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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Hello and welcome to The Arts Show and the second of our specials on
the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens. We're coming towards the
end of this year's Festival but there's still a lot to see and do.
Here's what's coming up tonight. Paisley & Me, the much-anticipated
second play in the Ulster Trilogy exploring the Big Man's impact on
our Protestant community opened last week. We meet the team behind
it. 25 years after his death, celebrated Belfast poet, John
Hewitt, is remembered at the Festival with readings of his work.
We explore his legacy. South Africa's Magpie Art Collective,
known for creating artworks worldwide from discarded items,
were in Belfast to create their latest piece which they just
unveiled at Queen's Naughton Gallery. And Grammy-nominated
American artist, Greg Porter, one of the hottest new acts on the
international Jazz circuit, made his first appearance at the
Festival on Sunday. He took time out to give The Arts Show an
The The National Theatre of Scotland made a huge impact in 2006
with its award-winning play, Black Watch, about a much-criticised
military operation in Iraq and the complex decisions taken by the
soldiers involved. Their latest play, Enquirer, takes a similar
approach to the recent scandals within the newspaper industry.
Built from testimony from actual editors and journalists, it
fictionalises how some reporters embrace dirty or illegal practices,
while others struggle to find a place for responsible journalism
within a post-Leveson Industry. Water to think the mail online is
getting right? Hits is all they care about and they are successful
because they know their readership is so brilliant. They feed the
fears of immigration, disease, crime, being fat, getting old, and
a particularly vicious to women and the readers are women. It's very
bizarre. I was in New York with a co-director and we were discussing
the crisis in the press. A lot of our friends, the same age as us,
are journalists, and they were getting to the early Forties saying
what is the future for the profession? We realised
straightaway to make a piece about the newspaper industry needed to be
immediate and we wanted to be about the voice of the journalists
themselves. I'll always find myself reading a lot of it. I think it
brings up the worse than anybody. It's always so negative. I hated.
Scottish journalist came to my house in London and said we would
like to talk about what the state of the process is at the moment,
where we are going, will journalism and newspapers survive? That was on
the minds of the playwrights as they were tackling the subject.
Would you work for them? The 20 years ago. It was surprising how
open the journalists were. It was like we had unleashed something in
them and given them the opportunity to talk about their profession.
Nobody is going to believe that Alan did it? What am I going to do?
I think the shame and anger they felt and the reasons why people had
become journalists in the first place where good reasons, in order
to uncover things which needed to be uncovered. Give me your opinion
of Rebekah Brooks saying, I am the victim of a witch hunt. It's always
been mother's milk to the Sun newspaper, hasn't it? We didn't
shirk any of the things we said. We had a lot of conversations with the
lawyers and there's loads of stuff that is not in it that we could not
keeping up. 1 N -- whenever somebody was accused, she went for
them. Then she says to the British nation of shears part of a witch-
hunt. It is sickening. -- she is. think we have a place for
rambunctious, robust, Ruud tabloids for so I think that's important.
But what they need to do is not to intrude on the privacy of people
unnecessarily and they need to, in terms of methods, news-gathering
methods, they need to be much more rigorous. Wasn't she involved in
the searing pain thing? The backing of the mother's phone? -- Sarah
Payne. I know it exclusive stories come in, I cannot fail to ask where
they come from. We got a really complex and detailed view of
journalism and that industry, so we just pieced it together and we
never thought there was going to be one thesis. We were not saying one
single thing. We were trying to uncover these questions and throw
out the debate, really. After the horror stories, the corruption, and
criminality, it all amounts to nothing because at the end of the
day, it is a political decision and the politicians are not going to
take it. Yes, it's like bolting the stable door when the horse has died.
I'm joined once again by Eithne Shortall, arts writer for The
Sunday Times, Ireland. And Joe Nawaz, local arts journalist. The
idea of seeing yourself as a journalist played out in drama, did
it work? Yes, we were allowed to walk around the desks on the set
and I recognised my desk and others, people I work with. I thought,
there was a bit when they interviewed an editor and I thought
was like my editor. Completely believable. Did you feel of that
the set landed something to the piece of drama? There was a crowd
of angry youths just outside lending a topical melodrama to it.
It was a long dark teatime examination of the media, bleak but
exhilarating. A whirlwind of travelogue through a day in the
life of a newsroom, later tonight. Did it make you feel uncomfortable?
I squirmed slightly, yes. There was a lot of self reflection and
because it was the testimony of real journalist... It's not just
about the Leverson Inquiry but the demise of what the reputation of
the journalists. They were well considered. Stephen Fry at the
Baftas referred to them as assorted media scum. This and energy there
and you can see why the play is such a success, because it is
constantly updated, as well. The they reference the Olympics.
Journalism is a sexy industry populated by ugly people. I thought
that was great. Some say a good use for today's newspapers is they
become tomorrow's fish-and-chip wrappers. Finding a new use for
what we throw away is what South Africa's Magpie Art Collective do
every day. They make artworks entirely from reclaimed items to
highlight environmental responsibility. The Obama White
House recently acquired two of their string and bottle-top
chandeliers. They have been in Belfast throughout October working
with the public on a new sculpture There is a kind of charm and whimsy
but something quite anachronistic about what we do. We used materials
people in the art world traditionally kind of denigrate. We
do something incredibly different with that. Belfast is an amazing
city. What I find most interesting is it is quite small. We found a
lot of places in Belfast by purely walking the streets. We arrived and
immediately started working at the Norton gallery. Quite an exciting
process to begin with as we saw the bottles and plastics which had been
collected for us. The next day was to get in there and get these
pieces prepared, cut up. From there, it has been a slog every day to
create these waterfalls of plastic, colourful creations, which will now
grace the Norton gallery with pride. We have achieved something that
could be called unique. It's not something you see every day. It's
also about the fact it's a human element to it, and the fact other
people have gotten involved in the process. I think we have achieved
all of those objectives. Again, it is subjective. The viewer,
everybody will have their own I hope that the thought people
leave wears are what they're going to do the next plastic bottle they
buy. And to be aware of the fact that the covering, this thing that
we so easily throw away, as a life beyond just being packaging. Now,
even in the rough and tumble arena of Northern Ireland politics, few
people divide opinion quite like the Reverend Ian Paisley. Love or
hate him, no-one can deny his command as a public figure. A
controversial new play, Paisley & Me, explores his impact on the
Unionist community through the experiences of a Protestant family
and how he affected each individual. Written by Ron Hutchinson and
produced by Martin Lynch, it's the much-anticipated second play in the
Ulster Trilogy series. It stars actor Dan Gordon in the lead role.
Eamonn Mallie has been following I met Ian Paisley in 1976 when I
went to his home to do interviews. A report develop that day which is
obtained right until now and perhaps I would no more about the
man behind the public image than most journalists in this town. He
towered over Northern Ireland's history for more than 50 years and
like these cranes, he's something of an icon. This new play is not a
biopic about Ian Paisley. Essentially, it is the exploration
of how Ian Paisley divide opinion within the Protestant community.
For many, he was a hero during the Troubles but to others, he fanned
the flames of tension between the two communities. Never! Never!
What else do need to know? How many more facts, and what would you do
with them? You will put one on top of another and another on top of
that and then what? You think you have the truth about me? About what
happened here? What is this play about? Paisley &
Me is a play that is about a writer grappling with his feelings about
Ian Paisley and being a Protestant, the family conflicts, the things
from his own history, wrapped up together and his feelings about Ian
Paisley. We will bring up some tough questions people would want
to ask him. Did I single-handedly bring this province to the brink of
civil war? Did I stand by my rights to lead my followers where I chose
and chose to lead them down the Falls knowing it would end in a
riot? My mother and father never agreed about Ian Paisley.
there's anything you want, anything you need, my door is always open.
The play has echoes of that argument, me trying to understand
ultimately what it might have been about. You were in the building
trade, yes? Ugborough key 50 years. 50 years? Imagine that. -- A
brickies. How to do avoid turning into a cartoon character? The fact
that this is a personal story, there is a collision with that man
in my mind and in my heart that I have had to pursue on the page.
course, the spotlight will be on I only took the role because I
thought I could not do it. I am basing my character on the
impression of him. I am nervous about doing this, I do not mind
telling you. To some, it may be only a play but it is my life and
it is his life. I never pulled the wool over your
eyes. But if you had seen me, Mister, the records are man blown
here and there. Casting around for answers. Knowing that no one could
find them but him alone. Knowing that he had to fling the familiar
no into their faces, or find the voice for... Yes. And to face you,
because how many more of them had to die before I got to you?
It is a very thought-provoking play. What emerges here is a whole crisis
about the identity of the Protestant and you get a sense
coming through the plight of this considerable paranoia in the
Protestant mind. What seems very odd to me is, the protagonist, the
man at the centre of this play, Ian Paisley is the weakest character.
He is not given any of the great lines, none of the quintessence
that Paisley captured. His voice did not fit in my opinion. But
given the philosophical debate behind the thinking of the author,
I think it is a play that everybody, if possible, should go and see.
he says one word over me, hit him with that.
Eithne, there has been huge interest in this play, particularly
who was going to play Ian Paisley. Dan Gordon got the role, does he
nail the Big Man? I don't think so. He is not physical enough in his
stature, whatever your view of Paisley's politics, he is a
commanding person. You cannot help but listen to him. But for this, I
was earning in and out of what Dan Gordon was saying and sometimes
forgetting he was on stage. It is not a biopic of Ian Paisley, it is
Ron Hutchinson looking back at his own Protestant identity, is it a
biographical play? I never thought I would feel sorry for in Paisley
but after watching that, he was reduced to the role of the
supernatural marriage guidance Council and a sidecar and must -- a
Psycho analysts. It is too personal, it is to about Ron Hutchinson, and
not about a larger problem he has experienced personally about trying
to decipher where he was from, it was specifically about him. Were
they any moments when he was addressing what it must have been
like to be young northern Protestant growing up under the
shadow of Ian Paisley? Not relating to that particular aspect of that
culture, I can relate to it but it seemed to be unconvincing as a
piece of theatre. To it is too removed. One Hutchinson, the writer,
he left Northern Ireland, so the view he is giving of the North
feels very detached, it does not feel like he was part of it. He has
the characters picking up the soil and it is hard not to roll your
eyes. Was there anything you like to back -- was there anything you
liked about tip? There were some good lines. I did like Ron
Hutchinson trying to find his own personal identity because Sears
from Ireland but being Protestant he is not sure he can say he is
Irish. That is interesting. Another son of Ulster who grappled with
cultural and political identity was celebrated Belfast poet, John
Hewitt. This year marks 25 years since his death and the Queens
Festival has invited three of Ireland's leading poetic voices to
recite his work at the John Hewitt Bar in Belfast.
Born in Belfast in 1907, John Hewitt was a poet and essayist, a
socialist and art curator. During the 19 forties and fifties, he
broadcast talks about regionalism as it related to the arts. His
first poetry collection was produced in 1948. In 1957, a
controversial decision saw him passed over as the top job for the
director of Belfast Museum and Art Gallery, labelled as he saw it,
Communist and pro Catholic. He went to Coventry but returned to Belfast
in 1972 where he would publish seven poetry collections. He is
remembered as the father figure for up several Irish poets including
Seamus Heaney. I think it was like October sunlight for the rest of us,
when this considerable man came back home. Now he was 30 or 40
years older than us, older than me and Seamus Heaney and Simmons, but
he was, in his very reserved way, one of the boys. He would come
drinking with us but only for one or two 1/2 pts. Why do you think
his memory is so well preserved? addresses the big issues. The
issues of love and loss, the beauty of nature, the horror of war. All
the big themes are dealt with by his imagination. It was an old done
mastic fate when asked by gasp, my father died. No mourners at the
palace gate... He showed us that art was third to be found in one's
own backyard, and if you did not know the area around where you live
to you were not worth knowing yourself. I write for my own kind,
I do not pitch my voice that every phrase be heard by those... Their
quality of mind must be withdrawn and still as Moth that answers Moth
across a roaring Hill. Did he ever talk to you by your poetry?
talked about my proclivity for turning on a sixpence. I think he
suggested occasionally that formally I was in danger of
disappearing up my own fundament. What would he make of you sitting
in this pub named after him reading poetry? Going for a drink with John
Hewitt was quite a chaste affair. You would say, what are you having?
Half a bass, please. And then when he had finished it you would say,
don't you want another one? No, don't you think it is time we were
leaving? Name in a bar after John Hewitt is
like naming a massage parlour after Mother Teresa! I still think he
would enjoy it if he was sitting way you are now. With a half of a
bass. This, making it to last a long time.
He is remembered that is he read? Do you read him? Not so much. He is
read in a number of institutions, including my own favourite, the
John Hewitt bar? For You being from Dublin, what does John Hewitt mean
for you? He is definitely an Ulster poet. The people he influenced were
coming from Northern Ireland. They would be island of Ireland poets.
It is all about keeping poetry a life which is what the John Hewitt
society is about. Is to be keeper of a flame in many ways? Very much.
He was the curator of the Ulster poetry tradition. And people were
coming from all over Ireland. He wrote about the death of his father
and other people read about fathers. And from the rhyme to the rhythm,
there's been some great gigs in the Festival so far and here with more
of his personal recommendations is Ralph McLean.
Thank you, festival may be winding down but the musical treats keep on
coming. I was lucky enough to see Van Morrison at the Europa Hotel
and he plays another gig tomorrow night, it is called Van Morrison's
Supper Club. It offers some great music from third-man. Whether you
will get a gravy chip with a great man himself, I cannot say but it
will be a special night. The so-called Bard of Salford, John
Cooper Clarke, has been melding poetry and music since the 1970s.
He is really looking forward to coming back to Belfast. He will be
in the White Room at Queen's on Saturday night.
Finally, those who lack a bit of fun but their Festival, I heartily
recommend you Czekaj the Dirty Dozen brass Band. These guys are
the real deal. They will play at the White Room at Queen's tomorrow
night. A Gemma Hayes makes a trip up to
the Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstuart.
One of my faith - a one of my favourite singer-songwriters bap
Kennedy will be at Crusoe's coffee- shop and then the braid theatre.
The festival -- Belfast musical week -- Belfast Music Week brings
together a number of different traditions. And finely, Rufus
Wainwright makes a welcome return to Belfast. Get your glad rags on
and I will see their. Three days of festival like, any
last minute recommendations? Chana Riley, a performer, has devised a
piece telling you what it is like to be deaf -- Shane a Riley. He
grew up with deaf parents. Everybody should go and see John
Cooper Clarke, the post-punk genius. Thank you, Eithne shortall and Joe
Nawaz. That is almost it for tonight. You can keep up to date
with more coverage on BBC Radio Ulster each week day, with Festival
Desk at 11.55am and 4.55pm and Arts Extra at 6.30pm.
I'll be back in a few weeks but we leave you tonight with some music.
American Jazz artist, Greg Porter, is one of the hottest emerging
talents on the international circuit. His first album, Water,
received critical acclaim earning him a Grammy Nomination for Best
Jazz Vocal in 2010. He's back with a new album, Be Good, and did his
first appearance at the Belfast Festival in The Mac on Sunday. He
took time out to give The Arts Show # Be Good.
She would, she could, she pulled my line's tail and caused me pain.
She said Lions are made for cages, just to look at and delight, you
dare not let them walk around because they might just buy it.
She knows what she does, she dances round my cage, and says, Be Good,
Be Good... Be Good is her name. I trim my
lion's claws and I cut my main. And I would, if I could, but then woman
treats me the same. She said, Lions are made for cages, just to look at
and delight. You dare not let them walk around because they might just
buy it. There she know what she does? When
# she said Lions are made for cages, just to look at and delight. You
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.