BY DAVID BOLGER

World Premiere | October 2021
Commissioned by Irish Arts Center, Pavilion Theatre, & Project Arts Centre

 

Critically acclaimed CoisCéim Dance Theatre, creators of the unforgettable, award-winning SWIMMING WITH MY MOTHER return live to the stage with the premiere of companion work UNCLE RAY, the dance highlight of Dublin Theatre Festival & Belfast International Arts Festival this year. 

Performed by David Bolger and his mother Madge, SWIMMING WITH MY MOTHER was a “joyful, intergenerational gem” (The Shimmy Skinny) that delighted audiences at the Pavilion Theatre in 2011 and subsequently toured throughout the US and UK. Following this homage to his mother, CoisCéim’s Artistic Director now turns his focus to fathers and uncles, teaming up on stage with street dancer, Donking Rongavilla, in a new work of irresistible charm.  This is a poignant story about the elasticity of truths and how family lore shapes us.

UNCLE RAY takes audiences back to 1970s Dublin where as a young boy, David grew up with stories about his magnificent Uncle Ray – whose career took him from vaudeville, to Broadway and then the glitz of Hollywood, eventually playing one of the most famous characters of all time: the Scarecrow.

Who is Uncle Ray?

 “Memories, like old photographs, come flooding back in black and white… So, when Uncle Ray came to visit once a year, I had no idea he had turned into glorious Technicolor. Standing at the edge of the yellow brick road. Crows would come from miles around just to eat from his field. Maybe not the best scarecrow.  But an incredible dancer and my uncle – Uncle Ray Bolger.” 

Known for his iconic dance style and huge range inflected with tap, ballet, Irish and African-American dance traditions, Ray Bolger was dazzling – variously dubbed “the jazz Nijinsky” and a“rubber-legged acrobat”.  In UNCLE RAY, Donking Rongavilla slips into his shoes, with a mix of contemporary, street and breakdancing. Originally from the Philippines, Donking also grew up with family ties to the movie business, his father Rommel Valdez was a prolific actor in Filipino films

UPCOMING LIVE PERFORMANCES | BOOK NOW

WORLD PREMIERE | DUBLIN THEATRE FESTIVAL

PAVILION THEATRE | Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire, County DUBLIN
7 October | 8.00pm 
8 October | 8.00pm
9 October | 8.00pm
Tickets €25
Part of DUBLIN THEATRE FESTIVAL | check out the full programme here. #DTF21
 

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL

THE MAC | 10 Exchange St West, BELFAST
13 October | 7.45pm followed by a post-show talk
14 October | 7.45pm

Tickets £16/£14 concession
BOOK NOW | belfastinternationalartsfestival.com 
https://belfastinternationalartsfestival.com/event/uncle-ray/
Check out the full festival programme here. #BIAF21

 

PARALLEL PROGRAMME

A parallel programme on 10 & 11 October curated by the esteemed Laurie Uprichard includes the podcast of a panel discussion featuring leading industry voices from North America including Alicia Adams, Vice President, Dance and International Programming, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and board member of APAP; Aidan Connolly, Executive Director of Irish Arts Center (co-commissioner of UNCLE RAY); Jacqueline Davis, former Director of the Lied Center in Kansas and former Executive Director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center and Olga Garay-English, former Executive Director of City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. For more details please contact sarah@coisceim.com

 

TRAILER

 

CREDITS

Performed by DAVID BOLGER and DONKING RONGAVILLA
Special guest appearances by MADGE BOLGER, DERMOT MAGENNIS, RACHEL O’BYRNE 

Conceived, Directed and Choreographed by DAVID BOLGER
Music Composition and Sound Design | DENIS CLOHESSY
Set and Costume Design | MAREE KEARNS
Lighting Design | EAMON FOX
Projection Design | MAGS MULVEY and NEIL O’DRISCOLL
Hair/Makeup Design | VAL SHERLOCK

Rehearsal Director | MUIRNE BLOOMER
Parallel Programme Curator | LAURIE UPRICHARD
 
Production Manager | MICHAEL STAPLETON
Stage Manager | DONNA LEONARD
Assistant Stage Manager | AUDREY ROONEY
 
Chief LX | EVAN KEOGH
Chief Technician | LAURA RAINSFORD
Sound Engineer | JAMES BLAKE
Broadcast Director | JOHN COMISKEY
Director of Photography | GARY FINNEGAN
First AD | TOM O’REILLY
Vision Mixer | DEIRDRE RYAN
Sound Mixer | JAMES BLAKE
Camera |  PAUL HOPE & DAVID TOOLAN
 
Set Construction | THEATRE PRODUCTION SERVICES (TPS)
Scenic Artist | SANDRA BUTLER
Additional Hair & Makeup | CAROLINE MCCURDY
Vocal Coach | CATHAL QUINN
Special Props | ADAM O’CONNELL, DYLAN FARRELL
Photographer | ROS KAVANAGH
Graphic Design |  ALPHABET SOUP
 
Medical Adviser | EVENT MEDICAL SERVICES
Marketing / Production Assistant CLARA BULMAN
Parallel Programme Facilitator CAOIMHE COBURN GRAY
 
Producers SARAH LATTY, BRIDGET WEBSTER
 

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

 

DAVID BOLGER | DIRECTOR, CHOREOGRAPHER, PERFORMER

David is the Artistic Director and co-founder of CoisCéim Dance Theatre. His work has been seen by millions of people worldwide and has received prestigious awards for its innovation, performance and choreography. David has directed and choreographed over 20 original productions for CoisCéim, including the highly lauded FRANCIS FOOTWORK, THE WOLF AND PETER, BODY LANGUAGE, and the major international co-production THESE ROOMS (Irish Times Theatre Award, London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), (TATE Liverpool). His work for the company has been presented at Jacobʼs Pillow Dance Festival and Peak Performances in the USA, China, Spring Loaded (The Place), The Brighton Festival, and both the International Festival Edinburgh and Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the UK, Ten Days on the Island (Tasmania), Arts Centre Melbourne and Sydney Opera House (Australia). David has received numerous choreographic commissions for theatre and opera including Druid (Ireland), Spoleto Festival (USA), Guthrie Theatre (USA), RTÉ (Ireland), National Theatre, Royal Opera House and English National Opera (UK), Abbey Theatre (Ireland) and Opera Ireland. Film works include DANCING AT LUGHNASA, DEEP END DANCE (Writer/Choreographer) and the award winning short film HOW TO SINK A PAPER BOAT (Writer/Director/Choreographer). David is a member of Aosdána. Find out more here.

Donking is a Street Dancer from the Philippines, and has been based in Ireland since 2002. He started his professional dance career at 16, and later he went on to become a Choreographer, Break dancer, Acrobatic Teacher, actor and music video dance Director.

Acting credits include LOVE ROSIE with Lily Collins, HERSELF produced by Sharon Horgan, Television credits include THE VIKINGS, LOVE HATE, RAW, ASHLING’S DIARY and GRAND OPENING and the Orchard Thieves and Eir Sport ads. He featured in BALLET CHANCERS with Monica Loughman Ballet in 2008.

DonKing made his CoisCéim debut in AGNES and worked with David Bolger on RTÉ’S CENTENARY 2016. He recently performed a dramatised reading of the book called EARTH WE’RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS for the Dublin Literary Award 2021.

He represented Ireland in the world Hiphop championship in the USA 2006, 2007 and 2012 and was awarded Ireland’s Dance Masters Choreographer of the Year(2011). He has worked with big names in the music industry, the likes of Hosier, Jedward, The Coronas.

Choreography credits include the award winning Bollywood short film MOORE STREET MASALA, RTÉ’s TINA TIMES TWO (Dyehouse Films).

He has been the assistant Choreographer for the Gaiety Panto every year since 2016.

Donking is the spokesperson for Breaking Ireland, a national member body of Olympic Federation of Ireland in preparation for Paris Olympics 2024.

Denis has worked with numerous dance and theatre companies. He won the Irish Times theatre award for Best Design Sound in 2019 and 2010 and was a nominee in 2015. Work with CoisCéim includes FRANCIS FOOTWORK. Denis was an associate artist with the Abbey in 2008 and was a participant on Rough Magic’s ADVANCE programme in 2012. In 2016 Pat Kinevane’s play SILENT (Fishamble) won an Olivier award for which Denis composed the music. His work in film includes music for the feature films UNDER THE CLOK and OLDER THAN IRELAND (Snack box Films), THE IRISH PUB (Atom Films) and HIS AND HERS (Venom Film).

Maree is an award-winning set and costume designer based in Ireland. She has collaborated with David Bolger and CoisCéim Dance Theatre many times in the past on productions which include the critically acclaimed AGNES and INVITATION TO A JOURNEY. Maree has designed sets and costumes for most of Ireland’s leading companies, in theatre, dance, musicals and opera. She is also the course director for the MFA in Stage Design at the Lir Academy, Trinity College, Dublin.

MINIM is the brainchild of Mags Mulvey and Neil O’Driscoll. Together they specialise in projection design, illustration and scenic requirements for live performance. In addition, they offer videography for promotional films, documentaries and visual arts projects.

With an extensive career in the arts for over 20 years, Mags has worked in stage management, scenography and video design and production. Neil is a multidisciplinary artist with qualifications in art, crafts and film-making and currently enjoys working in the field of projection design for theatre.

The moment their paths crossed it was clear they were destined to work together and MINIM was born.

Previously…

DAVID BOLGER’S UNCLE RAY: AN INTRODUCTION
part of FIRST LOOKS at Dublin Dance Festival 2019
11 + 18 May 2019 | 12:00pm + 2:00pm 
www.dublindancefestival.ie
Project Arts Centre, Space Upstairs, Essex Street, Dublin 2
Performed by David Bolger and Matthew Williamson. In an introduction to his new work, David Bolger examines the elasticity of truths lovingly passed down from generation to generation. 

 

GALLERY | IN REHEARSAL

Photos by Ros Kavanagh

 

PAVILION THEATRE PATRON’S AWARD

Pavilion Theatre has been a key partner for fifteen years – from NUTCRACKER to FRANCIS FOOTWORK, CoisCéim has staged eleven productions at the venue since 2005. The symbiotic relationship between David Bolger and the people of the area, together with our complementary approaches to meaningfully building audiences for accessible, cutting edge, relevant physical theatre and dance, underpins our special bond with the theatre.

We were honoured and delighted to be able to celebrate our relationship through the Patron’s award, as Pavilion Theatre came onboard as a co-commissioner of UNCLE RAY and support for the final stage of development enable us to “allow logical time to fully harness creative flow”.