Transported to Donegal by way of the Alumnae Theatre

Off I went to see The Toronto Irish Players  latest offering of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa. A Memory play set in 1936 in the Donegal home of the Mundy sisters told from the point of view of Michael Evans, the narrator. He recounts the summer in his aunts’ cottage when he was seven years old, as they struggle with life, love, changing times, and a damn bloody wireless!

DancingAtLaughnasa_FNLOpening with narrator Michael (Enda Reilly), who was raised by his single mother, and youngest of the four Mundy sisters Christina (Lauren McGinty). The eldest sibling and local school teacher, Kate (Erin Jones) has a reputation as ‘The Gander’ in the schoolroom which is seen to extend into the household; Maggie (Rebecca De La Cour) acts as the chief family and family clown who looks after the small family farm; and the quiet Agnes (Donna O’Regan) and simple Rose (Áine Donnelly) earn money by knitting gloves.

The return of their brother Father Jack (Ian McGarrett), sent home from his mission in Uganda by his superiors, with the rumour being that Jack was dismissed for “going native” and abandoning much of his Catholicism during his time there. The arrival which was due to be met by banners and parades causes a shift in the community mind set. Industrialization is catching up with rural Ireland, and factory-made goods are putting Agnes’ and Roses’ work at risk. Sporadic, visits from Michael’s father Gerry (Sean Gilheany), a charming yet unreliable Welsh wanderer turned, ballroom dancer turned gramophone salesman, give the family especially Christina and Michael glimmers of hope for a better life.

There is a sense that the close home life the women have known since childhood is about to be torn apart. The narrator, the adult Michael, tells us this is indeed what happens.

Before the actors take to stage, the beautiful nostalgic set (Chandos Ross) has already told a story of depression era rural Donegal. The costumes (Livia Pravato) are perfectly on point and together with, Karlos Griffith (lighting) and Dan Schaumann (sound), the stage provides a wonderous transportation.

The women give are feisty performances all round, that are both memorable and poignant. I was at times torn on who to focus on, they were all believable in their preformaces, and I found it quite remarkable how they acted along side the younger Michael. I also have to give props to Donna and Áine who are really knitting, i’ll be expecting a pair of gloves any day! The Men in the production captured the audience and and tugged at the heart strings. Together they managed to take me to Donegal, Totally recommend checking out, bring your tissues.

The production runs two hours and forty-five minutes with one intermission.Produced by Geraldine Brown & Maureen Lukie. Directed by David Eden.

Staged Managed by Bridget Jankowski. Set Designed by Chandos Ross. Lighting Design by Karlos Griffith. Sound Designed by Dan Schaumann. Costumes Designed by Livia Pravato.

Dancing at Lughnasa continues on the Alumnae Theatre Mainstage until November 3; advance tickets available online or by calling 416-440-2888. Keep up with The Irish Players on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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New music and Toronto dates from Shreem

I discovered Shreem along with many others on Celtic Island this summer. Cue some social media following and fan girl-ing on the ferry back to the city! Now 2018 Shreem has a new release Gordon’s 808s, a #notsotrad up-tempo electronic remix/mashup of legendary piper, Gordon Duncan’s “The Flagon”. Gordon Duncan was well-known for breaking the boundaries of traditional piping music and 13 years later, his memory lives on and is embodied by Shreem breathing new life into this track. With the help of Santero’s “808 Bang” this track comes alive just in time to get everyone in the mood for St. Patty’s Day!

Along with the song release, Shreem wants to have some with it and is creating a dance challenge called #gordons808schallenge.  They are calling on all current and retired Irish, Celtic, Highland and Step Dancers & Groups to post a video on Instagram tagging @shreem_music and the hashtag  #gordons808schallenge.

Lastly, Shreem would love for everyone to challenge their friends or other groups in their area.

The track is available for free download on Shreem’s SoundCloud page!

Catch Shreem performing LIVE:

– 9 Mar – SPD Society’s Grand Marshal’s Ball – Toronto, ON, Canada

– 11 Mar – St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Toronto, ON, Canada

– 17 Mar – St. Patrick’s Day @ Belfast Love – Toronto, ON, Canada

http://shreemmusic.com

Follow Shreem on: Facebook Instagram  Spotify  Youtube

Little Gem From Toronto Irish Players

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing one of the most funny and poignant plays I have seen in. Really long time.

Little Gem is an award-winning play written by Dublin playwright Elaine Murphy.

It has been around for while, but this is its first Toronto run.

It’s a Dublin play, centred around three strong women within a family, Amber, Lorraine and Kay. By the time you leave the theatre you will feel like you know these women, you’ve met them before, you’ve lived through this. They talk of family, relationships, motherhood, work, home, addiction, immigration, and society. However do not let the fact that it’s a female led cast put you off, the men in the audience were laughing just as hard as the females.

The toronto Irish players have beautifully interpreted this play and the three leads Billie Jean, Rebecca and Barbara seem made for their parts.

With so much going on around the city, it’s so easy to overlook community theatre, but get out and support this group…..I’ve been converted and I’ll be keeping an eye out for they’re upcoming shows.

You can keep an eye out for all things TIP here

Let us know if you check it out, Sinéad xx

Paddy Box….Yes please?! 

One of the things that often comes up when a group of Irish expats get together is the chat of what we miss from home. Obviously there’s the big ones like family and friends but inevitably food will come up….for me it’s a Curley Wurley and Pickled Onion Monster Munch. 

Care Packages are always one of the best things to receive in the post, especially if your spending Christmas away from home. Your mam has definitely sent you a care package or two, and we know that serious effort goes into each item chosen. These items are sourced from all over and not only does she spend a fortune, but then posting the bloody thing would near break the bank!! 

Cue one of the best ideas I’ve seen in a long time, The Paddy Box….. these lads had the brainwave after seeing friends and family emigrating over the years! 

Each care package comes with 10 different goodies from home! You can also include a personal note which is then shipped ‘with Grá’ to anywhere on the world. 

Boxes start at €49.95 or CA$75.2 – €59.95 or CA$90.2 

If you want a Paddy Box in time for Christmas,( tell your ma) it needs to be ordered by 11th of December or for express delivery 20th of December

There’s a choice of classic Irish favourites like Barry’s tea, Tayto crisps, McDonnell’s Curry sauce and Cadbury’s chocolate, and more! 

Drop some major hints to your ma, by tagging her in this post and sure if she doesn’t get it, go’on order one for yourself       S xx

The Low Down on Shreem Celtic Remixing 

Having just been involved in the Amazing Celtic Island event on Toronto Island, I had to follow up with DJ Shreem who played an absolute blinder to close the night!! 


He had absolutely everyone on the dance floor and had more than a few new fan girls by the end of the night 😉
Having chatted to Jay a few days prior to the event I had to follow up and learn more

Firstly, you were class on the island! What made you take the direction to fuse electronic hip-hop and Celtic music?



 Jay: Fusing celtic, electronic and hip hop music has been an interest on mine for quite some time. I began in music playing in pipe bands and ever since then I’ve always wanted to do something different with celtic music and tunes. I’ve also always loved hip hop and got really in to electronic music when I started DJing at 17. For the past 7 or 8 years, I’ve been messing around with the idea, different sounds, arrangements etc. because I wanted to do something different with celtic style music, and I was already working with and making electronic music and hip hop beats, so I wanted to try mashing them together. I’ve always loved tunes, and wanted to blend the styles of music and production together to give tunes a sonically bigger sound and take them in the emotional direction that I felt from listening to a tune. When I’m making this music, producing the beats, arranging the trad parts etc. I often listen to just the tune, and see what emotions it stirs up in me, then I write my beats, synths, chords etc. around that emotion.

When did you realize that people were into you particular brand of music?

I’ve only recently realized that people were in to what I’m doing. I started making this type of music out of curiosity, and my want to work with celtic music in a different way, so the fact that people like it is a mega bonus. I’ve also done work producing for other artists such as fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, and through releasing works with him I saw an interest pop up in people as to what was happening with the music. When I put out my first record ‘Shreem – celtic remixing’ I then really saw an interest from people as to what I was making, and it’s really cool to see people interested in what I’m doing. It’s great to talk to people about it and have dialogue about it all

Who is your biggest musical influence

Musical influences for me, the number of people and things is too high to list. I get influence from a lot of things in the everyday world, and a ton of different artists. Its very important for me to listen to all kinds of different stuff and stay open minded. Celtic tunes come in all kinds of keys, tempo’s, arrangements etc. so I can simply make one type of beat for every piece, I have to try to get out of my comfort zone when I’m writing my beats and arrangements, because celtic tunes come in so many shapes and sizes.

What advice would you give to others trying to carve out a career in music?

 I’m not sure if there’s any one piece of advice I could give to someone trying to make a life in music. I think staying true to yourself and what you want to do is very important. Pick your lane, know and trust yourself and stick with it. Make or play music that you want to play, if you need to do some other gigs to pay rent, that’s always fine, but keep your head in what you love. I think a lot of finding a life in music is finding yourself, once you know your route, your passion and direction, you’ll be okay. Also, work hard and don’t take yourself too serious.

Lastly and most importantly, when and where are you playing next

Next I’ve got a few gigs with Ashley MacIsaac in Montreal and Ottawa area, then Shreem is headed to the east Coast for music week and some other events. I’m also currently writing my second album, so I’m in the studio a lot, which is where I like to be. Keep your eyes open for the next record!!

Definitely keep your eyes out for this guy!

https://www.shreemmusic.com/

S xx

Bitching and stitching at the Irish Design House

One thing I’ve wanted to learn for ages is how to sew, I had images of a few classes and viola, professional seamstress! Alas that was NOT the case, but I did learn the basics of pattern design, sewing AND I made a pretty nifty tote bag.

Our Bitch and Stitch group was the brain child of Sinéad at the Irish Design house. Sinéad, (who by the way has the patience of a saint) led a group of 6 novice sewers and took them right through the process of learning to sew.  Due to time constraints we decided to start small and create tote bags, Sinéad led us through the process from drawing up a pattern to producing a bag.

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We met at The Irish design house for 3 sessions, most of us had never threaded a needle and one or two had tinkered around on a sewing machine. It wasn’t long till the chats were flowing. It was unreal how all the girls immediately were helping one another out, in both sewing and in settling into Toronto life.

The classes took place out the back of the Irish Design house, in a huge workspace, wall to wall with materials, drawings and machines. Sinéad has an impressive collection of sewing machines and really knows the quirks and tricks of each. She let us all get a feel for the machines and gave us ample time to play around and practice the stitches we’d just been taught.  We  were given plenty of time to work and by the end of each class, even though we had ran late I’m sure a few of us would have worked on.

The course cost $115 and included all materials. Just incase you need any more incentive to join a Bitch and Stitch group, sewing may be good for your heart!
A clinical study commissioned by the Home Sewing Association (HSA) reveals that women who sew – both skilled as well as novice sewers — experience a significant drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration rate when compared to women who participate in other leisure-time activities. Heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration rate are three key factors in the measurement of stress. The study’s results appear to indicate that sewing helps women to relax while they focus on a creative activity. Not bad for a evenings craic 🙂

For more details Contact Irish Design House

Check out the Bitch and Stitch Facebook Group

Thanks for hosting Sinéad and for the photos!

Sinéad (not from THE IDH 😂)  Xx

 

 

Have you had a Knuckle sandwich?! 

969 Coxwell Avenue, East York

Since moving to Toronto, I’ve been on the eternal quest for a decent Chicken burger! This search has honestly taken me all over the city…but finally I think I’ve found the place! 
Knuckle Sandwich in East York has a menu dedicated to soups, salads, and a selection of massive sandwiches. They also have a deadly selection of craft beers.  


I had the Fried chicken on roasted poblano slaw, topped with chipotle honey and garlic aïoli. $11. It did not disappoint! 


The place is small a rustic-looking room and the whole time we were there, the kitchen was busy cranking out sandwiches and filling take out orders. The street-facing patio is licensed for 14 and was buzzing.

If you get the chance, def check this place out and as usual let us know what ya think?! S x