Tuesday 25 October 2016

Dublin Theatre Festival preview

Willie White of Dublin Theatre Festival
Willie White of Dublin Theatre Festival

These are interesting times for the annual Dublin Theatre Festival. Now in its 58th year, a total of 28 major productions will be staged city-wide, from September 24 - October 11, and more than a dozen of them were produced on home turf.

"In previous years, going back to the early noughties, there were many International projects, and few Irish ones," says DTF's Artistic Director, Willie White. "It's flipped the other way entirely now."

Indeed, anything is possible at DTF. We are, after all, talking about a festival where large-scale marquee events (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Bord Gais Energy Theatre) meet intimate and quirky family comedies (Newcastlewest at Smock Alley Theatre). The art of theatre-making has rarely been as prolific and as popular as it is in Ireland in 2015, and it's up to the folks behind the festival to assemble a wide-ranging, first-rate programme of events.

"It has to deliver for theatre," explains White. "We're one of the major platforms, I believe, people look to, to see the state of the art." Rest assured, DTF 2015 certainly delivers, covering all bases, from the musical (The Train at Project Arts Centre) to the tragic (Wayne Jordan's new version of Oedipus at the Abbey).

And then there's Family Season at the Ark, 'French Focus' and Festival on Tour, featuring Star of the Sea at Draiocht. It's a packed programme, and one that should bridge the gap between seasoned audience members and casual punters. "True, people show up for the marquee productions," says White, "but what you need underneath all of that is to be renewing theatre culture by supporting local artists and riskier work.

There'd be no point in doing a show that was just for the big houses that didn't have the more fledgling work, and at the same time, there's no point in saying ,'oh, every box is ticked in terms of the avant garde,' but no-ones coming. It's about trying to achieve a balance."White's Recommendations: The Night Alive (Gaiety Theatre), By Heart (Smock Alley Theatre) and BEES! (The Ark).


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