Ruairi Donovan is a choreographer currently in lockdown in Cork city but he usually lives on Cape Clear Island. One of the organisers of Quarter Block Party, he is also involved in the BINGE project for Cork Midsummer Festival.
This involves a one-on-one performance where box sets of television series help answer some questions or challenges people face in their lives. See corkmidsummer.com
Best recent book you've read and what you liked about it:
I just finished reading an amazing book called From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan which follows Farouk who is a Syrian refugee who is escaping his homeland. The book really surprised me how Ryan lays out the narrative and its so beautifully written, a harrowing story.
Best recent film:
I've been using MUBI throughout lockdown its a great online platform for art house and foreign movies. I just watched RAN by Akira Kurosawa which is an amazing Japanese movie from the 80s which is based on King Lear but is this incredible spectacle of colour and just totally blew me away.
Best recent show or gig you’ve seen (in pre-Covid era):
Sing Along Social is an amazing Irish event ran by Aoife McElwain and her 'craic mechanics'. Kind of like a no pressure group karaoke, we always close Quarter Block Party with it.
There is something very special about being in a crowd where everyone is singing their hearts out that I really miss.
Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):
Lankum's album The Livelong Day. I think it's one of the best Irish recordings ever.
First ever piece of music or art that really moved you:
Possibly The Snowman. Art is all around us, i think we've become really aware of that during lockdown, its hard to say what the first thing that moved me was as a kid but music and art move me everyday i think its gets us through hard times and gives us a way to articulate our feelings.
What makes a good performance or show?
For me its all about intimacy and gathering people. I like when a performance brings me closer to people and asks me to think or consider something differently. Thats the difference between Netflix and live performance. TV and movies are escapism, they ask us to switch off . Theatre and dance asks us to sit up, to be present.
Best show you've ever seen?
I caught Kate Tempest play a set in the rain at Body and Soul last year. She was like a prophet, she was able to speak about the experience of going through Brexit, about Tory politics, about love and community - it was magic, blisteringly honest. There wasn't a dry eye.
Tell us about your TV viewing:
The box set im focusing on for the performance of BINGE is the '90s classic Queer As Folk.
Radio listening and/or podcasts:
I really like Una Mullally and Andrea Horan's United Ireland podcast. They have had some great coverage of the pandemic. I love Avery Truffleman's design stuff on 99% Invisible and Motherfocloir for some Gaeilge.
You're curating your dream festival – which three artists are on the bill, living or dead?
Rory Gallagher, David Bowie and Prince.
Your best/most famous celebrity encounter:
Michael Stipe came to see a performance I was in one night in New York. He was very sweet in the bar after the show.
You can portal back to any cultural event or music era – where, when, and why?
I wouldn't go anywhere - i think this is an amazing cultural moment we are in. So much political change has happened because of our generation and there is so much more left to do.
I think the way that arts and culture function in Ireland allow us a really open space to learn and grow. I hope the arts continue to play its part to end Direct Provision and build a more inclusive and outward looking Ireland. Enough of the introverted kitchen sink drama and the civil war politik.
You are king of the Irish arts world for a day – what's your first decree?
I'd abolish the arts monarchy and redistribute the wealth. We have to be better at making all parts of society accessible to everyone - housing, healthcare, mental health and addiction services, arts and culture.