The West Cork town of Clonakilty becomes GuitarTown once again this September for the 14th annual Clonakilty International Guitar Festival. This year the festival will extend across the entire week, running from September 17-23 and also extend across the town as it welcomes Footsbarn Travelling Theatre and their big top to the festival with Glen Hansard’s Come on Up To The House Tour.
“We’re very excited and happy to be coming back to Ireland and visiting Clonakilty for the first time,” Footsbarn’s artistic director Paddy Hayter tells Mary O’Brien.
“The Irish are one of the best publics in the world. In France and other countries sometimes the theatre can feel a bit elitist but it’s very open to everyone here in the land of music and poetry!”
Footsbarn Travelling Theatre is one of the world’s leading touring companies performing for the most part in one of its circus big tops but also in theatres thoughout the world.
The theatre group is renowned for its colourful circus atmosphere and exciting adaptations of classics such as Shakespeare and Moliere transcending the barrier of language with its unique blend of visual theatre, music and magic.
In 1984 the company left Britain to take its brand of theatre to international audiences and remained without a base until 1991 when a farm was purchased in central France, La Chaussée.
Paddy has been with Footsbarn Travelling Theatre since almost the beginning, when it first formed in Cornwall in the early 70s. It is a bit different now. For the first 10 years, we all travelled the world together and our children were schooled on the road. Today, when we’re not touring a lot of people go away and come back for the playing dates. But once we’re together, everyone puts up the tent.
“I’m an actor really, that’s my passion, but we all have a lot of roles,” says Paddy, who has also worked as a technician.
“As we bring our tent with us, it’s our own space, so very specifically designed for theatre,” he explains. “It’s a fantastic space, very intimate and we perform in an arena rather than on stage.
“Our aim is to get people to forget the world for a bit.”
Footsbarn Travelling Theatre certainly achieves that.
“There is a kind of magic to it all that is enhanced by the vagabond gypsy mystique of the travelling theatre.“ – The Australian.
“Footsbarn is a theatre festival unto itself, a wonderfully eclectic mixture of styles and influences, of nationalities and cultures, all melded into a seamlessly fluid torrent of pure theatre…“ Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole.
Performances by Footsbarn at Clonakilty International Guitar Festival include Bottom’s Dream and Mingling with Moliere.
Bottom’s Dream inspired by The Midsummer Night’s Dream from W. Shakespeare is an evening of magic and comedy where the amateur troupe of rude mechanicals get embroiled in an argument between the King and Queen of the Fairies. From the moment you step inside the theatre, you are in a parallel universe, a place where fantastical creatures lurk, and the removal of the intrigues of the court and the lovers, allows for a special emphasis on the world of the groundlings and of the supernatural.
Mingling with Moliere is a Journey through the most stirring, hilarious and insolent of the farces of Moliere.
In ‘The Forced Marriage’, an old bachelor is seduced into becoming engaged with a money grabbing young woman.
Full of doubts on the wisdom of this marriage, he embarks on a personal odyssey, questioning everyone he meets, philosophers, gypsies and friends, who in turn give him more and more confusing advice. This caustic and candid masterpiece offers an incredible palette of truculent characters and tragi-comic situations.
The ‘Jealousy of the Barbouillé’ is in a way a sequel to the forced Marriage. The main protagonists are wedded but the husband is full of doubts as to the faithfulness of his wife and seeks to lock her out of the house. However his wily wife turns the situation to her benefit.
The two pieces will succeed each the other in one seamless piece, making the Barbouillé a tragi-comique épilogue to the Marriage.