Home Entertainment Irish arts group Solas Nua brings ‘The Humours of Bandon’ to D.C.

Irish arts group Solas Nua brings ‘The Humours of Bandon’ to D.C.


When the Dublin-based actor and author Margaret Mc Auliffe started performing “The Humours of Bandon,” her solo present about aggressive Irish dancing, she was astonished by theatergoers’ emotional response.

“It actually took me without warning,” says Mc Auliffe, who spells her final identify with an area, the Irish means. “I used to be writing about this very area of interest world, and thought it was too particular to be universally relatable.”

However the play’s portrait of a teenage wannabe-champion dancer, who navigates a scene rife with frenzied ambition and aching disappointment, turned out to have broad enchantment. “If you happen to ever had any exercise that was your entire focus while you had been youthful, and also you not do it, I believe there’s something in right here for you,” the playwright says.

Impressed by Mc Auliffe’s personal 18-year stint as a aggressive Irish dancer, and named for a conventional Irish tune, “Humours” debuted on the Dublin Fringe Pageant in 2016, profitable awards and happening to tour internationally. It performs Might 31 by way of June 11 on the Atlas Performing Arts Heart, the final cease on a North American tour introduced by the D.C.-based modern Irish arts group Solas Nua and Dublin’s Fishamble: The New Play Firm.

Talking by WhatsApp from Cincinnati, Mc Auliffe, 40, mentioned the present’s genesis, context and influence.

(This interview has been edited for size and readability.)

Q: Inform me how this present happened.

A: There was a name for submissions for a program in Eire referred to as “Present in a Bag,” which was an initiative run by Irish Theatre Institute, Dublin Fringe Pageant and Fishamble: The New Play Firm to equip theater makers to create work they may tour simply. I utilized and bought one of many spots.

Q: Might you describe Irish dancing and the championship scene?

A: Irish dancing is a conventional Irish pastime. The entire dancing takes place actually utilizing the underside half of your physique. The higher half of your physique could be very straight, and your arms are down by your sides. In gentle sneakers, you dance your reel, slip jig, single jig, gentle jig for the newbies. In heavy sneakers, you dance your jig, hornpipe, and all the totally different conventional set dances and solo set dances. There are organizations that educate Irish dancing to youngsters for competitions. [“Humours”] is a wealthy panorama of characters: the encouraging, enthusiastic and pushed trainer; the youngsters who excel at one thing that they’ve a ardour for; the adjudicating course of, and the way it can appear honest to some youngsters and unfair to others; and the youngsters that be taught humility in defeat and in profitable.

[The Irish competitive dancing scene] has modified over time. Folks concerned immediately wouldn’t essentially acknowledge all the things that I discuss within the play. These days, the steps that the champions are doing at 17 years of age are world class. You’ll be hard-pressed to search out one thing as spectacular on the Olympics. It is vitally aggressive. We used to bounce in competitions the place there could be 20 or 30 individuals in your reel. Now, there will be over 100.

Q: Why the surge in curiosity?

A: “Riverdance” opened up Irish dancing to the world following the Eurovision Tune Contest in 1994 [when a dance performed by Michael Flatley, Jean Butler and others wowed viewers and became the seed of the international dance phenomenon]. I bear in mind going to Irish dancing class after I had seen “Riverdance” and my trainer saying, “Issues are going to vary.” They usually did. You had a profession in dance [as an option] that you just didn’t have earlier than.

From the archives: ‘Riverdance’ and the Ireland sensation

Q: What was the most important problem about this challenge for you?

A: I bear in mind sitting at my laptop computer and remembering my relationship with my trainer for the sections the place I’m enjoying her. There have been tears working down my cheeks. It was such a cathartic expertise for me. [Irish dancing] had been my entire life for years. I realized it after I was 5. I retired after I was 23, after which I opened up an Irish dancing faculty with a good friend. Once I turned disillusioned, I didn’t have the center to inform anyone. Writing the play was my means of letting go. I’ve had individuals come as much as me and say, “You actually introduced me again to my outdated swimming meets,” or “My outdated piano trainer was identical to your Irish dancing trainer.” They had been struck with this sense of guilt that they’d fallen out of ardour with what, on the tender age of 15, was their entire life.

Q: Do you dance within the present?

A: My director [Stefanie Preissner] determined to pepper it by way of — a flash of it right here and there — however to not go full welly [i.e., all in] till the tip, to have the viewers guessing as as to if or not I may really dance. The ending is a decision for each the protagonist and the viewers, concurrently. Stefanie has a eager eye for what makes good theater.

Q: Does the present go over in a different way right here than in Eire?

A: At house, there’s a way of guilt individuals really feel once they see the present that they by no means stated goodbye to their former trainer. Over right here, we’ve been touring principally Irish arts facilities. The weather of the present that folks actually determine with are the accents, the phrasing. They get a nostalgic hit. I carried out this play in Manhattan. Jean Butler — in Irish dancing circles, a giant superstar — afterwards got here as much as me and stated, “All of them suppose it is a comedy, however I do know this isn’t a comedy!” I felt so seen. It’s a humorous play, however to make it humorous, I’ve to recollect the disappointments and actually get upset.

Atlas Performing Arts Heart, 1333 H St. NE. solasnua.org.

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