Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Joe Legwabe's Bones

"I just happen to have a djemba in my hand that I was tuning," says composer, Joe Legwabe down the phone from his London base. "Listen, it should be like this…" After which comes a noise that sounds like hundreds of tiny rubber balls being fired in waves at a drum.

"I never had to learn to play the djemba," says Joe. "I just started playing it one day. And I came home and told my mother and she said 'Of course you can play, because I taught you by playing the djemba to you all the time when I was pregnant.' And I said 'why didn't you tell me!"

Legwabe, a virtuoso on the djemba, a mushroom-shaped hand drum, has been in Dublin recently, working as musical advisor on the latest from Calypso Theatre Company, Bones. The South African, who has worked on the soundtracks to films such as The Constant Gardner and Cry Freedom, created the score for the original London production of Kay Adshead's play about the legacy of apartheid. So when it came to the Irish premier, he was the obvious choice to put the local ensemble through its paces.

The first issue was that Solomon Ijigade who will sing the songs that Legwabe himself sang in the original production, is Nigerian, and therefore speaks none of the three South African languages that feature in the lyrics. "So I had to teach him how to pronounce words in Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho to start with. It was difficult for him…" says Soweto-born Legwabe. And when that was sorted, it was just a matter of getting up to speed on the djemba…

Adshead's play tells the story of how two women deal with a past that refuses to stay buried, both literally and emotionally. Legwabe's songs, the composer says, reflect that. "The play is about a lot of people who suffered and died and who are kind of trapped in the play. So I wrote the song Hambami Kahle for them all, which means 'go in peace' and wishes that finally all these people will be able to do that, to go in peace."

* Bones, Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin,

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Denis Conway's Making History

On and off since July, when Ouroborus theatre company performed Brian Friel's Making History at Charlesfort, Kinsale Cork to commemorate the Battle of Kinsale, the company's production has been touring Ireland, performing at sites associated with the Flight of the Earls. Now, with Denis Conway (who stars as Hugh O'Neill) back from a little sojourn in Druid's The Walworth Farce at Edinburgh, the production is back on the road.

The production makes it all the way to Drumcondra Castle (which, as any fool knows, was the location at which O'Neill and Mabel Bagenal were married) for 1 September. On 13 September, it finally reaches Rathmullan Fort, Donegal, the point from which the Earls finally took flight 400 years (almost to the day) previously, and from where Ouroborus' production heads to Europe. Not a sea-route to the continent that really took off, that one.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

The Loy's Busman's Holiday The Third

This week's chat with Keelin Shanley on RTE Radio 1's Drivetime is now online at:

Drivetime DRM discussion

and like it says on the link, it's about the growing trend away from DRM, lead by iTunes and followed more recently by Universal's gBox.

More of the same (but slightly different) next Friday on Drivetime (RTE Radio 1, 16.30-18.30)

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Loy's busman's Holiday Continues

This week, on Drivetime with Keelin Shanley, we have been mostly talking about milk, form the World Breast Milk Project, to Jordan the strange case of baby formula product placement, to China newfound love of dairy..

Milk in all its guises

And keep an ear out for Drivetime this Friday, from 16.30, when myself and Keelin will be discussing DRM (digital rights management), the technology that some consumer advocates call "Defective By Design"

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Loy's busman's holiday

The more theatrical elements of the loy are taking themselves a little break until the end of August, when all them festivals kick off (and the new series of Soundstories starts!).

Until then, lend some ears to Drivetime on RTE Radio 1, with Keelin Shanley, where i'll be bringing some regular culturetech, starting last Monday, 6 August, with a chat about social networking. Now, i know you think you know it all already...but don't be so hasty. RTE has the item archived here:

Social networking

(but you'll have to scroll down a wee bit...)

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