Lee banks to explode with light as Cork 2005 awakens

CORK city’s infamous riverbanks will be the central focus of the largest outdoor event ever to be staged here when the city is officially unveiled as the 2005 European Capital of Culture on Saturday night.

After a year of creative planning, design and construction, the Waterford-based street theatre group Spraoi are this week adding the final touches to the Awakenings show, which will be broadcast live from the River Lee on television and on screens across the city.

The show promises an entertaining spectacle of sound, vision and colour, but it’s the local culture which truly plays a part in telling something of the story of Cork.

Spraoi director TV Honan says, “The River Lee seemed to be larger than life, very much more than a river passing through a city, but a more iconic thing: in fact it seemed to write itself into the script.”

“For us as next-door neighbours it was very interesting to get into the skin of Cork, it’s been a privilege and we’ve had great fun,” he said.

Created by artistic directors Dermot Quinn and Mike Leahy, Awakenings brings to life the ancient legend of St Finbarr and a giant serpent, whose shape is said to have formed the course of the River Lee.

For the last six months the 120-strong crew has been designing, creating and building the elements of the show at the company’s purpose-built facility in Waterford.

International experts including lighting designer Tom Kenny, who has worked with U2, and David Bowie have also been working on the production.

In the last weeks, 12 articulated trucks have travelled from Waterford to Cork with equipment and teams are already in place in the city assembling lighting and sound equipment as well as the steel structure which will carry the serpent along the river and its crossings.

“We wanted to do something that not only reflected the Cork of the past, but be contemporary,” Mr Honan said. “It will reflect the traditions of Cork but also have an industrial, techno-look.”

Over the last weeks a camera crew has shot images of real-life people and events in Cork city and county which will be blasted from the river onto an 80-foot screen.

“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t nerves around this week, no one has been here before, but we’ve been doing this on various scales for 15 years now,” Mr Honan said.

The show will be followed by the largest fireworks display ever seen in Ireland, organised by producers Ten Alps and funded by the National Lottery.

Nerves aside, the only concern now for the organisers is that the gods will be kind to them and keep the rain away.

“We have our fingers crossed for a dry night - we’d like to think that everyone there will take away an image of the night that they will never forget,” Mr Honan said.

Traffic restrictions

Patrick’s Bridge will be closed from 3am on Friday, January 7th to 12 midnight on Saturday, January 8th, 2005.

Christy Ring Bridge will be closed from 11am to 8pm on Saturday, January 8.

The following roads will be closed from 12 noon to 8pm on Saturday, January 8: Patrick’s Street, Merchant’s Quay, Oliver Plunkett Street, Robert Street, Cook Street, Marlboro Street, Princes Street, Smith Street, Eglantine Street, Tuckey Street, Lapp’s Quay, Half Moon Street, Paul Street, Devonshire Street, St Augustine Street, Bridge Street, Camden Quay, Pine Street, Patrick’ s Quay, Harley Street, Brian Boru Street, Brian Boru Bridge, Anderson’s Quay, Clontarf Street, Terence McSweeney Quay, Deane Street, Lavitt’s Quay and the North Link Road between Camden Quay and Leitrim Street.

All city centre multi-storey car parks will be open on Saturday, January 8. However, members of the public planning to travel into the city centre on that day should note that travel to and from the city centre by car will be restricted from 12 noon until 8pm on Saturday, January 8 due to the road closures around the city.

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