The island of Ireland's only full-time Irish language professional theatre company is nestled in the ‘gracious embrace of a compact and bijou Presbyterian Church’ on Belfast’s Falls Rd. The An Culturlann-based company has been entertaining, endearing and exasperating audiences for 12 years with a generous helping of the Classics, the Absurd, the Agit-prop, the ‘never-been-seen-on-stage-before’ stuff, shows for wains (kids), shows about myths and legends and even a show about Elvis. Twice a year it packs up the big van and tours the country, taking Belfast, the Irish and a ‘cracker of a show’ out on the road.
So what’s the deal about having a company that does stuff in a ‘forgotten’ language and isn’t it just too ‘pal-litical’ anyway? Aishling Ghear’s response is that “what we get to work with every day is a ‘treasure’, it’s been around for 800-odd years, longer than most National Trust properties, and we get to develop it, cherish it and create a future for it - for everybody.
And, for those of us who don’t know our Irish from our proverbials, the company kindly provides a free live English translation service for every show via a comfy pair of headphones – which means, while you’re watching the performance, there’s someone backstage translating simultaneously so you don’t miss a word.