Play it by Ear at the Everyman: new programme of live performance celebrating innovation

Play it by Ear at the Everyman: new programme of live performance celebrating innovation

Playwright Katie Holly.

You couldn't get a more appropriate mission statement for companies and organisations at the moment: Play it by Ear is all so many of us can do when the rules seem like they're changing by the minute. 

The Everyman theatre has taken this resourceful, think-on-your-feet spirit and has worked it into an exciting programe of events — its first since lockdown.

This programme features a mix of rehearsed readings, comedy, and music. The re-opening heralds a new digital direction for the theatre: Play It By Ear shows are also available live through audio broadcast to be experienced from wherever audiences are.

Naomi Daly, acting programming manager at the theatre says: "We are celebrating the voice as we focus on bringing Cork’s wealth of local talent back to the stage along with some of our established favourites. It feels great to be turning the lights back on and throwing open the doors after our longest period of closure in over 30 years. We’re really excited about this programme and I hope our audiences will agree that we’ve 'knocked it out of the Pairc'!"

Play it by Ear could be a synonym for ‘to improvise’, ‘rise to the occasion’ or ‘to think on one’s feet’. The Everyman has adapted to the new experience of performance by creating an exciting and innovative programme that highlights the exceptional theatrical talent in Cork.

As part of Play It By Ear, The Everyman presents a series of rehearsed readings, opening on Oct 15 with Marion, by Katie Holly who was this year’s ambassador for Cork County Culture Night.

Katie says: “I am so pleased and proud to be involved in the reopening of The Everyman's programme; a gorgeous, atmospheric venue that encourages and inspires the people within its walls to make great, entertaining, thought-provoking theatre.  I'm also delighted to be working with Laura O'Mahony, Tadhg Hickey and Eadaoin O'Donoghue on a reworking of my first professional play 'Marion', which was first produced in 2016 for Cork Midsummer Festival.”

The Everyman continues to fly the flag for local theatre-makers presenting  The Whiteheaded Boy — a comedy in three acts, by Lennox Robinson and directed by Ger Fitzgibbon. Full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and families fighting each other, the play is as relevant today as when it was first performed in 1916. Not only does it reveal the dynamics of a family, but it is also a pointed analysis of Irish culture.

Later in the month, Ger FitzGibbon returns with his play  The Four Faced Liar, when the voices of the four faces of Shandon Steeple come alive with a commentary on the city’s inhabitants below.

The final rehearsed reading is the darkly chilling play  The Seafarer, by Conor McPherson, directed by John McCarthy.

For music lovers, there are two spectacular live music shows to look forward to as part of Play It By Ear: 

Soprano, Majella Cullagh
Soprano, Majella Cullagh

  • Majella Cullagh, one of Ireland’s foremost sopranos, returns to The Everyman with songs from the golden age of musical theatre from the genius collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein, accompanied on piano by John O’Brien.
  • Feeling Good with Karen Underwood and John O’Brien brings us a night of heart-warming, and roof-raising jazz, soul, and blues with interpretations of the songs of Billie Holliday, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse.

We are also looking forward to  In One Eye Out The Other, acclaimed Irish comedian Tadhg Hickey’s part theatre, part stand-up comedy, show which was the most nominated show at Dublin Fringe Awards 2019.

There are old favourites too, such as the return of Aidan Dooley in  Tom Crean – Antarctic Explorer, a compelling and humorous retelling of the story of the intrepid Antarctic explorer who hailed from Annascaul, in County Kerry.

When the theatre opens its doors, visitors will notice an improved and more comfortable look as the closure period was used to finish some very timely upgrades to the building, including a makeover to the public toilets, accomplished through historic grants from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Cork City Council. This will ensure an improved, safer, and more comfortable experience for all. However, due to current indoor gathering restrictions, the theatre’s 650-seat auditorium will be operating at a greatly reduced capacity. Available tickets will sell out quickly.

Sean Kelly, executive director of the theatre, notes: "The restrictions are not viable to maintain in the long term. The Everyman has an obligation to serve the people of Cork and provide support and connections to artists. We are incredibly thankful for generous donations received from our patrons. These monies, along with Arts Council Funding, will allow us to be viable until the end of the year.”

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