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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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.

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