Caca Dana Review: “All the World’s A Cage” – By Niamh Ryan

Caca Dana Review: “All the World’s A Cage” – By Niamh Ryan

By Cathy Lee

The brilliant “All The World’s A Cage” engages and grips an audience from the beginning. On entering the small secluded dimly lit made-to-do theatre at “The Teachers Club” Dublin 1, the actors we had not yet been introduced to were already present on the background of the stage. This set a relaxed sort of mood into the air as the stage was at ground level, we relaxed into the comfortable couch-like audience seats and all I could experience was the feeling of curiosity the entertainment to come, and I wasn’t to be disappointed by this expectation! I would wholeheartedly describe this play as another success for the fantastic playwright and star Niamh Ryan, who plays “Jill”.

The very limited stage space was essential and fitting for the story. This one room setting exposed the character of the lives that the three young women held together, tightly bound in a not exactly cluttered scenario but one of great importance we are to learn to each of them, particularly “Tina” – played by Marie Hegarty. We discover each of these young women, graduated from college in Galway in their early 20s, as we watch the hilarious lack of interaction unfold between the ladies and the driven TV License inspector. We later discover that maybe indeed that this authoritarian figure isn’t the only one of his kind in their lives. Be it boyfriends, co-workers or closed-minded directors – these young women are really up against it.

The placement of individual striking lines in the play were exceptional for me as they were very captivating and allowed me to further my belief in the talents of Niamh Ryan as a script writer. Most of the comedy was physical at the beginning of the play, from yoga fitness moves of “Jill” to exaggerated facial expressions of “Amy” and the improper placement of some lemons and limes. But as the themes of feminism and power in the play further, lines from Tina and of course Jill, played by Niamh Ryan were hard hitting and to the point.

I found the characters to be strong with each possessing a distinct individuality and their own world view, strongly expressed at differing points in the play. Niamh Ryan as “Jill” and Katie Reid as “Amy” were headstrong and often outrageous bringing in heavily the humour and dominance into the scenes but I feel too that “Tina” played a distinct role in balancing out the possibly deeper strength of characters in the acting of Niamh Ryan and Katie Reid.

The play addressed a form of modern day millennial message or struggle and a strong feminine message which broke down barriers of fear in that of being a woman, the restrictions and draw backs found that we see existing here as the story unfolds. Through strong will and true togetherness in friendship, the girls overcome their challenges and the energy within the play can be felt, through the honesty of humour and the true sense of belief in one another as women and as good friends.

Although the play only held one setting due to the limited stage space available, the actors made this work through their use of physical space to depict time passing and also the excellent use of selective lighting present was visually important. Props were used to a good affect, from the weapons to the couch – which both united and separated the girls at different stages. I think this also added some colour to the play in a different way than the strong comedy did, as sometimes the atmosphere was dreary as the sense of hopelessness became present for the characters at their current and somewhat fixed reality.

Niamh Ryan is clearly a multi-talented young woman, with excellent script writing skills and is a capable actress herself included. Having seen another Caca Dana production “Eternal Youth” before,” All The World’s A Cage” showed me a new side to the writing of Niamh Ryan and I think her talents are very diverse with the potential for a vast future to explore, which audiences of all kinds should enjoy.

I wish the team at Caca Dana Theatre company all the best for their ventures stateside and I look forward to their future productions, wherever they may be. You can check out their website here for further information: https://www.cdtheatreco.com/

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21 blog posts series ease eighteen

21 blog posts series ease eighteen

Eighteen: “Knowing and trusting the power of your own voice”

I’ve come to learn that having your own individuality, being proud of it and embracing it for what it is, is something of great importance. This comes in to your likes and dislikes as far as your political views and lifestyle choices. I think if we can master how to delve in and out of trends new or old that suit us, that keeps your own individual originality intact. Maybe and hopefully by doing this we can be truly happy and comfortable in our own skin.

What can stand in the way of this is simply: fear. Fear of not fitting in or even fear of those around you disagreeing or putting you down. But I will say that overcoming this fear is something so totally freeing and worthwhile that it’s worth the (possible) hassle you might face. It takes time for people to be comfortable with change but that’s helped by a little reasoning and sometimes even persuasion. If you’ve a view or opinion that can be well backed up in the form of fact and true belief from your own perspective, I think that you can fight it on any battle field.

There’s nothing worse than knowing you’re right on something or having a good idea but not having that belief there from the people around you. The convincing part of this can be a challenge but honestly, it just takes a bit of bravery and commitment in not giving up on yourself and really testing your belief in order to get it off the ground. I agree with the idea that there’s no one size fits all idea in terms of how our world should be, how politics should work, economics and even how religion fits in. But certain things that make sense for the progress of the world all the way from the richest to poorest, should be sought out. This being done by the power of the voice of individuals.

The ideas I have in mind are that of equality and feminism. Call me biased, but I don’t understand why in a democratic society we wouldn’t want to aim towards this goal? How somebody could vote in favour of the “yes equality” campaign and not support feminism, boggles me. Feminism is about equality between genders, aiming for a fairer society in which we all live. Although in its roots, the main writers on feminism were women – I believe currently that feminism has undergone and is being embraced by both men and women. (Maybe it could do with a name change to prevent confusion, but that’s another debate altogether).

What I’ve always believed when it comes to views is that you shouldn’t push them on people in terms of forcing a view onto someone. Make an argument, state your case but at the end be willing to accept that others may not agree but they should respect your idea and give you that chance to voice it. What I particularly dislike are those who take the form of a so called “keyboard warrior” who are all for one view and simply block out opposing views. These people are shutting their eyes to the world as much as those who they claim to against, making them in some of way of it: no better.

So what I would say and encourage everyone to do to counteract that fear of being opposed to is to express yourself. Whether it be through writing, getting involved in political campaigns, taking photographs or even just following things on social media – don’t be afraid to admit that you’re part of something because trust me you are not alone. Communities based on politics or political views are growing and we shouldn’t live in fear of saying who we are affiliated with, because if we truly believe in our views and opinions – they shouldn’t be something hidden.

Satirical Piece (2014) – Video for ‘Anaconda’ by Nicki Minaj.

Looking for four minutes and 50 seconds of discomfort? Look no further, I’ve found it.

It comes from the ever-engrossing and controversial musical talents of Nicki Minaj (or not-so-much talents, whichever you make of it all). This time around she has come up with her own re-mastered version of the 1992 song ‘Baby Got Back’ named simply, ‘Anaconda’. You thought the 1992 version was controversial and successful in objectifying women? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Don’t be fooled by the calm selection of introductory images and sounds of a beautiful rainforest setting, this is soon tainted by the ‘booty-shaking’ and sexualisation of the female body which is commonplace in the modern day popular music scene. Lately, we have become used to, but not indifferent to, the attempts of artists to make a controversial music video to attract attention and publicity. An easy example of this is the Miley Cyrus video for ‘Wrecking Ball’ or the Rihanna video for the song ‘S&M’ (banned in some countries).

I think Minaj earns her place on the list of controversial music video artists for this production as she displays in the highest of definition (obviously) how she can in fact shake, slap, move and clap her giant surgically enhanced behind. Is that something to count as an achievement?

What I find interesting is how all these over-sexualised music videos come from female artists. It seems strange to me that we hear of feminism being on the increase and yet we still have these attempts in the music industry to sell sex and body image to young girls and women worldwide. The issue being more solidified and real as we see the increase of younger children being treated in hospitals for illnesses such as anorexia and those paying for plastic surgery to have jobs done on the black market, including the Nicki Minaj inspired ‘big butt’ as fans do not realise the dangers involved.

See Nicki Minaj (Onika Tanya Maraj), born 1982, was just ten years of age when Sir Mix-a-lot brought us ‘Baby Got Back’ telling the world how he preferred women with bigger behinds. Did this message of a certain body image have such an effect on the young girl that just over 20 years later, we see a woman with breast and ass implants shake and show what she has had done to create herself and this image?

Having endured the video myself, I found it difficult to comprehend what this video was trying to achieve. At some points it felt like the video was almost a parody as the shock value of the sexual references and imagery became a little too much, even in today’s terms, with scenes of the next clearly sexual act serving no purpose whatsoever to the story the video was attempting to tell (if any).

My question is, haven’t we seen enough? Where do we draw the line for controversial videos because I for one cannot sit through more senseless and idiotic displays of almost-pornography in order to sell some music.

This song and video contains all we expect from a modern pop song; sexual references, foul language, drug references, racism and much more to collect the 209,521,415+ YouTube hits, more hits than the ‘Baby Got Back’ video I might add.

This video certainly had shock value but in terms of what we should really value as a modern society, I would recommend you search somewhere/anywhere else.