Martin Hayes and the Common Ground Ensemble
17th Mar 2020
Recent years have seen a groundswell of women’s voices in Irish literature, music and poetry. This special event will celebrate those voices, bringing together a stellar cast of women with a lot to say.
Imelda May brings her jazz-tinged vocals the show, following Love. Life. Flesh. Blood., the boldest and most personal album she has written.
Lisa O’Neill breathes life to songs passed through generations, some mixed with political messages giving a voice to a community, and dark tales of the past.
Art-pop auteur SOAK creates emotionally probing songs of startling candour.
As lead singer of the band Lankum, Radie Peat is one of the remarkable voices of new folk.
The words are just as vital as the music. Sinéad Gleeson, author of Constellations, explains how she curated the show and what made her choose the artists she invited to the lineup:
‘The theme for Imagining Ireland is 'Speaking Up, Speaking Louder' which to me, embodies all the social and cultural change that has happened in Ireland in recent years. After decades of silence, women have finally found their voices. Many did so in music and words, two things that are very important to me.
I wanted this line-up to be inclusive and diverse; to showcase the huge number of talented women telling stories with songs or essays or short stories. The biggest problem was how to scale it down, with so much talent to choose from. These are contemporary performers, speaking of the now, like SOAK - Radie Peat's work seems to amplify history and the past too. Wendy Erskine documents the politics and culture of Northern Ireland with wit and humour. I saw Denise Chaila perform a devastating piece about #MeToo at a festival and because she's an electrifying performer, I wanted her to part of this. The 'Aisling' books by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen are the biggest selling books in Ireland, since 2000, and are funny, on-the-nose accounts of a certain kind of Irish girl we all know. To have Deborah Levy - an excellent writer who is as at home in memoir and poetry as drama and novels - is a big highlight.
Bringing this troupe of funny, smart, articulate women together has been a joy, and I can't wait for London audiences to hear them’
Deborah Levy is the author of seven novels, including Swimming Home, Hot Milk and The Man Who Saw Everything, all of which were nominated for the Booker Prize. She has written two acclaimed works of memoir, Things I Don’t Want To Know and The Cost of Living. She joins some of the leading lights of an acclaimed generation of Irish writers to speak out.
The evening includes Wendy Erskine (Sweet Home), Sinéad Gleeson (Constellations), Sara Baume (A Line Made by Walking), and Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen (Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling, The Importance of Being Aisling). Word and music meet in the work of Denise Chaila, a Zambian-Irish rapper, singer and poet hailing from Chikankata in Zambia and based in Limerick. Her music blends spoken word and rap to give voice to the sound of a transatlantic odyssey.
‘ ‘A glorious musical melting pot, a modern multi-faceted view of Irish experience’ ’
‘ 'It’s kind of an institution; it’s an amazing event. Do get yourself a ticket - it is well worth it' ’
‘ A collection of essays, frank and revealing, which make up a memoir telling the story of a woman’s life through her body and all the things that happen to it. It’s very well written, clever and moving ’
‘ Constellations [by Sinéad Gleeson] wades in beyond a comfortable depth on matters of life, death, love, art and womanhood, with poeticism, sensuality and piercing honesty. You’re in for a treat ’
Imagining Ireland 2020 is curated by Sinéad Gleeson and Gary Sheehan, produced by NCH and Serious and supported by Culture Ireland.