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Real World artist and Afro Celt vocalist Iarla O Lioniard is set to join writer Tim O'Grady and a host of brilliant Irish musicians in theatres around the UK. Their show on Saturday 22 January in London will be the last ever musical performance at the popular venue of the Union Chapel in Islington.
In a recent interview Tim O'Grady describes the show:
"It's not a play," he stated firmly, his accent wavering between Irish and American - using "toon" for "tune".

"It's about an old man who migrated to England from Ireland.

"The character is a musician and what he's doing is remembering, so the tunes that are played are part of that and remind him of what he's left behind and what he is.

"I will be reading from the text, some musicians will be playing and we will project images onto the stage - some of Steve Pyke's photographs and also some images from a film which was made of the book.

"There will be guitar, accordion and violin, and singers who alternate different performances between songs and pieces of the book, with projection going on all the time.

"It's a performance of the book but not like a book - but it suits because of the way the book is written in that each of the incidents are more or less self-contained."

To me, the book appeared to be almost like a biography with its first-hand narrative, but Timothy assured me it's a work of fiction.

"I was actually born and raised in Chicago, and I then went to live in Donegal when I finished university. Then I moved to London but I was in Ireland a lot over a 20-year period.

"The book came about because my publisher was speaking to Steve about doing a book of his photos and he asked me if I would write some text to accompany it. And over a long period of time, it transformed into a novel."

Vocalist Iarla O'Lionaird (pronounced Earla O Leonard), who had been photographed for the book, then sang at its launch in Dublin, accompanied by musicians, which planted a new idea in Timothy's head.

"It was such a different experience and seemed to send the words out much better. So we rented the Shepherd's Bush Empire to perform it. It was a crazy idea at the time, but now, here we are."

The performances will also feature Karen Casey on vocals, Martin Hayes on violin, Dennis Cahill on guitar and Mairtin O'Connor on accordion. Full details of the show are on our tour section.


The original book by Tim O Grady and Steve Pyke and the CD of the soundtrack to the subsequent film are both available at the WOMAD Shop.

Published 21st Jan 2005, 11:08am »