Dublin Gay Theatre Festival has revealed ABSOLUT as its new headline sponsors at the official announcement of this year’s programme. The fortnight long festival which returns for its sixth year on the May Bank Holiday, will now be known the ABSOLUT Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, ‘ABSOLUT’ replacing the word ‘International’ in its title. Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen TD launched the programme of the festival, the only one of its kind worldwide dedicated solely to gay theatre, at an official reception in The Gaiety Theatre. Taking place in city centre theatres between May 4th and May 17th, the festival will present a diverse range of 40 productions, including drama, comedy, musical theatre and dance. The omission of International from this year’s festival title is by no means an indication of a reduction in the festival’s significant international element. In spite of the global economic situation, the festival welcomes to Dublin, companies from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, Canada and the USA, in addition to many from Europe and the UK. Established in 2004 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Oscar Wilde, the 2009 run will see the festival surpass its 1,000th performance within its first week.
Speaking of his company’s decision to increase their support of the festival to that of title sponsor, Brendan Buckley of Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard, the distributors of ABSOLUT in Ireland said that “ABSOLUT was one of the first mainstream brands to support the gay community and have been doing so all around the world since 1981. When ABSOLUT first decided to support the rights of the individual some 30 years ago, it was considered bold. Today the brand can look back on those days and that decision with pride. For us, our sponsorship of the ABSOLUT Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is a natural way to continue to inspire people to challenge convention and to see the world in a better, more inclusive light.”
Minister Martin Cullen TD said: “This is a festival which has grown in the number and quality of its productions and has developed its niche in the arts scene. It has given a voice to gay and gay-related artists. The Theatre festival has stayed true to its stated ambition by fostering international links with theatres, performers and playwrights. The recent decision to appoint Tony award-winning American playwright Terrence McNally as its patron is strong evidence of this.”
Although the 40 productions in this year’s programme are connected by having a gay theme, character or relevance, the festival’s Artistic Director, Brian Merriman insists that the festival is an inclusive event. “Everyone is welcome to contribute to the ABSOLUT Dublin Gay Theatre Festival and many do. Our participants are as diverse as our audience; gay and straight, men and women, young and old, of many races and beliefs. We provide a fortnight of good employment for actors, playwrights and technicians, good value prices and quality entertainment for the people of Dublin and beyond. This festival punches way above its weight when you look at the resources we have to draw upon, and I thank all those whose generous contributions make it possible for this unique event to happen in Dublin city.”
Among the highlights of this year’s festival is Frank McGuiness’ critically acclaimed play, The Bird Sanctuary. Not seen in Dublin since its Irish premiere at the Abbey, it is staged at The Project Arts Centre during the first week. It is followed nightly by the award winning Loupe, a brave production from Zimbabwe. A play that illustrates the nuances of that country’s politics under Mugabe, Loupe takes a magnified look at a troubled society, sexuality, HIV and brotherly love. In the same venue in the second week, A Dog Called Redemption tells of the unlikely friendship formed by two homeless men. Winner of the Best New Play Award at the 2008 Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards, it is a hilarious and touching story. Also that week at The Project is Silenciados from Madrid; five separate stories from different times and across the world tied together through the common theme of sexual discrimination. A visual treat of physical theatre, it is joined in the programme by other powerful productions incorporating dance in the form of Tchaikovsky’s Wife and Dog of All Creation.
The themes of education, youth and homophobia feature strongly in the festival’s programme. Among them the new play by Dublin’s Independent Youth Theatre, Killed By Curriculum as well as Care Takers and Phi Alpha Gamma. The dark I Love You, Bro looks at a teenager’s life in internet chat-rooms, Minor Gods at an unexpected twist in the life of a rent boy and Walnuts Remind me of my Mother is a lesbian coming of age tale.
This year also sees a strong selection of plays with links to Oscar Wilde with a reworking of The Picture (of Dorian Gray), a magical The Happy Prince and Wilde’s infamous trial in More Lives Than One – Oscar Wilde and the Black Douglas. Another true 19th century gay scandal features in Lord Arthur’s Bed.
With titles such as Wonder Woman – The Musical and Santa Claus is Coming Out!, there is little doubt that musical theatre and comedy feature strongly in this year’s programme. The Irish mammy from hell is seen in Goodnight Alice, high-octane ‘rap opera’ in Bash’d and a strange turn of events in Pig Tale – An Urban Faerie Story. The comic but sexy Two Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter’s Night and the songs of David Friedman in Listen to My Heart mean that classics are also added to this mix.
Following everything from Polish puppetry (Broken Nails) to Berlin cabaret (The Iron Eyelashes – After the Wall ), the Gala Night and Awards draws the festival to a close on Sunday, May 17th in the Button Factory. It will take over 250 actors, crew, organisers and voluntary staff to stage the two week event.
Preceding the festival on Thursday, April 30th will be the ABSOLUT Drama Queen Launch Party in The Front Lounge. A dedicated festival box office will open inside Temple Bar Cultural Information Centre on the same week.
After celebrating a fifth successful year in 2008, the festival received a highly commended award in the Culture & Tourism category of the 2008 Irish Times Living Dublin Awards, which recognise organisations that work to improve the quality of life in Dublin city.
For more details and online-booking, visit the new-look website at www.gaytheatre.ie
For Further Information & Images:
Connell A. Kennedy, Public Relations Officer, ABSOLUT Dublin Gay Theatre Festival
Tel: 00 353 (0)86 1620503, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about the sponsor, ABSOLUT, please contact
Tara O’Connor at FD on mobile: 086 236 6936 or Liz Burke at FD on mobile: 087 955 1655
left to right: Brendan Buckley of ABSOLUT, Senator David Norris and TV star Anna Nolan