06 April 2004
The Film: Capturing the Friedmans
Arnold and Elaine Friedman and their three sons were a well-off family living in a suburb of Long Island in the 1980s. Then Arnold was charged with possessing child pornography and soon afterwards, he and his 18-year-old son Jesse were arrested in a glare of publicity and charged with hundreds of counts of child abuse. Amazingly enough, a large amount of their story, both before and after the arrests, was captured on film. The film offers an unprecedented look at a family undergoing a trauma too terrible for most of us to contemplate. At the centre of the story is Arnold Friedman, a highly-respected schoolteacher who admitted possessing child pornography but denied the allegations of child abuse. The boys he and his son were accused of abusing had attended computer classes in the basement of the Friedman's home. Though there were several damning testimonies, no material evidence of the crimes was ever produced. Things get stranger, however, because Arnold's wife Elaine didn't believe him and soon the boys were pitched against their mother. Incredible as it may seem, there is real home movie footage of all this - going back to the time the boys were born - and it's all in the documentary.

Karen Fricker, Charlie McCarthy and Belinda McKeon discuss 'Capturing the Friedmans'

The Play: The Burial at Thebes
As part of its continuing season, 'The Abbey and Europe', and to mark the Irish Presidency of the European Union, The Abbey Theatre last night presented the world premiere of Seamus Heaney's 'The Burial at Thebes'. It's a version of Sophocles' 'Antigone', generally considered one of the greatest dramas ever written. It tells of the tragic consequences which ensue when Antigone defies her uncle, King Creon of Thebes, who has forbidden anyone from honouring her dead brother, Polynices, on pain of death. The cast includes Ruth Negga as Antigone, Kelly Campbell as Ismene and Lorcan Cranitch as Creon. It's the second adaptation of a Sophocles play by Heaney, the first being his version of 'Philoctetes', 'The Cure at Troy'. But 'Antigone' is the more famous play. Sophocles' original was written around 441BC, and it continues to inspire Irish dramatists and poets. In the last 20 years alone, we've seen among others, versions by Tom Paulin, Aidan Mathews, Brendan Kennelly and Conall Morrison.

The Panel discusses Seamus Heaney's 'The Burial at Thebes'

The Exhibition: See It.Read It.
'See It.Read It.' is the title of a new exhibition of art-with-words currently running at Draíocht in Blanchardstown. Curated by Carissa Farrell, the works are all from the British Arts Council Collection at the Hayward Gallery in London. They're by British and international artists, among them Tracey Emin, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Simon Patterson. All of them feature the use of text in visual art, the idea being to use the Irish fascination with the literary form as an avenue into contemporary art.

The Panel discusses 'See It...Read It...' at Draíocht in Blanchardstown

The Book: Where I Was From
The writer Joan Didion was born in Sacramento, California, in 1934. She began her writing career with American 'Vogue' and since then she has published five novels, among them 'Run River' and 'Play It As It Lays', and six works of non-fiction. She's known as a tough critic of American culture and politics, something evident in her essay collections, among them 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem' and 'The White Album'. Her new book, 'Where I Was From', is another book of non-fiction, this time a mix of memoir and a history of her own family, some of them early settlers in California. This time, it's California itself that comes under her microscope and it doesn't come off that well.

The Panel discusses Joan Didion's 'Where I Was From'

The Performance: Iain Archer
The singer-songwriter and guitarist Iain Archer grew up in Bangor, Co Down in the 70s. He recorded two folk-tinged albums in Scotland for the label Sticky,(1995's 'Playing Dead' and 'Crazy Bird' in 1996,) then he moved away from the music business for a while. But he came back to join the Scottish collective The Reindeer Section and he's also played with Snow Patrol, and now he's back with an album and a short Irish tour. The new album 'Flood the Tanks' was released here last week, and it contains the single 'Boy Boy Boy'.

Watch the performance

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