Experiencing Irish Culture Posted on January 22nd, 2014 by

by Laura Herbers

One of the best parts about our program is that in addition to practical acting classes we have several days per week with scheduled time for cultural visits lead by an employee of the Gaiety School of Acting. We have had the privilege of seeing the book of Kells and the old library at Trinity College. The gorgeous long hall of the library was filled with 200,000 of Ireland’s oldest books as well as around 50 authentic stone busts of writers and philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Shakespeare. At St. Michan’s Church—reconstructed building created in the 1600’s—we toured the underground vaults that house the mummified remains of many, including a crusader with whom we were able to shake hands. We visited the lauraChester Beatty Library which has an impressive display of documents from ancient cultures, and also had time to tour the Irish National Museum of Archaeology. In addition to these visits we have in our schedule visits to the National Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art to look forward to! Our entire group agrees that these cultural visits are a great part of the experience because they are fascinating parts of Dublin that we may not have experienced otherwise. To further the cultural experience we have gained from these visits, we also learned a lot about the 1913 Dublin lockout which caused extreme poverty throughout the city when we saw Jimmy Fay’s adaption of the play The Risen People (version by Jim Sheridan) at the Abbey Theatre. This was a performance that I enjoyed a lot because of the raw humanity and true experience of poverty and loss I felt the characters were able to provoke through their language and movements. I also found it very interesting to see this perspective of a piece of Irish history that I knew very little about. We also saw a performance of Iscariot by Patrick Sutton at the Gaiety School of Acting. It is a forty-five minute one-man monologue about the guilt of Judas Iscariot. In a talk back with the Playwright–who was also the director–and the actor we learned that part of the inspiration of this piece was to speak about the stigma of Catholic guilt throughout Ireland. It was extremely fascinating to watch both of these powerful and moving performances of history and culture within Ireland. From mummies in a church crypt to stirring theatrical performance, this J-Term has been a cultural experience unlike any other.


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