On 25 July, the wonderful team behind Dublin Theatre Festival announced their programme for the upcoming 60th anniversary season. This year, the festival will run from 28 September – 15 October, lasting 18 days for the city to showcase pioneering performances over 31 productions. A highlight of near every theatregoer’s calendar, the festival offers an engaging and diverse schedule, with names such as Sebastian Barry, Annie Ryan and Oonagh Murphy, as well as a number of anticipated debuts to boot.
Theatre is constantly drawing inspiration from other artistic mediums, including literature, and two stand-outs on the bill appear to be Dermot Bolger’s adaptation of Ulysses at the Abbey, and Druid’s revival of Eugene McCabe’s King of the Castle, which first premiered at DTF in 1964. Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh collaborate once more in their opera The Second Violinist at the O’Reilly Theatre, telling a dark story to the sonorous backdrop of Chorus of Wide Open Opera and Crash Ensemble. For those hoping to avoid persons, Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis is being performed by puppetry legends Little Angel Theatre.
While the opportunity to focus on the past 60 years of the festival would be an obvious one to seize, artistic director Willie White is instead looking to examine the contemporary. In his welcome address in this year’s programme, White explains his hopes this year’s DTF programme will “give audiences an opportunity to reflect on the values of empathy, generosity and solidarity, which are currently under such pressure globally”. This can be seen in DTF’s opening show: Ramin Gray’s production of The Suppliant Women – a retelling of Aeschylus’ 2,500-year-old play about the plight of refugees. Fifty women, some in Direct Provision, will take to the Gaiety stage in what is set to be a visceral and emotional masterpiece. Anu’s new production The Sin Eaters explores current body politics via the story of the 1984 Kerry babies tragedy.
The #WakingTheFeminists Movement and Minister for Arts Heather Humphrey’s call for gender equality policies in National Cultural Institutions in March 2017 (see Lauren Boland’s piece on gender equality in Irish Theatre) have clearly impacted DTF’s programme, with a clear increase in the number of women writers and directors given the platform to showcase their work. Emma Martin continues her exploration of dance-theatre in Girl Song, while Doireann Coady debuts at Project Arts Centre in TheatreClub’s I’m Not Here. Annie Ryan’s The Corn Exchange’s return to the Gaiety with Belinda McKeon’s Ibsen-inspired dystopian Nora.
All in all, Dublin Theatre Festival 2017 is set to remind us of the power of theatre in a world where politics are strife. TN2 cannot wait to attend.