A question of taste - Jen Coppinger

Jen Coppinger is from Bantry, Co Cork, and has been working in the arts for much of the past 20 years. Current productions she’s involved in are Danse, Morob at the Project in Dublin, and Kevin Barry’s touring play, Autumn Royal.
A question of taste - Jen Coppinger

Best recent book you’ve read:

I adored Beatlebone by Kevin Barry.

Best recent film:

I bawled my eyes at A Monster Call’s by Patrick Ness directed by JA Bayona.

Best recent show you’ve seen:

Recently I was in Paris and had the pleasure of seeing Théâtre du Soleil’s A Room in India directed by theatre icon Ariane Mnouchkine.

It was my first time at the world-famous Cartoucherie venue.

From the moment you enter the grounds you are part of a collective all working towards a shared experience.

This is done through eating together, choosing your own seat and the company keep the dressing rooms on view, the band are on stage throughout etc.

It creates a wonderful communal energy that is joyous and thought-provoking.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately:

I had the pleasure of recently working with Lisa O’Neill.

We presented the Long Night of the Short Story on December 21 which was five brilliant writers reading their short stories.

Lisa responded musically with her own original work.

Her albums Pothole in the Sky and Same Cloth or Not are extraordinary.

First ever piece of music or art that really moved you:

Seeing Iggy Pop strut his stuff around Semple Stadium at Féile in 1993 was significant.

I was only a baby then (17).

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen:

I was lucky enough to see Björk performing her Biophilia project at the Campfield Market Hall as part of Manchester International Festival in 2011.

She performed with a 24-strong Icelandic choir; Heath Robinson-style invented instruments and recorded introductions by David Attenborough.

It was intriguing, exciting and utterly glorious.

TV viewing

: I’ve recently moved house and decided to not have a TV so my viewing is strictly box-sets and Netflix.

I have loved The Crown.

I also love bingeing on sit-coms.

Recent obsessions have been Sharon Horgan’s Catastrophe and Brooklyn Nine Nine, which includes one of my favourite comic actors Joe Lo Truglio playing Boyle.

I get giddy just thinking of him!


I am a podcast junkie.

My constant love is BBC 4’s Desert Island Discs. I also love NPR’s Fresh Air and Alex Balwin’s Here’s The Thing.

Radio-wise I listen to RTÉ Radio 1 a lot and love Inside Culture, Arena and the John Creedon Show.

You’re curating your dream festival; what three artists are on the bill?

Nina Simone for her prowess on the piano, her bravery to speak up when others didn’t and her incredible voice.

I would programme Bette Davis and hope that she might perform some of her theatrical roles from Broadway in the 1930’s and a one-woman version of All About Eve (my favourite movie).

And lastly I would programme James Joyce for his genius and for his eccentricity.

Your best celebrity encounter:

One of my heroes is the poet Billy Collins.

He was the American Poet Laureate from 2001-03. My favourite being Aimless Love.

Poetry Ireland presented Billy in the 2014 Kilkenny Arts Festival.

I had the pleasure of his company where a small group of us got to drink Guinness, sing songs and eat toasted cheese sandwiches in a wonderful bar called Benjy’s.

To make it even better it was my birthday and one of those special nights to remember.

Do you have any interesting family or ancestors?

My family go back generations in West Cork.

The Coppingers and the O’Driscoll’s (my mother was born Breda O’Driscoll) are related to half of Bantry.

My dad Mickie Coppinger (RIP) was a cattle dealer who sold animals all over Munster.

The next generation are heroes.

My nephew Brendan Coppinger was awarded the Garda Youth Achievement Award last year for saving his friend’s life.

He used CPR and a defibrillator to resuscitate his friend.

My niece, Libby Coppinger managed to be on the panel for three All-Ireland finals last September — the intermediate and senior camogie team and the senior ladies football team.

Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve:


Unfortunately our society is not equal.

Pay gaps still exist.

Discrimination still exists. Unconscious bias still exists.

I am incredibly proud to have been part of the WakingTheFeminists movement over that last 15 months.

You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree?


Equal rights for women — 50%50% representation in our Dáil, on our stages, on our airwaves, in our media, in all parts of society.

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