Getting your fix of culture can be challenging during lockdown. That's why our British Council Ireland team have decided to share some of the ways they've been engaging with, and experiencing, culture during lockdown.
Mags Walsh - Country Director
The BFI player has been keeping me occupied a lot this month. While I went there to watch a specific film, I’ve been distracted by the incredible archive that’s now available, much of it for free. One of the oddest and most brilliant corners is dedicated to exercise on film. Watching Haggis Hurling from 1980 and calisthenics from the 1900s has made me feel better about not fully embracing Joe Wicks in lockdown.
Thanks to a tip from my friend Anne, I have also been binging on Jessie Ware’s podcast Table Manners. Pre-Covid, guests would come to a meal with Jessie and her mum and discuss food, life and everything else. During Covid, they’ve been virtual connections and conversations are a great mix of the profound and prosaic. I particularly loved her talking to actor Michael Sheen from his home in Wales about his roles both as actor and activist and the role of youth arts in his life.
We had the pleasure of hosting Dr Jason Arday in Dublin in January for our event on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education with the Royal Irish Academy. We’ll be publishing the paper from that event shortly but in the meantime you can watch this excellent webinar from Wonkhe which features him and many others discussing Black Lives Matter and taking action to tackle racism in HE.
Liz McBain - Senior Programme Manager
I was very sad to hear about the passing of John Hume, a man who was so instrumental to the peace process in Northern Ireland and deservedly named the ‘greatest person in the history of Ireland’ by an RTE poll back in 2010. John was a Derry man through and through and so my first shout out comes from the Maiden City. ‘Songs, Tunes & Words’ is a series of live concerts (8-15 August) streamed via the Gasyard Wall Féile's Facebook page. My personal pick is the amazing punk band, the Touts who will perform at 9pm on the 15th!
Back in 2017, I worked with the Bush Theatre, London on the Hijabi Monologues, a theatre production on the real-life experiences of Muslim women. You can actually still watch all of the London stories. I’ve kept a keen eye on the work of the Bush since and their efforts to support new plays and artists and address important social issues never fails to impress. A few weeks back, I came across ‘The Protest’, six powerful new short films commissioned by the theatre. Each is a response by Black British artists to the killing of George Floyd, the subsequent protests and the impact of ingrained systemic racism. Definitely worth a watch.
Aysylu Mutigullina - Programme and Partnerships Manager
Aysylu is actually on leave this month and, therefore, is too busy experiencing (local) culture to actually write about it. Expect double the content from her next month.
Aoife Ward - Office and Project Administration
My favourite cinemas are starting to re-open at the minute and I honestly don’t know if I’m going to remember the etiquette of watching a movie with other people around me. I’m actually quite glad they’re re-opening though because the past month has really been an odd spiral for me into the world of teen slasher movies that I find in deep dark corners online.
I don’t know what got me into them at first – I’ve never been a fan of horror or gore or misogyny – I think maybe it’s one of those “this phase of lockdown” things if I’m honest. However I have found some hidden gems in amongst the chaos like Ready or Not and Happy Death Day. Both are really fun takes on the Final Girl trope without nearly as much of the baggage the Final Girl usually carries with her (which is actually some really interesting baggage if you’re willing to do extensive reading on what the Final Girl Trope represents in slasher cinema like yours truly). Maybe my favourite new take on slasher cinema though is the 2015 film The Final Girls which, as you can imagine, is a tongue and cheek take on a lot of the more patriarchal ideas that run through slasher films, the Final Girl Trope in particular.
There’s a lot more I could say on the Final Girl and on slasher films in general, both old and new, though maybe my favourite thing that I’ve gained from this deep dive into the genre is my new found appreciation for Final Girl songs. It’s become a pastime of mine now to listen to a song and identify whether or not it’d be the song to start playing when I pick up the shotgun at the end of the movie. I think my final song would be Raise Hell by Dorothy. If you want to figure out yours I found a playlist on Spotify that can help give you some inspiration.