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Column: Cardinal Rules - On 'pop' culture 2012

The (not) Primate of All Ireland readies himself for a year of cultural gems like Fr Gerry O’Shea’s one-man avant-garde production, ‘I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About, Sure Everything Is Grand’.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

2012 HAS BEGUN with the typically predictable cultural previews. Most have been secular in focus, neglecting the more spiritual side of the arts. Today I want to re-set the cultural scales and give you a taste of what to expect in 2012. I have been holding them over because most of them have been embargoed, or press releases were lost in the post. (I’m looking at you Fr O’Leary.)

Theatre

There has been a glut of simplistic, one-dimensional, anti-Church monologues in our theatres in recent years. Thankfully, this imbalance will be redressed by Fr Gerry O’ Shea’s one-man show, ‘ I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About, Sure Everything Is Grand’. This avant-garde theatrical statement will consist of Fr Gerry sticking his fingers in his ears for 90 uninterrupted minutes, while humming the theme tune to ’70s television class The Six Million Dollar Man. Venue to be announced.

The Silver Platter Players will be performing their production of ‘Run For Your Wife’ in Kildonard town hall in May. I only refer to it here because Fr O’ Leary is the director, and he asked me to mention it. I would say what’s written in the press release, but “laffaminute” (sic) isn’t actually a word, despite what he says, so I won’t.

Books

Those of you old enough to remember, who haven’t suffered memory loss because you’re too old to remember, will remember Fr Benny “Buster” McGinty’s seminal Radio Eireann programme A Few Aul Prayers. He lit up Sunday nights for families across the land with his witty chat and anecdotes, and who can forget his legendary catchphrase “Well blow me down, it’s Rosary time.”

A limited edition book of transcripts of Father Benny’s A few Aul Prayers 1925-1939 will be published this Autumn. The laugh-a-minute episode (that one’s for you, Fr O’ Leary) remembered by many as “that one with the horse in the studio” will be included, along with the poignant final episode in which Fr Benny dies live on air. How anyone can transcribe twenty minutes of gurgling I don’t know, but this September we will find out.

Also, I am delighted to announce the publication of the latest book in Fr Brown’s series, namely the almost mythical Fr Brown’s Rolling Stones shoot. Heralded as a “potent marriage of the psychedelic and the sepia” it will bring Fr Brown’s work to a whole new audience of people who will have to think of something else to say other than “look how poor they were”.

Films

Liam Neeson will star in Sister Act 4 as hard-drinking, whiskey-nosed Irish priest Fr Malachy O’ Malley. He is said to be very excited, and is quoted as saying “I’m very excited about that movie I made that’s coming out. Whichever one it is of the 35 I’ve made in the past year.”

Mel Gibson is set to direct Set My People Free, the epic tale of Moses leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. It will be told with Mr Gibson’s trademark visceral cinematic energy (there will be loads of violence) and verve (I mean loads). Mr Gibson sees this movie as part of his rehabilitation and his “journey towards reconciliation with the Jewish community.” He has even taken to talking to interviewers through a rabbi sock puppet, deflecting awkward questions with “Oy vey” and an air of resigned comic self awareness. Liam Neeson will play Moses.

I am also delighted to announce that Fr Brendan Finnegan’s re-interpretation of Bernard McLaverty’s anti Christian Brother story Lamb will open this year’s Dublin Film Festival. Hugh O’Conor will be reprising his role as the young asthmatic boy, rolling back the years by the simple addition of short pants. Liam Neeson will be doing likewise, mainly because he just likes wearing short pants. Fr Brendan has been particularly delighted to secure the services of Liam Neeson after a scheduling error which saw him with two days off last May.

This year’s Sundance Film Festival will see the world premiere of Michael Moore’s new anti-organised religion documentary Nutz. After accidentally hearing a lecture on documentary film making at UCLA, Moore has promised a new approach to his now familiar style. “These kids don’t used a script like I do (five drafts). They don’t do gimmicky set-ups and rehearsed confrontations. They also try and treat their subject in an objective and non-polemical manner. It just blew my mind.”

Moore has promised an observational documentary in which “the camera and its subjects do all the talking.” That said, he has promised an opening scene in which he visits the grave of Charlton Heston and asks Mr Heston his opinions on “the tyrannical and amoral despotism of organised religion.” Naturally he takes Heston’s silence as a sign of tacit support. “The scene is a searing indictment of those who support organised evil. Or at least it will be when we film it next Tuesday.”

In a surprise twist Liam Neeson won’t be in it.

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(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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