Paul Connolly and Grace Gillick promise a smoking good show!

Verse for troubled times

Hacklers to perform poetry of Greg Delanty

Remarkably the mannerly pupils of St Felim’s who entered the old Abbey last Wednesday didn’t say a word, yet even their teachers couldn’t resist a side-ways glance at the curious characters perched on one of the park benches. Paul Connolly is dressed in a beekeeper’s suit and brandishing a smoker, while Grace Gillick sports an out-sized papier maché flower head.

It’s the kind of spectacle that’s the hallmark of The Hacklers’ productions with director Damien O’Brien at the helm. In recent years they have staged exquisite productions of work by Samuel Beckett and their founding director, the late Dermot Healy.

In the coming weeks they present a dramatisation of the work of Greg Delanty, a poet from Cork who lives in Vermont. Poetry may be a departure of sorts but they remain true to their principles of eye-catching visuals, wonderful storytelling, and accentuating the fun. Hacklers’ audiences leave both entertained and sated by quality productions.

While not involved in recent productions, Paul Connolly’s Hacklers connection extends back to its founding roots, and he’s enjoying the group’s collaborative approach to interpreting Delanty’s acclaimed work, ‘So Little Time: Words and Images for a World in climate Crisis’.

“He [Delanty] happens to be in Ireland at the moment for a book launch,” reports Paul, “and he’s going to come up for one of the rehearsals. It will be quite nerve tingling for us to have the poet there, but he’s delighted we’re doing the pieces.”

Delanty’s been published in almost every prestigious journal worth mentioning and has more awards than you can shake a bee smoker at.

“They have very strong images,” Paul says of the poems, “and they are very emotive in a sense - some of the stuff is humorous, some have his underlying sense of anger - some of the species he has written about have disappeared in just the last 20 years.

“They are a lovely tribute to nature and a call to mankind to wake up about biodiversity loss, climate change, invasive species,” says Butlersbridge man Paul. “It will be an interesting evening.”

The Hacklers have incorporated masks, costumes, narratives, sound, video, music, and paintings - to produce as Paul says “a dramatic presentation of the poems rather than a just a reading of the poems”.

Grace Gillick smilingly endures the enormous floral adornment on one of the hottest days of the year.

“I’ve done plays before where you are learning dialogue from scripts, or musicals where you are learning dance numbers but poetry was very new to a lot of us, but we’ve definitely been won over with his work.

“Each of us could be taking on the role of a bird, of an insect of an animal - it could be taken from the politician’s point of view - I don’t want to give too much away...”

Asked for her favourite, Grace opts for ‘Rafflesia Arnoldii’.

“It would be more commonly known as the Corpse Flower - it is the biggest and smelliest flower in the world. It’s home would be the forests of Borneo and Sumatra. It has a smell of rotting flesh, hence the Corpse flower. I love that poem because of the visuals, and I loved bringing this flower to life.”

Grace gives an impromptu rendition in the park that’s both a credit to Delanty’s rich, darkly comic verse and Gillick’s ability as a truly electric performer.

Paul assures it will be entertaining while, “It highlights all the animals and plants that we could look after better and create a better future for this generation here,” he says as the St Felim’s kids begin to file out through the gate.

‘No More Time’ is at Gonzo Youth Hub Dublin Rd (H12 Y8P5) on Culture Night (Friday, September 22), 8-8.30pm. Full performances on September 29 & 30 at 8pm in the same venue. Tickets in Multisound 049 43 61312 and at the door, Adm €18 Con: €15.