Part one of a four-part series. Meitheal na mBan is an inspirational and empowering series of online concerts led by Ireland’s top female musicians and artists as they perform directly from their own homes, in a much-needed fundraiser to support the victims of domestic abuse.
Some of the musicians performing on the series include Mary Black, Sharon Shannon, Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Julie Fowlis, Nell Ní Chróinín, Lisa O’Neill, Róisín O, Bronagh Gallagher, Wyvern Lingo, Cliona Hagan and Cathy Jordan. The series will be presented by Ciara Ní É.
Our first thought, when we realised that all [ THE UNTHANKS] shows would need to be postponed, was to support venues. So we asked venues to keep any money they could hold on to, through the generosity of ticket buyers willing to wave their refunds to support the arts. We waved any cut of that, because we believe it’s vital that venues have cash now, to stay alive, so there will still be places to play when this is all over! We’ve also committed to rescheduling shows when its safe to do so, and have promised anyone who donated their ticket cost to the venue, that they can have a free album from our merch stall at the rescheduled show. This isn’t virtue signalling. It’s just another way to motivate people to donate to venues now, by offering to reward them later.
Part of that plan to prioritise the plight of venues, was to look after ourselves by raiding our archives and setting up this sale of rarities! We hope this sale offers you the chance to help us in return for something special.
With every purchase, we’ll also send you a signed photo and two Magpie “One’s For Sorrow / Two’s For Joy postcards.
If you can afford a little extra to donate, as well as buy something, we will send 30% of your donation to the domestic abuse charity, Refuge. Please only do so if you can afford to.
As well as needing to feed and cloth the seven children we have between five band members (plus we are planning to support our sound engineer who lost work with us through cancellations), we have another financial predicament. We are looking forward to spending this period of cancellations and isolation, making the follow up to Mount The Air – a BBC Folk Album of the Year. If all our funds are wiped out by basic survival over the next 6 months however, we will not have the money to finance, manufacture and market our next record, all of which, for an independent artist, must be paid for upfront. Plus, until we can afford to do that, there will no new album to tour, so our live earnings will be compromised too, until there is a new album to tour!
Domestic abuse is not a comfortable subject for a dance piece, but choreographer Rhiannon Faith likes to take her work into such hard-to-navigate realms. Scary Shit (2016), her best-known piece, directed an unblinking gaze at two women’s phobias, sexual insecurities and loneliness, while Smack That (a conversation) introduces us to six real-life survivors of sustained psychological and physical violence. The work is presented in the round. We are at a party of sorts. There are balloons and presents. There’s dancing and pass the parcel. But every tableau, once unwrapped, leads us back to the same dark place, to the lethally aimed fist and the calculated shattering of personality.
The six performers are all called Bev, in wry homage to the Mike Leigh play Abigail’s Party. They all wear platinum wigs and sparkly mid-thigh dresses. They verbalise their brutalisation at the hands of their male partners (“You’re a piece of crushed scum… dead waste”) and they embody it. To a melancholy score directed by Molly O’Brien, we see the six Bevs propelled across the floor in flailing leaps, doubling up from blows to the face and belly (women are most likely to be the victims of domestic abuse when pregnant), hyperventilating, shuddering and collapsing. They run around wild-eyed, clutching their crotches. “Smack that bitch up,” one screams, perhaps referring to the similarly titled 1997 dance track by the Prodigy [ . . . ]