"The Voyage of Garbhglas" at the Irish Hunger Memorial


Barry and I headed for the Irish Hunger Memorial shortly after noon on Monday (after my visit to City Hall Park) to see an excerpt of "The Voyage of Garbhglas", choreographed by Christopher Williams and presented, courtesy of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, as a part of the River To River Festival.

It was a total delight, a magical allusion to ancient Irish faerie lore performed in a magical Irish place on a beautiful afternoon, and I recommend it to anyone who can make downtown for the two performances remaining, Wednesday and Thursday, at 12:30 each day. The Memorial is located inside Battery Park City, 290 Vesey Street at North End Avenue, an easy, almost straight walk west from the World Trade Center stop of the E train.

The performers were Ursula Eagly, Kira Blazek, Caitlin Scranton, Michael Ingle, Sydney Skybetter, Moses Kaplan, and Andrew Smith. I believe Michael Ingle was the celtic youth, and the three other male dancers were what I'll call "the tubers". Christopher Williams himself and Matthew Tutsky played troubadour harps of different sizes, and the music was by Gregory Spears, who can be seen in some of the images directing the singers.

Barry has posted a video, on Bloggy, of a short segment of the 30-minute performance and has a link to his Flickr set.

As someone who tries to take advantage of what New York has to offer culturally, I think a lot about how everyone who would like to see art in performance (in any medium) can find a way to do so without having to deal with discouraging lines, fifth-balcony-in-the-rear seats, or even sold-out notices. In my own case it helps that I'm usually interested in work that most people are unlikely to even be aware of, and I'm lucky to have the leisure to seek it out. But what happens when something really good becomes well known, and suddenly everyone wants to see or hear it?

I was considering this subject with Barry when we left the performance of "Garbhglas". His answer was that the ideal would be that there would be so much art out there, and really good art, that there would never have to be a line or a crowd. We'd all have so many options that we wouldn't have to keep bumping into each other, or fight for tickets. Of course that ideal assumes we all think and feel for ourselves and aren't seduced by the inevitable hype - including, I suppose, in this case, my own modest efforts at making a ballyhoo.

This time the subject had come up because in Monday's surprisingly intimate, georgic performance by Williams' dancers and musicians, while everything took place outdoors, it seemed that there was really room on the Memorial's platform for only about a hundred people to fully experience it, not including whatever the numbers were for those standing on the street below.

While I imagine there must be other things to do at lunch time Wendsday and Thursday, if you go, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to plan on getting to "Garbhglas" early for its final two performances.