One of Ireland's most celebrated actors, the mighty Olwen Fouéré performs in the world premiere of Pan Pan's Mespil In The Dark as part of the Brightening Air festival; four x fifteen-minute episodes streaming online from 16th - 19th June, with a 360 version of episode one on the 20th - find out more here.

We asked Olwen for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

I am looking forward to being in a cinema again but it is heartening how a good film can survive being watched anywhere on any device. My standout films of the last two years were The Lighthouse by Robert Eggers and Uncut Gems by the Safdie brothers. I can't wait to see Nomadland by Chloé Zhao. Favourite recent documentaries include The Mayor (about the mayor of Ramallah), Rutturno (filmed on the borders between Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, and Lebanonon), Space Dogs (about the Moscow street dogs who were the first ever space travellers) which also brings me to my favourite space documentary ever, The Farthest by Emer Reynolds, about the two Voyager spacecraft which were launched in 1977 and are still making their way through interstellar space, carrying messages to the solar system in the form of The Golden Record.

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I love classic borderland westerns, too many to mention here, and I’ve missed seeing so many new Irish films but I’d recommend any film by Pat Collins and anything involving the actor/writer Mark O’Halloran whose Adam And Paul directed by Lenny Abrahamson is, to my mind, the great breakthrough classic of Irish film. And I’m always on the look out for upcoming films by some of the brilliant Irish writers and directors I’ve been fortunate enough to work with including Nessa Hardiman, Stephen Fingleton, Rebecca Daly, Claire Dix, Ailbhe Keoghan, Antonia Campbell Hughes, and Oonagh Kearney amongst others.

MUSIC

I generally become obsessed with particular songs or pieces of music, playing them over and over. One of these is the Georgian tablesong Chakrulo which is on the above mentioned Golden Record. Another is cellist Matthew Barley’s recording of The Song of Separation and Waiting by Pandit Sultan Khan which is on his recent album of Taverner’s The Protecting Veil. I love and follow many Irish musicians and singers and am currently obssessed with anything by Lankum. I’ve worked with the composer Roger Doyle for years whose output would overflow a virtual ocean. Listeners of RTE Lyric FM Opera Night will have heard the world premiere of his 'studio only' electronic opera from a libretto by Marina Carr called iGIRL. The libretto is incredibly powerful and the opera made for haunting listening, performed by various contributing singers like Michelle O’Rourke, Camilla Grieshel and Morgan Cooke (listen below).

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BOOK

I'm a slow reader, always contemplating a pile of unread books that could pave a road. Last years lockdown gave me some opportunity to catch up. First, I read Actress by Anne Enright. Anne is a really formidable writer, she was also the first Laureate of Irish Fiction and I highly recommend her No Authority: Writings From The Laureateship. I’ve just finsihed Sinéad O’Connor’s Rememberings which I read in one sitting as I could not put it down. I especially love short stories and have read as many of them by Kevin Barry as I can get hold of including his most recent wonderful collection That Old Country Music.

PLAY

The last year been a difficult but interesting time for plays as we know them. I had been looking forward to The Boy by Marina Carr - which was to be the Abbey Theatre’s hugely ambitious production for Dublin Theatre Festival 2020. Word is that it might be programmed for the same time in 2022 but who knows. There have been valiant attempts to create theatre through other media - with wildly varying degrees of success - but a hybrid form has been evolving that may prove significant for the future. I’m currently shooting Marina’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse directed by Annabelle Comyn. It’s being filmed by José Miguel Jimenez in The Everyman Theatre, Cork, and the process is fascinating.

TV

I have no TV and watch everything on my laptop or phone. I have to confess to having an apocalypse fetish so I have been fascinated by the evolution of the pandemic and its impact. I subscribe to Netflix and Mubi as I have no idea how to download from the proliferation of free sites. Breaking Bad was the first ever TV series that I got hooked on and watched all the way through. Followed by Homeland and Ozark. I also watched all of Schitt’s Creek when I was in mandatory hotel quarantine in Sudney last December. It was a ife saver and kept me in a state of deep love and laughter for hours.

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GIG

I’ve been to no gigs this year, obviously. I think the most memorable gig I’ve ever been to was David Byrne’ s American Utopia. I saw it twice and even met him afterwards. It was unforgettable, a live experience of total theatre, brilliantly staged and choreographed by Annie B Parson. I’d also say that any live gig by The Gloaming is not to be missed. You can feel it when it happens, the alchemy, and it happens every time they play live.

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ART

Some really great artists have been commissioned by Rua Red to work on a project around Mary Magdalene including Alice Maher, Jesse Presley Jones, Amanda Coogan and dancer/ choreographer Oona Doherty. I believe the works will be shown in the Gallery in 2021. Not to be missed, I’d say.

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RADIO/PODCAST

I subscribe to loads of podcasts but rarely seem to get a chance to listen. Radio is a fantastic medium which I love listen to, often just at random. I have a beautiful Internet radio set which can pick up radio from all sorts of weird and wonderful places around the world.

TECH

Essential use of a smart phone and computer is as far as it goes. I would love to be tech savvy enough to shoot and make a film, with minimal equipment. I know this is more than possible for most people to do. I’ll get around to it one day.

THE NEXT BIG THING...

The internet crashes globally with the mother of all viruses.

Pan Pan's Mespil In The Dark is streaming online from 16th - 19th June - find out more here.