March 2015        


Counter culture

Paul Doran

Counter Culture at the New Theatre, Dublin, Monday 16 March

This was a very enjoyable evening, organised by the James Connolly Festival, which is fund-raising for its major list of public events taking place in May.
     The evening began with the poet Theo Dorgan, who I was very impressed with. I have heard of Theo for a few years but never really listened to his poetry until a while back, when the Connolly Media Group recorded some.
     Theo began with poems on the Spanish War by Pablo Neruda, which were beautiful poems, and then read a poem by Frank Harte. Harte’s poem was excellent; you may recall it was Harte who said, “Those in power write the history, and those who suffer write the songs. And, given our history, we have an awful lot of songs.”
     I went home and read some of Theo’s poems, and will continue to do so.
     Theo also touched on how this state is trying to rewrite our history with all the “commemorative events.” It reminded me of what Engels wrote (in Notes for the “History of Ireland”): “The bourgeoisie turns everything into a commodity, hence also the writing of history. It is part of its being, of its condition for existence, to falsify all goods: it falsified the writing of history. And the best-paid historiography is that which is best falsified for the purposes of the bourgeoisie.”
     The main event of the night was the one-woman play Counter Culture, written and performed by Katie O’Kelly. This was a breathtaking performance, dealing with the issue of mostly women working in a department store in Dublin and how they manage to keep their sanity in their endless struggle to survive the day, and every day.
     The company wants to bring in the zero-hour contracts that are becoming all too prevalent in our society. Katie shows great imagination in visualising for the audience how people are constantly intimidated in the retail industry. A fantastic performance.
     Finally, Dave Gibney of Mandate give a very informative summary of the various strategies that companies use to keep their union members quiet, and outlined the reason that the Dunne’s Stores workers are going on strike on the 2nd of April. The workers there need your support, and I urge you to go out and show solidarity.

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