we love. Nobody can ever take away what is inside us.
BY HEART was performed at the historic Smock Alley Theatre built in 1662. “It’s about theatre as a safe house for forbidden texts – a guarantee of civilisation and resistance even in the most barbaric and desolate times” It was a captivating performance about the triumph of word lovers over those who would try to silence them.
I was one of the ten who volunteered to learn the sonnet. Fascinated by the premise of Tiago’s performance, I siezed the opportunity to learn by doing. He was masterful in how he brought us back time and again through repetition of 2 to 4 lines collectively, and then 10 individual lines. A sensitive and humorous teacher, he punctuated our recitations with stories and quotes. We gained unique insight in how he memorizes.
And his infectious love of poetry and writers discussing the power of words. One story involved someone teaching people to memorize a poem who then each taught ten others and so on. The poem lived in a way that it never could in print. Even if books are burned, even if a sunspot destroys the internet, even if libraries fade into memory, we can still be called upon to re-member these books and sonnets and treatises through taking the time to learn and speak them.
It was a profound experience both to watch him work and also try to remember my lines. He was such a masterful story teller that I would drift into his words and panic that I had forgotten my solo line: and moan the expense of many a vanisht sight – but the words came back.
At the end of the performance I wept.
If you want to watch a utube trailer in Portugese here is how to search: BY HEART – Tiago Rodrigues / Mundo Perfeito – TRAILER
Travel plans are moving out of the mists. We will soon be departing for England and Ireland to visit family and also to attend the Dublin Theatre Festival and a writer retreat on the Beara Peninsula in southwest Ireland. The internet offers many ways to lay down tracks through various modes of transportation and places to stay. But in Ireland, we are purposely leaving pockets of time to just go as we will, expecially in the western regions. To leave room for serendipity and intuition and following whims and interactions with people and places. My early years of travel were less planned and more from the gut, which led to some remarkable adventures. Now it is reversed. Although I still feel the prickling of excitement of being open to the unknown. And Ireland is known as the place where the veils thin. During my long trip in Scotland two years ago, the colour blue appeared in a variety of ways and is a thread to pick up the Celtic trail once again.