NOW into its 30th year, the Galway Arts Festival has kicked off it’s first week with acts to surpass its already sterling reputation. Over 400 writers, artists, performers and musicians will descend on Galway over the next fortnight from as far as Australia, Cuba, Ukraine and Japan, but with the festival never forgetting the best of what Ireland has to offer.

Favourites in previous years, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company return after nearly a decade’s worth of crowd-pleasing at the festival, and seem to have brought half of America’s performance elite with them.

The cream of New York’s crop will be showcasing their wares, as theatre company The Team will be treading the boards with their now staple brand of exuberant theatricality, while fellow New York dance troop, acclaimed Stephen Petronio Dance Company will combine visual art, fashion and music, in which two pieces were created in collaboration with Rufus Wainwright. Austin company the Rude Mechanicals will be presenting comedy Get Your War On.

From the other side of the world, physical theatre meets circus in Australian company Circa’s show The Space Between, a re-examining of the body’s limits, set against a score by Jacques Brel.

Not forgetting the Irish additions to the line-up, renowned playwright Pat McCabe will be premiering his new play The Revenant – directed by Joe O’Byrne with music by Gavin Friday

Shows from Galway including Love and Other Disguises, a marital collaboration between Catastrophe and Chrysalis Dance; contemporary dance and film art in The Projector of Dreams from Pillow Fight Productions; and a drag queen celebration in An Audience with the Divine Peaches, from the Flying Pigs.

The festival’s music line up is as diverse as ever, featuring rock, folk, blues, jazz and classical, not forgetting traditional and contemporary Irish music from the likes of Donal Lunny & Moving Hearts and The Divine Comedy.

There’s world music from Cesaria Evora, with sensual vocals from Cape Verde making her Irish debut with her ten-piece band, and the wild Balkan gypsy music of Romania’s Taraf de Haidouks.

World-renowned cellist Steven Isserlis and The Brodksy Quartet head up an interesting classical programme. New York composer Mikel Rouse bridges the gap between high art and popular culture in Music for Minorities; and you can also catch Laura Veirs, Alabama 3 and Tom Baxter among many others.

Visual arts includes a major exhibition of new work from Irish artist Sean Lynch; Women War Photographers, featuring the work of five leading international photographers; Single Shot, a showing of specially commissioned film and video pieces from a number of UK-based international artists.
The Galway Arts Festival has been running from this Monday 16, and will continue through Thursday 29th July.

By Ryan Kennedy