Episode 3 The Arts Show


Episode 3

More coverage of the 50th Belfast Festival at Queens with Marie-Louise Muir, featuring a much anticipated new play Paisley & Me with Dan Gordon in the lead role.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to The Arts Show and the second of our specials on

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the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens. We're coming towards the

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end of this year's Festival but there's still a lot to see and do.

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Here's what's coming up tonight. Paisley & Me, the much-anticipated

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second play in the Ulster Trilogy exploring the Big Man's impact on

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our Protestant community opened last week. We meet the team behind

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it. 25 years after his death, celebrated Belfast poet, John

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Hewitt, is remembered at the Festival with readings of his work.

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We explore his legacy. South Africa's Magpie Art Collective,

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known for creating artworks worldwide from discarded items,

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were in Belfast to create their latest piece which they just

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unveiled at Queen's Naughton Gallery. And Grammy-nominated

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American artist, Greg Porter, one of the hottest new acts on the

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international Jazz circuit, made his first appearance at the

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Festival on Sunday. He took time out to give The Arts Show an

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The The National Theatre of Scotland made a huge impact in 2006

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with its award-winning play, Black Watch, about a much-criticised

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military operation in Iraq and the complex decisions taken by the

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soldiers involved. Their latest play, Enquirer, takes a similar

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approach to the recent scandals within the newspaper industry.

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Built from testimony from actual editors and journalists, it

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fictionalises how some reporters embrace dirty or illegal practices,

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while others struggle to find a place for responsible journalism

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within a post-Leveson Industry. Water to think the mail online is

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getting right? Hits is all they care about and they are successful

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because they know their readership is so brilliant. They feed the

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fears of immigration, disease, crime, being fat, getting old, and

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a particularly vicious to women and the readers are women. It's very

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bizarre. I was in New York with a co-director and we were discussing

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the crisis in the press. A lot of our friends, the same age as us,

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are journalists, and they were getting to the early Forties saying

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what is the future for the profession? We realised

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straightaway to make a piece about the newspaper industry needed to be

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immediate and we wanted to be about the voice of the journalists

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themselves. I'll always find myself reading a lot of it. I think it

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brings up the worse than anybody. It's always so negative. I hated.

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Scottish journalist came to my house in London and said we would

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like to talk about what the state of the process is at the moment,

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where we are going, will journalism and newspapers survive? That was on

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the minds of the playwrights as they were tackling the subject.

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Would you work for them? The 20 years ago. It was surprising how

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open the journalists were. It was like we had unleashed something in

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them and given them the opportunity to talk about their profession.

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Nobody is going to believe that Alan did it? What am I going to do?

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I think the shame and anger they felt and the reasons why people had

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become journalists in the first place where good reasons, in order

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to uncover things which needed to be uncovered. Give me your opinion

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of Rebekah Brooks saying, I am the victim of a witch hunt. It's always

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been mother's milk to the Sun newspaper, hasn't it? We didn't

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shirk any of the things we said. We had a lot of conversations with the

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lawyers and there's loads of stuff that is not in it that we could not

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keeping up. 1 N -- whenever somebody was accused, she went for

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them. Then she says to the British nation of shears part of a witch-

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hunt. It is sickening. -- she is. think we have a place for

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rambunctious, robust, Ruud tabloids for so I think that's important.

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But what they need to do is not to intrude on the privacy of people

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unnecessarily and they need to, in terms of methods, news-gathering

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methods, they need to be much more rigorous. Wasn't she involved in

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the searing pain thing? The backing of the mother's phone? -- Sarah

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Payne. I know it exclusive stories come in, I cannot fail to ask where

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they come from. We got a really complex and detailed view of

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journalism and that industry, so we just pieced it together and we

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never thought there was going to be one thesis. We were not saying one

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single thing. We were trying to uncover these questions and throw

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out the debate, really. After the horror stories, the corruption, and

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criminality, it all amounts to nothing because at the end of the

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day, it is a political decision and the politicians are not going to

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take it. Yes, it's like bolting the stable door when the horse has died.

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I'm joined once again by Eithne Shortall, arts writer for The

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Sunday Times, Ireland. And Joe Nawaz, local arts journalist. The

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idea of seeing yourself as a journalist played out in drama, did

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it work? Yes, we were allowed to walk around the desks on the set

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and I recognised my desk and others, people I work with. I thought,

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there was a bit when they interviewed an editor and I thought

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was like my editor. Completely believable. Did you feel of that

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the set landed something to the piece of drama? There was a crowd

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of angry youths just outside lending a topical melodrama to it.

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It was a long dark teatime examination of the media, bleak but

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exhilarating. A whirlwind of travelogue through a day in the

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life of a newsroom, later tonight. Did it make you feel uncomfortable?

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I squirmed slightly, yes. There was a lot of self reflection and

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because it was the testimony of real journalist... It's not just

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about the Leverson Inquiry but the demise of what the reputation of

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the journalists. They were well considered. Stephen Fry at the

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Baftas referred to them as assorted media scum. This and energy there

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and you can see why the play is such a success, because it is

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constantly updated, as well. The they reference the Olympics.

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Journalism is a sexy industry populated by ugly people. I thought

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that was great. Some say a good use for today's newspapers is they

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become tomorrow's fish-and-chip wrappers. Finding a new use for

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what we throw away is what South Africa's Magpie Art Collective do

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every day. They make artworks entirely from reclaimed items to

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highlight environmental responsibility. The Obama White

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House recently acquired two of their string and bottle-top

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chandeliers. They have been in Belfast throughout October working

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with the public on a new sculpture There is a kind of charm and whimsy

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but something quite anachronistic about what we do. We used materials

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people in the art world traditionally kind of denigrate. We

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do something incredibly different with that. Belfast is an amazing

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city. What I find most interesting is it is quite small. We found a

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lot of places in Belfast by purely walking the streets. We arrived and

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immediately started working at the Norton gallery. Quite an exciting

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process to begin with as we saw the bottles and plastics which had been

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collected for us. The next day was to get in there and get these

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pieces prepared, cut up. From there, it has been a slog every day to

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create these waterfalls of plastic, colourful creations, which will now

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grace the Norton gallery with pride. We have achieved something that

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could be called unique. It's not something you see every day. It's

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also about the fact it's a human element to it, and the fact other

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people have gotten involved in the process. I think we have achieved

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all of those objectives. Again, it is subjective. The viewer,

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everybody will have their own I hope that the thought people

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leave wears are what they're going to do the next plastic bottle they

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buy. And to be aware of the fact that the covering, this thing that

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we so easily throw away, as a life beyond just being packaging. Now,

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even in the rough and tumble arena of Northern Ireland politics, few

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people divide opinion quite like the Reverend Ian Paisley. Love or

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hate him, no-one can deny his command as a public figure. A

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controversial new play, Paisley & Me, explores his impact on the

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Unionist community through the experiences of a Protestant family

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and how he affected each individual. Written by Ron Hutchinson and

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produced by Martin Lynch, it's the much-anticipated second play in the

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Ulster Trilogy series. It stars actor Dan Gordon in the lead role.

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Eamonn Mallie has been following I met Ian Paisley in 1976 when I

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went to his home to do interviews. A report develop that day which is

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obtained right until now and perhaps I would no more about the

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man behind the public image than most journalists in this town. He

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towered over Northern Ireland's history for more than 50 years and

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like these cranes, he's something of an icon. This new play is not a

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biopic about Ian Paisley. Essentially, it is the exploration

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of how Ian Paisley divide opinion within the Protestant community.

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For many, he was a hero during the Troubles but to others, he fanned

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the flames of tension between the two communities. Never! Never!

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What else do need to know? How many more facts, and what would you do

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with them? You will put one on top of another and another on top of

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that and then what? You think you have the truth about me? About what

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happened here? What is this play about? Paisley &

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Me is a play that is about a writer grappling with his feelings about

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Ian Paisley and being a Protestant, the family conflicts, the things

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from his own history, wrapped up together and his feelings about Ian

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Paisley. We will bring up some tough questions people would want

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to ask him. Did I single-handedly bring this province to the brink of

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civil war? Did I stand by my rights to lead my followers where I chose

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and chose to lead them down the Falls knowing it would end in a

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riot? My mother and father never agreed about Ian Paisley.

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there's anything you want, anything you need, my door is always open.

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The play has echoes of that argument, me trying to understand

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ultimately what it might have been about. You were in the building

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trade, yes? Ugborough key 50 years. 50 years? Imagine that. -- A

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brickies. How to do avoid turning into a cartoon character? The fact

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that this is a personal story, there is a collision with that man

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in my mind and in my heart that I have had to pursue on the page.

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course, the spotlight will be on I only took the role because I

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thought I could not do it. I am basing my character on the

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impression of him. I am nervous about doing this, I do not mind

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telling you. To some, it may be only a play but it is my life and

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it is his life. I never pulled the wool over your

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eyes. But if you had seen me, Mister, the records are man blown

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here and there. Casting around for answers. Knowing that no one could

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find them but him alone. Knowing that he had to fling the familiar

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no into their faces, or find the voice for... Yes. And to face you,

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because how many more of them had to die before I got to you?

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It is a very thought-provoking play. What emerges here is a whole crisis

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about the identity of the Protestant and you get a sense

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coming through the plight of this considerable paranoia in the

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Protestant mind. What seems very odd to me is, the protagonist, the

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man at the centre of this play, Ian Paisley is the weakest character.

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He is not given any of the great lines, none of the quintessence

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that Paisley captured. His voice did not fit in my opinion. But

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given the philosophical debate behind the thinking of the author,

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I think it is a play that everybody, if possible, should go and see.

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he says one word over me, hit him with that.

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Eithne, there has been huge interest in this play, particularly

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who was going to play Ian Paisley. Dan Gordon got the role, does he

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nail the Big Man? I don't think so. He is not physical enough in his

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stature, whatever your view of Paisley's politics, he is a

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commanding person. You cannot help but listen to him. But for this, I

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was earning in and out of what Dan Gordon was saying and sometimes

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forgetting he was on stage. It is not a biopic of Ian Paisley, it is

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Ron Hutchinson looking back at his own Protestant identity, is it a

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biographical play? I never thought I would feel sorry for in Paisley

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but after watching that, he was reduced to the role of the

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supernatural marriage guidance Council and a sidecar and must -- a

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Psycho analysts. It is too personal, it is to about Ron Hutchinson, and

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not about a larger problem he has experienced personally about trying

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to decipher where he was from, it was specifically about him. Were

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they any moments when he was addressing what it must have been

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like to be young northern Protestant growing up under the

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shadow of Ian Paisley? Not relating to that particular aspect of that

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culture, I can relate to it but it seemed to be unconvincing as a

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piece of theatre. To it is too removed. One Hutchinson, the writer,

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he left Northern Ireland, so the view he is giving of the North

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feels very detached, it does not feel like he was part of it. He has

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the characters picking up the soil and it is hard not to roll your

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eyes. Was there anything you like to back -- was there anything you

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liked about tip? There were some good lines. I did like Ron

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Hutchinson trying to find his own personal identity because Sears

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from Ireland but being Protestant he is not sure he can say he is

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Irish. That is interesting. Another son of Ulster who grappled with

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cultural and political identity was celebrated Belfast poet, John

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Hewitt. This year marks 25 years since his death and the Queens

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Festival has invited three of Ireland's leading poetic voices to

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recite his work at the John Hewitt Bar in Belfast.

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Born in Belfast in 1907, John Hewitt was a poet and essayist, a

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socialist and art curator. During the 19 forties and fifties, he

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broadcast talks about regionalism as it related to the arts. His

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first poetry collection was produced in 1948. In 1957, a

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controversial decision saw him passed over as the top job for the

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director of Belfast Museum and Art Gallery, labelled as he saw it,

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Communist and pro Catholic. He went to Coventry but returned to Belfast

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in 1972 where he would publish seven poetry collections. He is

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remembered as the father figure for up several Irish poets including

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Seamus Heaney. I think it was like October sunlight for the rest of us,

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when this considerable man came back home. Now he was 30 or 40

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years older than us, older than me and Seamus Heaney and Simmons, but

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he was, in his very reserved way, one of the boys. He would come

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drinking with us but only for one or two 1/2 pts. Why do you think

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his memory is so well preserved? addresses the big issues. The

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issues of love and loss, the beauty of nature, the horror of war. All

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the big themes are dealt with by his imagination. It was an old done

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mastic fate when asked by gasp, my father died. No mourners at the

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palace gate... He showed us that art was third to be found in one's

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own backyard, and if you did not know the area around where you live

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to you were not worth knowing yourself. I write for my own kind,

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I do not pitch my voice that every phrase be heard by those... Their

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quality of mind must be withdrawn and still as Moth that answers Moth

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across a roaring Hill. Did he ever talk to you by your poetry?

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talked about my proclivity for turning on a sixpence. I think he

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suggested occasionally that formally I was in danger of

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disappearing up my own fundament. What would he make of you sitting

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in this pub named after him reading poetry? Going for a drink with John

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Hewitt was quite a chaste affair. You would say, what are you having?

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Half a bass, please. And then when he had finished it you would say,

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don't you want another one? No, don't you think it is time we were

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leaving? Name in a bar after John Hewitt is

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like naming a massage parlour after Mother Teresa! I still think he

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would enjoy it if he was sitting way you are now. With a half of a

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bass. This, making it to last a long time.

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He is remembered that is he read? Do you read him? Not so much. He is

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read in a number of institutions, including my own favourite, the

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John Hewitt bar? For You being from Dublin, what does John Hewitt mean

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for you? He is definitely an Ulster poet. The people he influenced were

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coming from Northern Ireland. They would be island of Ireland poets.

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It is all about keeping poetry a life which is what the John Hewitt

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society is about. Is to be keeper of a flame in many ways? Very much.

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He was the curator of the Ulster poetry tradition. And people were

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coming from all over Ireland. He wrote about the death of his father

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and other people read about fathers. And from the rhyme to the rhythm,

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there's been some great gigs in the Festival so far and here with more

:22:19.:22:25.

of his personal recommendations is Ralph McLean.

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Thank you, festival may be winding down but the musical treats keep on

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coming. I was lucky enough to see Van Morrison at the Europa Hotel

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and he plays another gig tomorrow night, it is called Van Morrison's

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Supper Club. It offers some great music from third-man. Whether you

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will get a gravy chip with a great man himself, I cannot say but it

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will be a special night. The so-called Bard of Salford, John

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Cooper Clarke, has been melding poetry and music since the 1970s.

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He is really looking forward to coming back to Belfast. He will be

:23:05.:23:07.

in the White Room at Queen's on Saturday night.

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Finally, those who lack a bit of fun but their Festival, I heartily

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recommend you Czekaj the Dirty Dozen brass Band. These guys are

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the real deal. They will play at the White Room at Queen's tomorrow

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night. A Gemma Hayes makes a trip up to

:23:28.:23:30.

the Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstuart.

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One of my faith - a one of my favourite singer-songwriters bap

:23:37.:23:47.
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Kennedy will be at Crusoe's coffee- shop and then the braid theatre.

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The festival -- Belfast musical week -- Belfast Music Week brings

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together a number of different traditions. And finely, Rufus

:23:59.:24:04.

Wainwright makes a welcome return to Belfast. Get your glad rags on

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and I will see their. Three days of festival like, any

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last minute recommendations? Chana Riley, a performer, has devised a

:24:18.:24:21.

piece telling you what it is like to be deaf -- Shane a Riley. He

:24:21.:24:27.

grew up with deaf parents. Everybody should go and see John

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Cooper Clarke, the post-punk genius. Thank you, Eithne shortall and Joe

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Nawaz. That is almost it for tonight. You can keep up to date

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with more coverage on BBC Radio Ulster each week day, with Festival

:24:46.:24:49.

Desk at 11.55am and 4.55pm and Arts Extra at 6.30pm.

:24:49.:24:53.

I'll be back in a few weeks but we leave you tonight with some music.

:24:53.:24:56.

American Jazz artist, Greg Porter, is one of the hottest emerging

:24:56.:24:58.

talents on the international circuit. His first album, Water,

:24:58.:25:01.

received critical acclaim earning him a Grammy Nomination for Best

:25:01.:25:05.

Jazz Vocal in 2010. He's back with a new album, Be Good, and did his

:25:05.:25:08.

first appearance at the Belfast Festival in The Mac on Sunday. He

:25:08.:25:18.
:25:18.:25:43.

took time out to give The Arts Show # Be Good.

:25:43.:25:53.
:25:53.:25:55.

She would, she could, she pulled my line's tail and caused me pain.

:25:55.:26:00.

She said Lions are made for cages, just to look at and delight, you

:26:00.:26:06.

dare not let them walk around because they might just buy it.

:26:06.:26:15.

She knows what she does, she dances round my cage, and says, Be Good,

:26:15.:26:25.
:26:25.:26:29.

Be Good... Be Good is her name. I trim my

:26:29.:26:39.
:26:39.:26:44.

lion's claws and I cut my main. And I would, if I could, but then woman

:26:44.:26:54.
:26:54.:26:54.

treats me the same. She said, Lions are made for cages, just to look at

:26:54.:26:59.

and delight. You dare not let them walk around because they might just

:26:59.:27:08.

buy it. There she know what she does? When

:27:08.:27:18.
:27:18.:27:52.

# she said Lions are made for cages, just to look at and delight. You

:27:53.:28:02.

More coverage of the 50th Belfast Festival at Queens with Marie-Louise Muir, featuring a much anticipated new play Paisley & Me with Dan Gordon in the lead role, a feature on poet John Hewitt, a new work from the South African Magpie Art Collective, and Enquirer, a play from the National Theatre of Scotland. Music comes from jazz singer Gregory Porter.


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