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Sep 27 2022

Michael Keegan-Dolan: back on the boards

Internationally acclaimed Kerry-based choreographer returns to the stage after 20 years with his new show for the Dublin Theatre Festival

Michael Keegan-Dolan is talking about movement, and it is enthralling. So it should be: the Longford-born choreographer has garnered raves and acclaim around the world. “You don’t ‘make’ bodies do anything,” he says. Instead, it’s about the mind and the spirit. “The energetic essence of a person. As soon as you impose on someone, you’re reducing their space.” While that may sound vague, the results in his own work are powerful and profound. His productions always bring you somewhere unexpected, and it’s quite a ride.

In 2003, his Giselle took threads from the 19th-century ballet, a staple of the classical canon, and transposed it to Ballyfeeny, Co Roscommon. He made the eponymous heroine a lonely local woman caring for her abusive brother, added a Bratislavan line-dancer, and set both the dance and theatre worlds on fire. That was with his company, Fabulous Beast, which he dissolved at the height of its success in 2014, to move to west Kerry and reinvent as Teaċ Daṁsa. Its first production, Swan Lake/Loch na hEala (2016) similarly unravelled and remade myths, won awards and toured from Stuttgart to Sydney, Moscow to London’s Sadler’s Wells.

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Sep 23 2022

Stars align as Teapots finally stage Into the Dark Woods

After several false dawns, Blue Teapot Theatre Company finally got to stage its long-awaited drama, Into the Dark Woods, in the city’s Black Box Theatre last week. A Galway 2020 commission, and written by company member Charlene Kelly, it was originally meant to be presented more than two years ago.

Blue Teapot is made up of actors with intellectual disabilities and Charlene is one of its best-known performers, but this marked her first foray into writing, supported by dramaturg Eileen Gibbons. The production, directed by the company’s Artistic Director Petal Pilley, has done her proud.

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Sep 22 2022

Capturing Martin’s Magic

Christian O’Reilly’s new play No Magic Pill was a slow burner. Now that it’s finally being staged in Dublin and Galway, he has fulfilled a longtime promise to the late disability campaigner Martin Naughton from An Spidéal. Christian tells JUDY MURPHY how this brilliant and contradictory man changed lives and inspired him.

Christian O’Reilly was fresh out of DCU and in need of a job when he first met Martin Naughton, originally from An Spidéal and living in Dublin. Martin, who had muscular dystrophy, was an activist, seeking rights for disabled people and had established an Independent Living group to do this. He needed someone to lobby on their behalf.

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Sep 15 2022

Meeting Martin Naughton

Galway's acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Christian O'Reilly tells us about his latest work, No Magic Pill, inspired by Spiddal's Martin Naughton. The play opens in Galway later this month.

I have wanted to tell this story for 27 years. It started when I replied to a job ad in the DCU newsletter, which had been placed by the Centre for Independent Living (CIL ). I was invited to an interview at the Royal Dublin Hotel. Soon, the door was pushed open and a bearded man in a wheelchair rolled in. A fishing hat sat on his head, a cigarette hung from his lips and he wore a smile on his face. ‘Shake the thumb,’ he told me. This was my first introduction to Martin Naughton.

I soon learnt that CIL was a disability-rights organisation founded by and for disabled people. My perception of disabled people as passive and dependent was shattered by the angry, militant gang of wheelchair-users I met through CIL.

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