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Climbed a mountain today – or at least Killiney Hill; Saw a new play at the Abbey by Ann Treacy
August 21, 2019, 8:43 am
Filed under: Dublin

Today we headed to the Northside – me the girls and a friend from Lily’s college who is here at the same time. We took the DART (great for views) to Killiney to check out the beach and then climb Killiney Hill. It’s another activity that was pretty popular with us when we lived here. It turns out the girls are not in the same good condition they were back in the day. There was a lot of huffing, puffing and pausing on the way to the top but one we made it the views were worth it. Even after it started to rain.

After the big climb, we headed to lunch in Dalkey. There is nothing better than seafood chowder after a big walk. The we walked around Dalkey, especially it see Dalkey Island. We were horrified to see people jumping from from a high wall into the sea. First, the wall was too high. Second, the sea is too cold. But I had to share some pictures of strangers jumping.

Also went to dinner and the Abbey with Tony Roche and Katy Hayes. They were very, very good to us when we lived here before so it was nice to catch up. It’s fun to hear how families change and flourish; they all seem to be doing well. And we went to opening night of The Hunger at the Abbey. (Katy writes reviews for the Irish Independent. I can’t want to see her review.)

It is an opera, here’s a brief description from the website

Asenath Nicholson travelled in Ireland and provided relief to starving people during the Great Famine. Her harrowing first-person account Annals of the Famine in Ireland forms the basis of this extraordinary opera by Donnacha Dennehy, composer of the award-winning The Last Hotel and The Second Violinist. Director Tom Creed makes his debut on the Abbey stage with the European premiere of a moving and thrilling new work.

It as if someone put the exact words of her account to music; she is reporting and commenting on the state, especially of a father who has brought a dying child to town, looking for relief/support. The father sings his reaction to his story. And occasionally experts from the field appear on multimedia screens to offer social and academic commentary.

The music isn’t drone – I almost wish it had been because that would be interesting to me but it is repetitive, sometimes cacophonous sometimes dramatic. More palatable for a wider audience but like drone, it’s not as easy to listen to, it requires more work from the audience. That mixed with the operatic singing is an interesting juxtaposition. As one of my friends said, dying isn’t very dramatic on stage. And while the show is barely over an hour, it seems long. But I assume that’s by design. It puts the audience in the middle of the famine. It’s bleak, it’s seemingly never-ending. (Or in the case of the dying daughter, she dies right before the father gets money.)  The themes are compelling.

The commentary highlights the economics and morality of famine versus free market economy. Some opinions: If the British had invested in jobs and job training versus workhouses, the outcome may have been different. Giving to grand scope tragedies like this is futile, because there isn’t enough money to make a difference. And of course giving money to the poor, means the rich get less. Some of the rich feel that it’s a meritocracy – that the poor are someone deserving of their plight or are at least not deserving of something better.

It makes me think of my time spent helping Monica advocate for the homeless in the Twin Cities. Is it futile to give? Will the rich be unwilling to give up renting luxury apartments in lieu of affordable housing? I also couldn’t help but think of the families and the children on the US-Mexican border. How can we continue to watch people die before we decide to make a difference?

The play brings up George Thompson, a British abolitionist who toured the US to lecture about the role American played in the perpetuation of slavery. Such an interesting choice. Tied to the video commentary in the play. A lot so questions arise, observations are made – now it is up to the audience to be inspired to action.

The audience didn’t riot as they did for the opening of John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in 1907 when they saw the show as a offense to public morality – maybe we’re thicker skinned now. Maybe right people aren’t in the theater. Maybe we need this to open in El Paso, Texas.

Also – I’ll be certainly using some of the ideals of investing in people rather than letting them flounder in my day job, writing about how investment in rural broadband has a certain and palpable return on investment and without it communities will die.

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