How to Tell a Tale: Beowulf

This year marks the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, an event that shaped the trajectory of the nation’s history in innumerable ways. Three productions will be touring to Adelaide this Fringe as part of the Irish Theatre Showcase to commemorate the event that changed Ireland forever.

Bryan Burroughs will be bringing his one-man show Beowulf: The Blockbuster, presented by Pat Moylan. It was the only production out of more than 3,000 shows to receive six five-star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014, and has garnered excellent reviews from critics at The Irish Times and The New York Times. The Irish Theatre Showcase comprises two other productions alongside BeowulfUnderneath by Pat Kinevane and Little Thing, Big Thing by Donal O’Kelly, each celebrating the cultural traditions of Irish storytelling in masterful and unique ways told through theatre. All plays originated from the Irish Fishamble Theatre Company, with Burroughs’s show being brought to life by Fishamble arts initiative Show in a Bag in 2013. “I’m a massive fan of all the actors coming over, like Pat Kinevane, who’s doing Underneath, is a phenomenal performer, someone I really aspired to and looked up to a lot when I was studying and learning my craft,” Burroughs says. “So, to be getting to travel with him and perform with him is a massive privilege for me. Donal O’Kelly and Sorcha Fox are a fantastic double act, they’re such phenomenal performers, so their show by all accounts is fantastic.” Burroughs is eager to bring Beowulf: The Blockbuster to Australia, and states that while he acknowledges the historical significance of the Easter Rising’s centenary, the production uses Irish storytelling conventions to portray a universal experience that every audience can relate to. “As much as I’m aware of the celebrations over here in Ireland, it’s more, I suppose, a tale that we hoped [would be] universally engaging in any kind of place because it’s fundamentally about a father/son relationship that can be connected to mother/daughter relationships, or mother/son or father/daughter.” Beowulf is about a dying father’s last chance to connect with his son, so he tells the classic Beowulf as a final bedtime story. The show’s exploration of familial relations and the power of storytelling is what provides relatable and universal aspects to audiences across the world. “What [audiences] can definitely connect to is that passion of storytelling. That, inside the theatrical piece, there’s a great yarn, a great story being told in a very traditional sense. A father [is] in his son’s bedroom and it’s his last bedtime story to his son, so he’s really going to tell it, he’s going to go all out to tell the story.” Burroughs’s personal highlight of performing the production took place in a theatre in his hometown shortly before Christmas last year. He states that despite the “epic” size of the venue, the audience engaged in such a way as to make the space feel smaller, transforming the performance into a highly personal experience. “The play became really, really intimate, really small and I thought, ‘Wow! That’s fascinating.’ So that made me feel very connected to the traditional Irish tale of telling the story around the campfire.”   Beowulf: The Blockbuster The German Club Tuesday, February 23 to Sunday, March 13 adelaidefringe.com.au

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