The Kilkenny Arts Festival went out in a rainbow and watergaw of glory with some of the best wine of the sodden spirit kept for the last day where under an umbrella of art and festival you got a sell-out at St. Canice’s Cathedral with the gentle and pure-phrased, Spiritualised, with their airy tunes of gospel and blues full of love, mortality and resilience. To survive the rain was a resilience in itself.
At Cleere’s bar where Johnny Holden, resplendent in Waterford jersey, dispensed good cheer, good coffee and good advice, the RedFM superstars Fred held forth and first. This Cork group need about half a million invested in them as they just survive in a state that U2 were in back in 1979. Their CD, Go God Do, would brighten up any miserable day and they exude resilience.
Over in the Watergate Theatre, you needed stamina and resilience for nearly three hours of agit-prop and the seriously committed Belarus Free Theatre with their trilogy – Zone Of Silence. The first section turned out to be two plays over two hours without a break, Legends of Children and Diverse, where the audience were hectored to sing a song in praise of Lenin. (Stalin came from near Gori in Georgia). Through the eyes of children, the actors explained their childhood and we got an uncomfortable dose of family abuse, teacher abuse, political abuse, brain tumours, love, sex, attempted suicide, vomit, parental casual brutality, more psychosis than a Sarah Kane play.
We got blindingly painful theatre, hard to watch, and a scene with a puppet made from a peopaganda newspaper was chilling. Diverse had an amputee playng guitar, more suicide, more peeing in buckets, mentioned blowjobs, Perestroika and Chernobyl, cancer. The break after two hours was welcome before the audience were assaulted by an avalanche of Belarus statistics in numbers. 72 percent have difficulty defining democracy, 13 model agencies sell women into slavery. 64,730 abortions in 2007; quarter of the population have mental disorders, 60 percent domestic violence, 50 percent divorces, appalling industrial safety.
Three male actors and three female actors acted out this litany of horror in theatrical ritual and routine. I am too old to be shocked but this agit-prop work cut into me. I felt I was released, set free, at the end but that I would be stopped on the way home to flashing blue lights, stabbings and mayhem in my native city, where the guards want to negotiate with warring factions.
Where are we coming from? Where are we going to? once again the day was enjoyable and special.