Seán Rocks presents Arena, RTÉ Radio 1’s flagship arts, popular culture and entertainment programme which is broadcast at 7p.m Mon-Fri. He also recently presented the documentary 'Soul of Ireland' for BBC Radio 4 which won a Silver Medal at the New York Festival of Radio. Prior to broadcasting, Seán worked extensively as an actor both at home and abroad, appearing at the Abbey, Peacock and Gate Theatres and with companies including Rough Magic, Druid and Field Day. For Culture Night, Sean will be hosting a three-hour Arena special, presented live from Dublin Castle.

Film

A Date for Mad Mary. A great new Irish film from director Darren Thornton, co-written with his brother Colin and based on Jasmine Akram's play. It's a very touching story of how even the best of friends can grow apart and there's a dose of bridezilla thrown in for good measure. There's not a false note from any of the cast, led by Seana Kerslake as the Mary of the title.

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Music

Two great albums in recent weeks: Skeleton Tree from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Difficult not to link it in with the death of Cave's teenage son which happened during the recording of the album. Seemingly many of the songs were written before the tragedy, but, whatever the inspiration the album is a deeply moving listen. I also really enjoyed My Woman from Angel Olsen. Born in  Missouri and now living in North Carolina Olsen has a great voice and the songs on the album allow her to show off her range. I've also just started listening to Kate Tempest's Let Them Eat Chaos, a spoken word album with vibrant musical underlay: really thought provoking. 

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Book

Take a look at Jay McInerney's Bright,Precious Days - his third novel dealing with fictional editor Russell Calloway and his wife Corrine. Even if you haven't read the previous two books or the short story where they started their fictional life, you'll be interested in this Manhattan couple as they face the challenges of midlife. Closer to home, Eimear Mc Bride's The Lesser Bohemians is her follow up to her hugely successful debut A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. The new book is the story of a young Irish woman who goes to acting school in London and her subsequent all-consuming sexual relationship with an older actor. There's a lot of sex but it's deftly handled. The style is similar to the disjointed style of her debut but as this book progresses it changes to a more traditional prose style.

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Theatre

So much happening with the Tiger Dublin Fringe in full swing and the Dublin Theatre Festival on the way. Druid's production of Maedhbh Mc Hugh's Helen and I directed by Anabelle Comyn and with a cast that includes Cathy Belton looks promising. It opened in Galway this week and travels to the Civic Theatre in Tallaght for the DTF. Also looking forward to The Father by Florian Zeller which opens this week at the Gate and I'm intrigued by what's in store in Donegal, a musical play by Frank Mc Guinness which is at the Abbey from early October.

Television

Really happy that Red Rock is back on TV3. It'll be interesting to see if the programme can maintain the quality of writing, acting and production in the new hour-long format and later time slot. It has a lot to live up to. The first episode of the new season was promising but I'm devastated that the mouth organ doesn't feature in the new version of the theme tune!

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Gig

This is How We Fly: Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh with his hardanger d'amore and a few other fiddles, Seán Mc Erlane with his clarinet and some electronics, Swedish percussionist Peter Berndalen and Appalachian hard shoe dancer Nic Gareis. Four seemingly very different styles coming together in what I expect will be a very entertaining way. Sunday September 18 at 18:00 in the Spigeltent @ Merrion Square as part of Fringe Fest. What's not to like?

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Art: 

Artist and shepherd Orla Barry brings those two strands of her life together in Breaking Rainbows  a video installation and performance piece which features wool, poetry, Greek myth and a dash of humour for good measure. It's at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios in September, touring subsequently to the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork and to the Wexford Arts Centre.

Radio

Well of course the radio programme I'm most excited about this weekend is the Arena 3-hour live broadcast from Dublin Castle on Culture Night 7pm-10pm. The RTE Concert Orchestra will be with me throughout with other guests including Anne Enright, Little Green Cars, Blind Boy Boat Club of the Rubberbandits, Loah, Donal Ryan, Lisa O'Neill and many more.

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Tech

Check out Not the RTE Guide on twitter - a healthy swipe at all media outlets. On Tuesday they tweeted:

They also recently held one of the most important polls ever held in the Irish media as they asked people to choose between Zig and Zag.

The Next Big Thing

Seána Kerslake, the star of A Date for Mad Mary is also about to appear in the new RTE Drama series Can't Cope Won't Cope. She's definitely on the rise as is Cavan singer Áine Cahill. who recently wowed everyone in Glastonbury. And who knows whether Channel 4's attempts at Bake Off will rise or not........

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