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Carlow Arts Festival Announces 2018 Programme

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Carlow Arts Festival Announces 2018 Programme
Carlow: The First Big Cultural Event of the Summer

Reaching out – Celebrating Diversity and Accessibility In The Arts
Over 75% Of Festival Events Free to Attend

International work from Catalonia, France, the UK, Belgium and Canada
Musical Mix: From King King Company to Stockton’s Wing

Carlow Arts Festival: the first big cultural event of the Irish Summer, takes place 6 -10 June 2018.  Now in its 39th year, Carlow Arts Festival is reaching out internationally to celebrate the huge diversity and accessibility of the world of the Arts.

Visitors can immerse themselves in international and award-winning artistic adventures from Catalonia, France, the UK, Belgium and Canada alongside some of the best of Irish talent. Critically acclaimed and award winning companies, performers and artists, whose work celebrates and highlights diversity and accessibility, have been handpicked for this years dynamic festival programme.

One of this year’s festival highlights is performed by the award-winning, integrated circus company Extraordinary Bodies (UK). The company have been working with community members of all abilities since last year to create this large-scale, ground-breaking new outdoor circus show called ‘What am I Worth?’ on Saturday 9 June at Festival HQ. Carlow Arts Festival is partnering with a number of UK venues and festivals to present this work, which will have its World Premiere in Carlow before embarking on a UK tour ending at the National Theatre in London. This highly skilled and beautifully touching circus show for all ages features an exceptional cast of diverse and extraordinary bodies.

Carlow Arts Festival invite you to experience international and award-winning shows from: Extraordinary Bodies, Kamchàtka, Quote Unquote Collective in association with Why Not Theatre, Compagnie Dyptik and Tombs Creatius, visual art projects (ART WORKS Exhibition, ‘The Dog Project’); lunchtime theatre ‘(My Left Nut’, ‘The Trick Rider’, ‘My Place in Space’); family-friendly and pop up events (‘The Gramophone’, ‘The Strange Travels of Mr. Tonet’, ‘Wet Floor’); film (‘Song Of Granite’, the outdoor cinema Mystery Movie); spectacle and procession from the inimitable Spraoi; live musical performances (King Kong Company, Stockton’s Wing, Lisa O’Neill and Radie Peat, and R.S.A.G with fireworks!)

Announcing details of Carlow Arts Festival 2018, Festival Director Jo Mangan said: “The 2018 Carlow Arts Festival is reaching out far and wide to bring the best of International work to our festival this year, along with the best of Irish. It is an absolute joy to be able to programme the highest calibre theatre, music, visual arts, circus, spectacle and family friendly work from across the world , due to the tremendous increase in support from many of our funders and sponsors alike. Again, proudly, over 75% of the programme is free. New for this year is our scheme Pick your Price, where a sliding scale – at your discretion rates, applies. This allows our audience to choose from 3 possible entry prices. We will have Actual Cost, Subsidised and Super Subsidised tickets on sale for much of the ticketed shows. It is of crucial importance to me that we offer an affordable price point for access to all arts events, particularly for those who may believe something is not for them. I firmly believe that the transformative power of the arts needs to be accessible to all, and at Carlow Arts Festival that is what we have set out to do.”


The family highlight on 9 June is Extraordinary Bodies with their new show ‘What Am I Worth?’  The company return to Carlow after developing the show with local community members in 2017. In 2018 they and others will perform with seven extraordinary circus artists who dance, fly, catch, play and sing on a flying, tipping, and spinning stage, as they grapple with what it means to value each other in a world of instant judgements. Carlow Arts Festival is partnering with a number of UK venues and festivals to present this work, which will have its World Premiere in Carlow before embarking on a UK tour ending at the National Theatre in London. This highly skilled and beautifully touching circus show for all ages features an exceptional cast of diverse and extraordinary bodies.

Kamchàtka Street Theatre Company, an award-winning artist collective formed in Barcelona, bring their critically acclaimed group improvisation performance to Ireland. Eight characters are lost in the city, each carrying their own suitcase. Are they passers-by or immigrants? Performed more than 400 times in 27 countries, don’t miss Kamchàtka on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 June throughout Carlow town.

Tombs Creatius, a company from Catalonia, bring ‘The Trip’ to Ireland for the first time. This piece invites the spectator on a “stellar trip” in a horsebox, and rewards them with a profound experience. Created for one audience member at a time, Tombus Creatius bring creativity, fun and interaction back to the streets. ‘The Trip’ will be at Festival HQ from Saturday 9 June – Sunday 10 June.

Quote Unquote Collective in association with Why Not Theatre, a Toronto-based company, bring their internationally acclaimed and multi-award winning production ‘Mouthpiece’ to VISUAL on Sunday 10 June. In the wake of her mother’s death, Mouthpiece follows one woman, for one day, as she tries to find her voice. Interweaving a-cappella harmony, dissonance, text, and physicality, two performers express the inner conflict that exists within one modern woman’s head.

‘D-Construction’, created in Saint-Étienne by dance company Compagnie Dyptik, is performed on Sunday 10 June. ‘D-Construction’ is a massively energetic hip hop dance performance inspired by the rebellion of populations. A metal scaffolding standing in the middle of the performance site leads the 6 dancers to explore new spaces and moves.

From Friday 8 until Sunday 10 June, over 100 dogs will be unleashed around the streets of Carlow as part of ’The Dog Project’. Tom Campbell, a Scottish born artist based locally, will facilitate the making of 100 papier mache dogs through intensive workshops with Carlow schools. Each dog is handcrafted in papier mache, an environmentally friendly way of making sculpture, for this unique visual arts installation and community led project.

Donnacha Cahill’s giant audio-visual sculpture ’The Gramophone’, measuring over 3 metres, will pop up round the town of Carlow and at Festival HQ from Friday 8 – Sunday 10 June. After making its debut at Galway International Arts Festival, ‘The Gramophone’ has been on a journey discovering the many towns and rural areas of Ireland and engaging with the public. Share your own music, or sit down, relax or dance to the music on offer. (Sponsored by Blacknight).


O’Hara’s Pavilion, sponsored by O’Hara’s Irish Craft Beer, at Carlow College will, once again, come alive with music this summer.

Image may contain: one or more people and people standingKing Kong Company bring their bold new show, new tracks and same crazy that saw 10,000 revellers screaming their hearts and lungs out at their Electric Picnic mid-afternoon rave, to Carlow on Friday 8 June.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, beard and textLegendary Irish trad band Stockton’s Wing, who celebrate over 40 years together, will take to the stage on Saturday 9 June. Festival HQ will light up with excitement.

R.S.A.G (Rarely Seen Above Ground) performs his exciting percussive show in time with the late night fireworks display for the Saturday Night SpectacleImage may contain: one or more people and night

On Sunday 10 June, Navá, an Irish/Persian ensemble will play a unique show at Carlow Arts Festival. Their music weaves Irish melodies, Persian ‘radifs’, new compositions and breathtaking improvisations into a unique tapestry of sound not to be missed.

Image may contain: 2 people, child, close-up and outdoorOn Sunday evening two of Ireland’s most interesting voices close the weekend music programme. Lisa O’Neill is a folk singer from Cavan.  Having released her debut, record in 2009, she steadily built a dedicated audience with her unique sound, strong songwriting and collaborations with some of Ireland’s best artists including Glen Hansard, Damien Dempsey and Katie Kim. Radie Peat is the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with Lankum, a four-piece traditional folk group from Dublin. In 2017, she supported The Divine Comedy on their UK and European tour, Glen Hansard on his Irish tour, and guested at the Shane McGowan 60th birthday celebrations in the National Concert Hall alongside Sinead O’Connor, Nick Cave and Johnny Depp. Her performance at Carlow Arts Festival marks her first festival show this year before Lankum play Body&Soul, Electric Picnic and numerous festivals in the UK, Europe and the States.

Resident DJ across the weekend is Aoife Nic Canna –  a leading force in the Irish dance music scene since its initial emergence in the early 1990s and she continues to open up new paths for the scene with a range of club nights and DJ projects. Aoife has played across the country in the course of her career with residencies at The Rock Garden, The Kitchen, and Ri-Ra under her belt.  She has also worked extensively in radio, on Jazz FM, PowerFM, and Near FM.


Theatre, pop-up performances and free Family fun are a big focus of Carlow Arts Festival again this year with a range of eclectic and free family friendly events taking place. Festival HQ is the place to be for the whole weekend –  Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June.

On Saturday 9 June, experience ’L’après-midi d’un foehn’ at VISUAL. This beautiful, award winning show from France explores ‘What is the life expectancy of a plastic bag?’ This production, which has wowed audiences of all ages, all over the world sees a virtuosic performer create little plastic bag characters in front of the audience, which fly, dance, float and respond to the movement of the air.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoorSpraoi, the award-winning Irish performance company, will create a processional piece as part of the Saturday Night Spectacle on 9 June. ‘BIRDS’ will hit Carlow streets as the light wanes, bringing the town to witness RSAG…and Fireworks at the Festival HQ. Weaving through streets, the processional show celebrates nature and river-life with a mix of music, stunning floats and energetic performance. Leaders in Irish street-arts, Spraoi will showcase local talent as part of this celebratory performance.

On Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June, families can explore “The Strange Travel of Mr Tonet’ at Festival HQ. Mr Tonet has travelled the world having amazing adventures, discover what he’s got up to by playing on beautifully constructed wooden games. Each box holds a story, peep inside to discover a magical world created with robotics, sound, light and movement.

‘Wet Floor’ is an hilarious comedy that will have you on the edge of your seat and fill you with laughter! The famous Catalonian clown Christina Solé presents her solo clown show for all the family at Festival HQ on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June.


World-class visual arts will feature stronger than ever in this year’s programme. The 2018 open call resulted in almost 600 entries from all over the world. Visitors can discover ‘Encountering the Land’, The ART WORKS Exhibition and Art Prizes, sponsored by Hotron in the Main Gallery of  VISUAL from 6  June – 31 August. Works chosen look at our rural landscape and how it sustains us. In an exhibition that includes photography, painting, film and performance, ideas relating to, our agrarian history, the rural as a sanctuary and the land as provider, are presented. Alongside artists selected from open submission, are works from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Collection. Older works from the 80s and 90s offer an opportunity to consider the changing concerns of artists reflected in their depictions of our rural heritage. The selectors for Art Works 2018 are artist Orla Barry, Sean Kissane, Curator, Irish Museum of Modern Art and Emma Lucy O’Brien, Curator VISUAL, Carlow.

Selected Artists: Bastian Birk Theusen, Maximilian Le Cain, Fergus Doyle, Ella de Burca, Lisa Fingleton,  Laura Fitgerald, Ruth le Gear, Saidhbhín Gibson, Eileen Hutton, Bernadette Kiely, Catriona Leahy, Maria McKinney, Yvette Monahan,  Miriam O’Connor, Sarah O’ Flaherty, Kenneth O’ Hallaron, Laurence O’Toole, Curro Rodriguez, Bennie Reilly, Blaise Smith, Deirdre Southey, Aine Stapleton.

Selected works from Arts Council Collection by Charles Brady, Gerard Dillon, James Dixon, Mairead O’hEocha, Martin Gale, Patrick Hall, Alice Maher, Patrick Pye, Nano Reid.

There will be two awards, sponsored by Hotron, for outstanding work presented: The ART WORKS Award of €3000 and the Éigse Prize of €1000 will be presented for work by a recent graduate.


Join Carlow Arts Festival for a spot of lunchtime theatre in O’Hara’s Pavilion. 

Don’t miss ‘My Left Nut’ by Michael Patrick & Oisín Kearney on Saturday 9 June. The True Story of a Belfast boy growing up with no father to guide him, and a giant ball to weigh him down. ‘My Left Nut’ is a heartwarming and poignant play, which has as much to say about motherhood as it does masculinity.  Also on  Saturday, audiences can enjoy’ The Trick Rider’ –  a tall tale featuring watersnakes, burning passion, deaths by poison and drowning and some of the most unusual dental practices ever recorded.

Sunday 10 June also brings a show for family audiences of all ages and levels of STEM knowledge with ‘My Place In Space’. Exploring the story of our place in space, the engaging and witty Dr Niamh Shaw merges astrophysics with particle physics in a highly interactive event aimed at all the family. You are sure to learn at least one fun new thing about where you are in space…no matter how old you think you are.


On Thursday 7 June, Carlow Arts Festival will screen ‘Song Of Granite’ by acclaimed filmmaker Pat Collins at VISUAL. With Carlow based, Tadhg O’Sullivan responsible for the editing on Song Of Granite, there will be much local interest in the film. ‘Song of Granite’ revolves around the life of the great traditional Irish singer, Joe Heaney. The harsh landscape combined with the myths, fables and songs of his Connemara childhood helped shape this complex and fascinating character. Enigmatic and complex, Heaney’s devotion to his art came at a huge personal cost.

On Friday 8 June, the Outdoor Cinema makes a welcome return again this year. Grab a picnic blanket or deck chair and join family and friends at the Outdoor Cinema as the winning mystery movie (voted for by visitors to www.carlowartsfestival.com) is unveiled.


Local participation is strong as ever in this year’s Carlow Arts Festival with the South East of the country featuring throughout the programme.

Leaders in Irish street-arts, Waterford basedSpraoi, working with local talent from Carlow, will create  a processional piece as part of the Saturday Night Spectacle on 9 June. Weaving through streets of Cartlow, ‘BIRDS  celebrates nature and river-life with a mix of music, stunning floats and energetic performance. As  the light wanes, the procession will bring the town to witness festival favourite and Kilkenny man Jeremy Hickey (RSAG), who is creating a very special musical and visual set to accompany the Fireworks.

The world premiere of Extraordinary Bodies show ‘What Am I Worth’ on 9 June involves members of local arts and community groups Dance Hall Project, Delta Centre and Equinox Theatre.  

Exciting opportunities are still available for participants to get involved in  Spraoi and working with Extraordinary Bodies email info@carlowartsfestival.com directly.

100 Carlow school children will be working tirelessly to create 100 papier mache dogs through intensive workshops with Tom Campbell, a Scottish born artist based locally. Each dog is handcrafted in papier mache, an environmentally friendly way of making sculpture, for this unique visual arts installation and community led project called ‘The Dog Project’.

Film at the Carlow Arts Festival enjoys much local interest with acclaimed Feature Film, ‘Song Of Granite’ edited by Carlow based filmmaker Tadhg O’Sullivan. The festival will also premiere the work of Carlow film maker, Nuala Dalton with her short film ‘B’fhearr Liom na Sléibhte’, a film that is beautiful and rich in culture, where you will discover more about the musical traditions around the Blackstairs Mountains.

A New Writing Showcase, curated by Dr Derek Coyle will be presented for the first time on Sunday evening 10th June at the O’Haras Pavilion. The Carlow Writers’ Co-Operative join with special guests for this unique event. Writers involved will present well crafted and courageous work brimming with passion, enthusiasm and intelligence.

Carlow Arts Festival: the first big cultural event of the summer runs from 6 June to 10 June 2018 and is filled with cultural treats for everyone.


Visit www.carlowartsfestival.com for the full programme and ticket details.

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Carlow Arts Festival is funded by the Arts Council.

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