The fourth day of my Dublin Theatre Festival trip was Friday, October 6th. I started the day with breakfast in the Garden Room at the hotel. On the first day in the hotel I had breakfast delivered to my room but I think that cost extra. The first activity planned by the Irish Repertory Theater was a private tour of the Hugh Lane Gallery’s exhibition on Andy Warhol. I don’t mean to imply that we had the museum to ourselves. But we did have a museum tour guide which most visitors to the museum don’t get.
I took a taxi with another man in our group because it would have been a long walk to the museum. We got there before anyone else so I was able to take some photos of the museum entrance. Nearby was the Garden of Remembrance where the Children of Lir statue is located. So I was able to take some photos of that too.
Upon entering the museum I left my jacket and digital camera in the coat check room. It was way too hot to be wearing a jacket. I did keep my smartphone on me.
Of course, I am extremely familiar with the work and history of Andy Warhol. I have read his biography. And I visited the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Since many of the people in our group were from Manhattan, I’m sure they needed no introduction to Andy Warhol as he was once the quintessential New Yorker.
First we entered a room filled with silver balloons that floated in the air. As the tour guide pointed out, this was an early instance of immersive art. Next we entered a room with his famous Campbell Soup can paintings and Brillo boxes. I had the idea of recreating his Campbell Soup cans as a work of generative art. I would do it the hard way by drawing the entire image through code, although it would be much easier to load a SVG file. We also saw some Marilyn Monroe silkscreens, Chairman Mao silkscreens, some of his Death and Disaster series, and many more of his iconic works. At the very end of the exhibit there was a video exhibit of his Screen Tests, a series of short, silent, black-and-white film portraits. I had never seen these before. They were very haunting as they almost looked like static portraits until you saw slight eye or head movements. The experience was as if the person was standing before you. Before leaving the museum I found the Francis Bacon Studio which is the artist’s extremely messy studio that is permanently installed at the museum. It was very decrepit and creepy. I definitely would have wanted to see this if I had gone on a trip on my own. At the museum store I even found a few plays to buy; Andersen’s English and Dallas Sweetman by Sebastian Barry, 5 Euros each. I have this writer in my notes. He is primarily known as a novelist.
After leaving the museum I shared a taxi back to the hotel. We were supposed to have lunch on our own, but I didn’t think I had enough time for that so I skipped lunch.
The next activity on the schedule was a bus trip (or coach to use the UK term) to Leixlip Castle. We meet in front of the hotel at 2:20 p.m. and boarded a small bus. Unfortunately the driver experienced some problems operating the bus. I think it was something with the hand brake not disengaging. He had to pull over a few blocks from the hotel. He was very disgusted with his employer as they could do nothing to help him. He couldn’t even get another bus. This forced the Irish Repertory Theater team to form a new plan. Some people chose to go back to the hotel. Some people took taxis to go to the Leixlip Castle. But a third option was to visit the Museum of Literature Ireland (MOLI) which was nearby as we were parked off St. Stephen’s Green. I am more into literature than history so naturally I choose to join a small group to visit the Museum of Literature Ireland (MOLI). This group was lead by Anna Collins and there were only four of us. In a way this was quite fortunate because I definitely would not have wanted to miss this museum, but probably would have neglected to find time to visit it on my own given all the other planned activities.
The first thing we saw in the museum was some sort of homage to Brendan Behan. I’m not a big fan of this playwright, but I did read his plays decades ago. The homage was in a sort of chapel and there was even an altar to the great man. The audio recording seemed like pure paddywhackery, an amusing term I found in the Wikipedia article on Stage Irish.
After that we came across the sort of inventive museum exhibits that are typical of museums on literature or writers. Typically there will be some writing in neon floating about the room and microphones or telephone headsets for audio recitations. There was even a model of the city with markers for Bloomsday pilgrims and an extensive timeline board on James Joyce. I read Ulysses decades ago and remember nothing about it. However, I am slightly more familiar with his years in Paris because it intersects with the history of many other major figures in literature. I pointed out a photo of the Shakespeare and Company book store to Anna Collins and mentioned that I have been there. I also mentioned that there was a recently published fictional account of Sylvia Beach’s role in getting Ulysses published but I could not remember the title or author. It was The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher. I have this book but it did not occur to me to read it before making my trip. I also pointed to a photo of George William Russell (AE), the visionary poet and great mystic whose bust can be found in Merrion Park, but Anna Collins was not familiar with his work. To pick him out was almost too telling, but I won’t explain that. It would have said much to a very perceptive or curious person. I almost forgot to mention that there was an art film projected onto a wall featuring snatches of the stream of consciousness from either Ulysses or Finnegans Wake.
Upstairs I found a bookcase featuring books that won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. I took a photo of this bookcase just so I could zoom in and identify the books later on. Further on we came across an actual original copy of Ulysses. Somebody expressed surprise that it was so thick. I noticed that too. There was also a bookcase of James Joyce’s work in foreign languages. I mentioned that I have a French edition of the book which naturally I have never read. There was a room where you could listen to audio prompts and then write something to pin on the wall with a magnet. It occurred to me to use one of my witticisms, “We don’t accept reality because we think we deserve something better”. Maybe somebody will find that striking. I have used that in many tweets so it would be possible to trace it back to me. You would merely need to enter it into a search engine. I just tried that and it produced no results. Oh well.
We proceeded to the gift shop. I was sorely tempted to buy a book, but I did not see any plays. I mentioned to Anna that I had already bought too many books. Adding a lot of books to your checked bag can exceed the weight limit. I have made that mistake before! In the end I brought seven books home with me, but they were all thin books as plays make for very thin books. From the gift shop we went out to the garden where I found a statue to photograph. This encouraged everyone else to take some photos. I mentioned that I had skipped lunch and needed to eat dinner so Anna encouraged me to leave to have dinner.
As I was walking along St. Stephen’s Green i noticed a military helicopter flying low. Lots of people were looking up at it. The helicopter kept coming back so I finally took a photo of it. It was a bit of a distraction, but I limped my way to Matt The Thresher on Pembroke Street Lower. It started to rain a little on the way and I did not have my umbrella but fortunately it was a light drizzle. Matt The Thresher turned out to be a very elegant restaurant. They had a small library and a piano. There was plenty of seating and the decor was nice. I ordered Fish and Chips because this restaurant is known for its seafood. I also ordered a pint of Guinness as I had almost forgotten to go to a pub to have a pint of Guinness. Fortunately there was an even better opportunity to do this later.
On the walk back to the hotel I stopped into a TESCO store. I bought some pain medication, nail clippers, and a free copy of a Pavilion Theatre brochure. For some reason I did not have this theater in my notes. A quick Google search reveals that it is an art center in Dublin but it is not located in the heart of the city. The cover of the brochure features a photo for the play The Savior by Deirdre Kinahan. Since the Irish Repertory Theater had premiered this play for the American market using the same photo, it caught my eye.
The next cultural activity was the play Quake at the Samuel Beckett Theatre. The Samuel Beckett Theatre is located within the grounds of Trinity College. As I recollect, I did walk with the group to this theater since a taxi would not be able to drop me directly at the theater. I did take a taxi to return to the hotel but we still had to walk across the Trinity College quad to reach a place where the taxi could park. Anyways it was very interesting to walk around Trinity College at night. This was my only experience there since I did not get to see the Book of Kells. Needless to say the theater was not air conditioned and I was uncomfortably hot during the entire performance. It made me a little eager for the end of it. But the play was interesting. It was about a group of modern day Quakers who eventually lost their place of worship. Naturally they sought comfort by sharing their trials and tribulations. My sister holds these kinds of religious services and I was forced to attend one once. I noticed the same process of the service serving as a form of therapy. I certainly appreciate how spirituality is important to keep people resilient enough to cope with a difficult life. The absolute hostility to spirituality in favor of strict reason is not very healthy. Although you are supposed to sit quietly and contemplatively during a Quaker service, for the sake of the drama the characters had to make many outbursts. At one point they even began dancing as if they were at a disco which was amusingly out of character. Naturally one of the characters had to be dealing with something related to homosexuality. His daughter came out as gay so he struggled to accept that. Anther character seemed to be suffering from dementia yet still showed remarkable self awareness so that was not very convincing. But I thought it was a good example of a serious drama which could be executed through very simple means. Basically all you would need is chairs and a table for the vase of flowers, but they also projected images of some trees which were a significant symbol in the play.
When we got back to the hotel some of the people from the creative team where there for drinks and a chat. I think the writer of the show, Janet Moran, was there.