Episode 2 The Arts Show


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Episode 2

In this month's programme, actor Simon Callow investigates Orson Welles's early career in Ireland to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Citizen Kane.


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Armagh City, with its cobbled streets

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and Georgian architecture,

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has almost got a time-capsule feel to it.

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You can imagine Jonathan Swift dreaming up Lilliput

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between its twin spires,

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or poet Paul Muldoon coming into the big smoke to hang out.

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Near the ancient capital of Ulster, it's a place where culture

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and history collide, a worthy place for The Arts Show.

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Here's what's coming up.

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Citizen O'Kane - was Orson Welles inspired by Ireland?

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National treasure Simon Callow investigates.

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Creator of that Che Guevara poster,

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Jim Fitzpatrick on the making of a global icon.

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We mark the welcome return of pianist Ruth McGinley,

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and poet Paul Muldoon reads a classic.

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I'm on Twitter now.

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Well, as debuts go, Citizen Kane, by Orson Welles,

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released 75 years ago this year, was a pretty decent start.

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He's still regarded as one of the greatest cultural

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figures of the 20th century,

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but did you know that his illustrious stage career

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was book-ended by Ireland?

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Actor and Welles scholar Simon Callow investigates.

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'Rosebud...'

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One of the most recognisable props in the history of the cinema,

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the snow globe that contains

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the secrets of Charles Foster Kane's mysterious life.

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Citizen Kane, 1941.

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20 years later, in 1960, as Orson Welles stood on the stage

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of Belfast Grand Opera House,

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he must've felt that it was a lifetime ago.

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We have heard the chimes at midnight...

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A plague on all cowards, still say I!

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A vengeance too!

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Now comes in the sweetest morsel of the night.

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My King! My Jove!

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Speak to me, my heart.

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The voice of Orson Welles in what is

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certainly his most personal and perhaps his greatest work,

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Chimes At Midnight,

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which had its world premiere here on stage in Belfast in 1960.

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He played Shakespeare's great character, Sir John Falstaff.

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The broadcaster and actor Denis Tuohy appeared alongside

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Welles in the production.

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It was an extraordinary experience,

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and it came about simply because I was an out-of-work actor,

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and a friend of mine rang up and said,

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"You've heard Orson Welles is coming to Belfast?" I said, "Of course,

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"and the cast are English or some from Dublin."

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"Ah, yes, but they need extras."

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And with one or two friends, we came along and we were

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chosen as spear-carriers, ruffians in the bar room scenes, and so on.

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I was going to be paid £10, I was told, for the week,

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and I would somehow have rustled up £10 and paid THEM

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in order to be that close to the great man.

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In the silence where we are now, I can hear that extraordinary voice,

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that deep, booming voice.

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The humour that was in it, occasionally the aggression,

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some of the aggression came out during the rehearsal

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and was directed towards the director.

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He would, literally, say, "I think we need a different costume

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"for that servant over there," and things would stop

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while wardrobe attempted to see if there was a different costume.

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The dress rehearsal lasted for about 12 hours, from 6pm till about 6am.

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Did you get a chance to actually get a sense of Welles's

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own performance as Falstaff?

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I thought it was very fine indeed,

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and it was a part that you would say the man was born to play.

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But Chimes At Midnight wasn't the first time Welles had trodden

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the boards in Ireland.

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In fact, he made his professional stage debut in Dublin in 1931

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at the age of 16.

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I'd come to Ireland not to act but to be a painter.

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I'd always wanted to be a painter

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and in the spring of that year, I'd arrived,

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bought the donkey and cart, travelled about Connemara.

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Welles said that he made quite an impact on chaste, Catholic,

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early-20th-century Ireland.

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"Poor virgin ladies," as he put it, "waiting to get married."

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Later, he claimed that the local priest,

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after one too many confessions, had drawn him to one side

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and asked him if he was thinking of leaving any time soon.

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I found myself in Dublin in the autumn of that year

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without what are technically referred to as financial resources.

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I had a few shillings, but I blew those on a good dinner

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and a ticket to the theatre. The theatre was the Gate,

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and on the stage I recognised, in a minor part,

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a young fellow that I had known in the west of Ireland,

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and he introduced me to the directors,

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Edwards and MacLiammoir, and I heard myself introducing

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myself to them as a noted actor from the Broadway stage.

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A bold lie indeed.

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For some reason, they gave me the job. It was a very good part.

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I'd intimated that I was willing to stay on in Ireland

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if sufficiently interesting roles could be found.

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The interesting role was the Archduke Karl Auguste

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in the play Jew Suss, but, for Welles,

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this was his first encounter with the notorious Dublin

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first-night audience, always ready to speak their mind.

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As the Archduke, he had to say lecherously,

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"A bride fit for Solomon, he had 1,000 wives, did he not?"

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At which he was interrupted

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by a voice from the fifth row of the stalls saying...

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"That's a dirty, black Protestant lie."

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Despite the interruption, or perhaps because of it,

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Welles's performance was a triumph.

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Dublin adored the young pretender,

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but the novelty soon wore off.

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The parts got smaller and less interesting.

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So, he attempted to go to England, for its higher-profile stages,

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but he was refused a work permit, so he trailed back to America,

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disappointed. Before long, however,

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he had embarked on one of the most thrilling

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creative journeys of the 20th century.

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'People in the streets see it now.

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'They're running towards the East River, thousands of them.

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'The smoke's spreading faster. It's reached Times Square...'

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Welles's cheekily brilliant adaptation of HG Wells's

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War Of The Worlds brought him Hollywood's attention,

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a path which led to the making of his masterpiece,

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Citizen Kane, his first film, a revolutionary

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achievement in the history of the cinema.

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"There is no war in Cuba," signed Wheeler. Any answer?

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Yes. Dear Wheeler,

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you provide the prose poems,

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I'll provide the war.

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-That's fine, Mr Kane.

-Yes, I rather like it myself.

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Send it right away.

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For me, it is still one of the most important films ever made,

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not only Gregg Toland's fantastic deep-focus photography,

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not only decades before Robert Altman and people like that,

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he was using overlapping dialogue,

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not only in the use of scenes that contained ceilings -

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these are all part of a vision, a view,

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that I think summed up the way in which the man

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took on throughout his life a series of tasks

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that were monumental, they weren't always successful,

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but in Kane, it was successful.

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Of course, Charles Foster Kane himself starts as a radical

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so, in a sense, it charts the decline

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and decay of radicalism in one individual.

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I think that this runs through a lot of his work

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and in Chimes At Midnight,

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we get the whole panoply of English history fed through

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five pieces of Shakespeare but, at the same time, it's an intensely

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human thing about getting old, about your dreams being a bubble.

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Throw that junk.

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DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS

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75 years after the release of his towering masterpiece,

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one can still glimpse the seeds sown on the stages of Ireland,

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putting him on a path that would lead to

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the heights of artistic achievement.

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'Rosebud...'

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I'm at the Market Place Theatre in Armagh for an exhibition

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of art by UK and Irish artists.

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The Art of Craft,

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in association with the Craft and Design Collective,

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runs until 25th June, and talking of art, in 1968,

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a young Dublin artist created an image of revolutionary

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hero Che Guevara which, way before the internet, went viral.

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Jim Fitzpatrick didn't stop there,

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going on to redefine rock imagery and Celtic mythology.

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The Arts Show met him at his home on the shores of North Dublin.

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So, this is the desk on which

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so much of Jim Fitzpatrick's work has been created.

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Che Guevara has to be THE most iconic image,

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and in here you've got the original.

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The original is there. Do you want to have a look at it?

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It's not as impressive as you think. It's quite small.

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But it's the real thing.

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There we are. Now, that is what is called an overlay.

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There was no Photoshop back then.

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Everything was done by hand, so that is the original,

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black and white pen and ink,

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and then you gave the printer an overlay

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to show where everything fell, in terms of colour.

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That way, you didn't add colour to the face.

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I always liked the face white.

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You see a lot of rip-offs of it with the face, everything in red.

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I like them standing out more.

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So, this was important here...

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They're my instructions to the printer at the time.

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And the yellow star, that was added by hand. Magic marker.

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Because I couldn't afford to print an extra colour.

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And also, you notice my signature here.

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That was my hidden signature, and that's significant,

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because when Andy Warhol did his famous Warhol Che,

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he was kind enough to leave my name on it, my logo,

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and the Warhol Institute have re-accredited the Warhol to me,

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so I own the Warhol.

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When you decide you're going to proliferate something,

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it's the opposite of control.

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I wanted everybody to see this image.

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He had been murdered as a prisoner of war. I was outraged,

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and I decided I was going to do something to remember the man

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and, luckily, in London at the time, there was an exhibition,

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Viva Che, in May of 1968, and they asked me to do a poster for that

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and they showed my other Che work, and that's what I did that for.

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So it was a political statement?

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A political statement. Totally.

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And I was very determined that it would be copyright free.

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I announced that I wanted this to go right across the world

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and anybody could use it. It still is.

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You can download all my work free, print it out,

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but you can't resell it.

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But you could have led a very different life.

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I could have been filthy rich.

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That's essentially what I'm trying to say here.

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Instead of being filthy broke.

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Well, you're sitting with one of THE most iconic images of all time.

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It is up there with Coke, with the image of Christ,

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with the image of Mona Lisa, you know?

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I'm well aware of that. I'm not as stupid as I look.

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I'm very proud of it.

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I'm very proud that there is a book out that has

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Mona Lisa at number five and Che at number six

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in the greatest images of all time, so...

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You can't take it with you!

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The Che Guevara image is somewhat different in style

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from the other work for which Jim is noted,

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such as such as his album art for legendary Irish rockers

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Thin Lizzy, and his elaborately detailed work

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inspired by the Irish Celtic tradition.

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What I was trying to do was make Irish people aware of

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the extraordinary heritage they had, in terms of mythology.

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A lot of people... Like Philip Lynott of Thin Lizzy was doing it

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with music, Christy Moore I worked with as well.

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I did a cover for him. He was doing it in folk music,

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but I was trying to do it in an artistic way.

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So, can you show me...?

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I mean, this is incredible for me,

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to sit at this desk with this work in progress.

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Can you show me what you do?

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Well, essentially, it is a black-and-white line drawing.

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I've drawn it already. I've traced everything off first

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to get everything right. That's the way it works.

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And, you know, the only blank space left is this breastplate,

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so what I do normally is I just sketch something in,

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right, in this case maybe the face of one of those Celtic gods

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with the moustache, the big beard and all this kind of stuff.

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I know this looks very simplistic but, with time,

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like in ten minutes, I can turn that into something interesting,

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and then I redraw it in pen and ink.

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So, you basically get it down here and then sketch over it

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whenever you feel happy with it.

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Then I have to paint the whole thing.

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I don't think anybody has ever let us see an unfinished work before,

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Jim. I feel very privileged. Sit yourself down again.

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-Okey doke.

-Very privileged that you've allowed us

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this kind of very intimate access to a Jim Fitzpatrick.

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And it's funny, because I am looking at this fella

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and thinking, "Right, Celtic god, rock god," but in fact the work

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that you then did with Thin Lizzy, you made THEM look like rock gods.

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What was it about Thin Lizzy...?

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Philip was like me, he was in love with Celtic mythology.

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He loved mythology.

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MUSIC: Roisin Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend by Thin Lizzy

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Black Rose, we worked on the sleeve loads together,

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about Cu Chulainn, and instead of being like a shining star, you know,

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he wanted to be like Cu Chulainn,

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wanted to be a comet - blaze across the sky

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and have a wonderful ending, you know?

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Philip kind of bought into that big time, too much big time actually.

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Do you feel that you're very much a part of the....not so much

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the sound of Thin Lizzy, but that the Thin Lizzy that we see visually?

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Oh, the imagery? Yeah.

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I did a lot of really cool portraits of Philip as well.

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I loved painting Philip. Every now and then I do a new one.

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I love painting Philip. He was such an iconic figure.

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It was a gift to me, as an artist, to be presented with a guy

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who looked like something that you could just draw forever.

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MUSIC: Whiskey In The Jar by Thin Lizzy

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Jim's latest work sees him return to the political arena, remembering

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the seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation in this centenary year.

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The trick is to use something that is already almost iconic itself.

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So, that's what I did with Connelly.

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Connelly is the one I'm most proud of. I was only going to do Connelly.

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I wanted to do something for 1916, and Connelly is my hero.

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And I'm trying to make it even more iconic than it already is, and I'm

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doing exactly what I did with Che - you can download free -

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and there is Markievicz. There's a good example of what I do.

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In other words, I've taken a very iconic black-and-white photograph

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of Markievicz, I've used this reference from a Polish painter,

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it was the only one I could find of her,

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and I've kind of recreated her to give that kind of iconic look.

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So I have invented a lot of what's there.

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What do you feel has been the most defining image of your career?

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Oh, the Che, obviously. That is the obvious one.

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If I was to look back and say I want one image to define me,

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it would probably be that Celtic goddess in the red dress

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with the wolfhound, Boann,

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because that's probably the finest

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of those kind of quasi-Celtic works I did.

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Some of the work on the Book Of Conquests, The Silver Arm,

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I'm proud of all the stuff I did.

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Jim Fitzpatrick, it has been an honour to meet you.

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-Thank you so much.

-Not at all. My pleasure.

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Now to a County Armagh-born poet who is more used, these days,

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to hanging out on the Upper East side of Manhattan.

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Paul Muldoon is our street corner poet this month.

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He was home recently in his role

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as patron of the John O'Connor Writing School.

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Why Brownlee Left.

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Why Brownlee left and where he went

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Is a mystery even now

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For if a man should have been content

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It was him - two acres of barley

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One of potatoes, four bullocks

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A milker, a slated farmhouse

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He was last seen going out to plough

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On a March morning, bright and early

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By noon Brownlee was famous

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They had found all abandoned, with

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The last rig unbroken, his pair of black

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Horses, like man and wife

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Shifting their weight from foot to

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Foot, and gazing into the future.

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Classical pianist Ruth McGinley

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should have been a household name by now.

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After a meteoric start to her career, she all but vanished

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but now returns to the spotlight with her debut album Reconnection.

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I met up with Ruth in our home town of Derry to hear her story.

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Did you always know that you were going to play the piano?

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I did. Yeah, for sure.

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I mean, I started playing really young,

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like before I was three years old.

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My mum was a piano teacher, my two sisters were musicians,

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so there was always piano at home.

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I remember you being so small in a competition that you were actually

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lifted onto the stool, and your feet could barely touch the pedals.

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You were... You were a prodigy.

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Well, I dislike the word "prodigy".

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-You dislike it?

-I do, I do.

-OK.

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I do. I loved playing the piano.

0:22:280:22:31

I always go back to, I think I was just a little girl who enjoyed

0:22:310:22:34

playing the piano, and that was it, you know?

0:22:340:22:37

Prodigy or not, yes, I was playing bigger pieces

0:22:370:22:40

when I was younger,

0:22:400:22:41

but when I was nine I got a scholarship to

0:22:410:22:44

go down to the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin,

0:22:440:22:47

so I suppose the trips to Dublin every weekend,

0:22:470:22:50

that was pretty much putting myself...that things were going to

0:22:500:22:53

be different, but I remember myself, when I was about 14,

0:22:530:22:57

and I'd entered the BBC Young Musician of the Year, I do remember

0:22:570:23:01

very clearly in my head thinking, "Right, this is for me,"

0:23:010:23:05

and I really started working hard at that stage.

0:23:050:23:08

It is the cordially unanimous opinion of all three of us

0:23:080:23:12

that the winner of the keyboard section,

0:23:120:23:15

who will go forward to the concerto final,

0:23:150:23:18

is Ruth McGinley.

0:23:180:23:20

As well as winning her section of the competition,

0:23:200:23:24

Ruth's journey was the subject of a behind-the-scenes documentary.

0:23:240:23:28

So, in five years' time, I'd just like to be travelling the world...

0:23:300:23:33

Travelling the world, giving concerts all over the place.

0:23:330:23:37

That's a dream.

0:23:370:23:38

Her star was very much in the ascendancy...

0:23:410:23:44

From Derry/Londonderry, Miss Ruth McGinley!

0:23:440:23:48

But the pressures of performing at this level eventually

0:23:540:23:58

took their toll.

0:23:580:23:59

Everybody expected Ruth McGinley to become the next Barry Douglas.

0:23:590:24:06

Then you seemed to disappear. Where did you go?

0:24:060:24:09

It's always good to keep an air of mystery about you!

0:24:090:24:13

I followed the path,

0:24:130:24:15

went to London to the Royal Academy of Music.

0:24:150:24:17

Do you know, I found whenever...

0:24:170:24:20

I was in my second year of academy, so about 19, 20,

0:24:200:24:23

that I really started questioning myself.

0:24:230:24:26

Maybe it was being in London surrounded by the most

0:24:260:24:29

wonderful pianists in the world. I questioned my ability,

0:24:290:24:33

I questioned whether I wanted to do this any more,

0:24:330:24:35

in terms of the lifestyle, because it had been so intense

0:24:350:24:38

for so, so many years, and I had gone through some personal issues.

0:24:380:24:42

It just didn't feel good for me any more.

0:24:420:24:44

So I had to take a step back for a number of years.

0:24:440:24:47

I came back from London to Derry about 12 years ago,

0:24:560:24:59

and I was a single mum when I came back,

0:24:590:25:02

so I started living life as a mum, as somebody who didn't have

0:25:020:25:07

to pour themselves into the piano all the time, and that was really

0:25:070:25:12

important for just my development, I suppose, as a human being.

0:25:120:25:16

I did feel for a few years that I had sort of failed

0:25:160:25:19

because I wasn't out there doing what had been planned for me,

0:25:190:25:24

in a way. I would still practise

0:25:240:25:25

because that's what I knew how to do, but I would cry a lot

0:25:250:25:29

at the piano when I was angry with it, and I had to move myself away.

0:25:290:25:33

So, a new album, a debut album no less, at the glorious age of 39.

0:26:230:26:29

Why now?

0:26:290:26:31

Why not?!

0:26:310:26:33

Well, you know, I've never actually recorded a solo album before.

0:26:330:26:38

There are recordings from concerts that I've done over the years.

0:26:380:26:42

I suppose, over the last number of years,

0:26:420:26:45

I really started doing a little bit of solo playing again,

0:26:450:26:48

and I think from 2013, the City of Culture was a moment in which

0:26:480:26:53

I was asked to come out and play...

0:26:530:26:55

-It was almost a re-emergence of Ruth McGinley, wasn't it?

-It was.

0:26:550:26:58

I did actually, personally, have a moment where I thought,

0:26:580:27:01

"Do you know, there will be opportunities this year.

0:27:010:27:04

"Maybe it'd be nice to play a little bit again,"

0:27:040:27:06

because I had made a conscious decision not to

0:27:060:27:09

perform as a soloist for a number of years,

0:27:090:27:11

apart from...I am the pianist for The Priests,

0:27:110:27:15

the wonderful singing trio,

0:27:150:27:17

and I will always play a few numbers during their concerts,

0:27:170:27:20

which is lovely.

0:27:200:27:22

So, this album, with you on the front cover.

0:27:220:27:25

The glorious sort of Kate Bush look.

0:27:250:27:28

-You're looking wonderful.

-Thank you.

0:27:280:27:31

There is a sense of re-emergence, Reconnection is the title of it.

0:27:310:27:36

It did come to the stage, when I was playing for myself at home,

0:27:360:27:40

where I started getting a little thought,

0:27:400:27:42

"Maybe it would be nice to share this with people again,"

0:27:420:27:45

so there's a real variety, and it's very personal to me,

0:27:450:27:50

and hopefully that comes across.

0:27:500:27:52

I was going to see it feels long overdue,

0:27:520:27:55

but, actually, now is the right time.

0:27:550:27:58

No, I'm really pleased that I've... I have no regrets about timing

0:27:580:28:02

because I didn't want to do anything if I wasn't ready for it.

0:28:020:28:06

We wish you the best of luck with it, Ruth. Thank you so much.

0:28:060:28:08

-And thanks so much for playing for The Arts Show.

-It's my pleasure.

0:28:080:28:12

So good to see Ruth back. That's it from The Arts Show.

0:28:420:28:46

We're back next month with a special,

0:28:460:28:48

remembering the Great War and the Battle of the Somme.

0:28:480:28:52

We're on radio, Tuesdays to Fridays,

0:28:520:28:54

and online for extra material.

0:28:540:28:56

Until the next time, good night.

0:28:560:28:59

On the 75th anniversary of Citizen Kane, actor Simon Callow investigates Orson Welles's early career in Ireland, artist Jim Fitzpatrick, creator of the famous Che Guevara image, talks about his life's work, and Derry pianist Ruth McGinley performs.