Doubt (Part 2) – Episode 8 – Reading Plays


We conclude our discussion of JP Shanley’s classic play, doubt.

Download: Episode 8 – Doubt (Part 2)

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: ‘The Bald Soprano‘ or La Cantatrice Chauve by Eugène Ionesco.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Doubt (Part 1) – Episode 7 – Reading Plays


In the introduction to his already classic play ‘Doubt: A Parable’, JP Shanley writes ‘we are living in a culture of extreme advocacy, of confrontation, of judgment, and of verdict’. In the decade since the publication of the play, as the culture wars have expanded, his words have seemed ever more prescient. Doubt is a work with uncertainty at its heart. The play deals with a monstrous allegation and it’s consequences, but its theme is really the consequence of ignoring such allegations. Shanley challenges us to acknowledge in doubt, the possibility of growth, to chose a shared illusion a little less distant from reality, to sacrifice the vestments of perceived virtue for robes of uncertain good. Doubt was awarded the Pulizer prize for drama as well as a Tony Award for Best Play, and has been adapted into both an opera and an academy award nominated film.

Download: Reading Plays – Episode 7 – Doubt (Part1)

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: We continue our discussion of Doubt by JP Shanley.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

The Misanthrope – Episode 5 – Reading Plays


The Misanthrope (or the ‘The Cantankerous Lover’) by Moliere, is a comedy first performed at the Theatre du Palais-Royal in 1666. Despite its age the play deals with modern concerns, like the nature of friendship and the choice to embrace cynicism over solipsism. Although absent the careful plotting, dynamic staging or linguistic experimentalism of modern theatre, Moliere’s wit remains alive and entertaining. The influence of his barbed dialogue and high society brinkmanship can be seen in writers from as Oscar Wilde to Whit Stillman.

In life Moliere (born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) was a controversial figure. Arguably one of the first literary celebrities, he was accused of numerous villainies, including having illegitimately fathered his much younger wife.

He once wrote ‘Doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths’, and it is this ambiguity that lies at the heart of The Misanthrope. Moliere writes ‘one cannot look into the heart’. Thus we vacillate between paranoia and pronoia, never certain in this life of the nobility of our actions, or whether moral pragmatism is ultimately more valid than holding a steady course. Is it true, as the cynically flirtatious Celimene says, ‘It is easy… to blame or praise everything and everyone may be right, according to their age and taste’. Or is there a moral centre to life, we may avoid or obey, according to our character.

We read the Henri Van Laun public domain translation of the play from the university of Adelaide.

Download: Reading Plays – Episode 5 – The Misanthrope

Next weeks play

Arcadia [PDF] by Tom Stoppard. We’re actively soliciting suggestions for what plays to read in the coming weeks and months. If there’s a play you’d like us to discuss – especially if it’s less well known, or if there’s a production of it coming to Dublin soon, let us know in the comments below.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

New Live Show – Threat Detection


Radiomade is a facinating web based Dublin radio station. They ‘hit the headlines’ as they say in the yellow press, late last year with a successful effort to beat the world record number of consecutive interviews. Last July a similar stunt saw station proprietors Jack & Dan host 24 DJs in 24 hours. Point is they’re doing something new, capturing the imagination of a generation disillusioned with Ireland’s utterly terrible and inexplicably popular commercial and semi-state radio offerings.

Just before Christmas I got in touch with Radiomade and suggested a couple of shows to the guys. One is an ambitious monthly culture / comedy offering that it looks like we’ll be debuting in the near future. The other, a weekly discussion about videogames, technology and interactive entertainment kicked off last night. Threat Detection features myself and Exchange Dublin veteran James Van De Waal. Each show starts with a monologue to kick the discussion off, followed by an in-depth dissection of a trend, issue or incident in gaming. To start the series, we felt is was important to address the issue of games as a medium – specifically a growing and ferociously compelling form of immersion.

Here’s the first episode’s opening monologue…

‘There was a general air of disrepair. Shops were boarded up. The pavement was broken and potholed. A few automobiles traveled on the broken streets. They, at least, appeared to be of a slightly advanced design, but they were dented, dirty and noisy… Clothes had not changed nor had the common speech…. It appeared that in four hundred years nothing at all had been accomplished. Many familiar buildings had collapsed. Others still stood. He looked in vain for a newspaper or magazine’.

An excerpt from John D MacDonald’s short fiction ‘Spectator Sport’, published in 1950. In the story a time traveller visits an America three hundred and fifty years hence, discovering a society that has chosen to focus its energy entirely on the creation of ever more compelling interactive dreams. Dreams a man may labour his whole life to permanently inhabit.

Videogames terrify me, not because I dislike them, but because I find their dizzyingly abundant fantastical worlds so all consuming. The great psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott came up with a word for finding one’s life satisfaction in an uncreative imaginary avoidance: He called it ‘fantasying’, the act of escapist self-delusion. At their worst videogames offer the most compelling opportunity for fantasying possible. Let me read you something else…

‘I think the twenty first century will see a social cataclysm larger than that caused by cars, radios and TV combined… The exodus of people from the real world, from our normal daily life, will create a change in social climate that makes global warming look like a tempest in a teacup’.

Thus begins the introduction to Jane McGonigal’s 2011 book ‘Reality is Broken’, with a quote from Edward Castronova’s ‘Exodus to the virtual world: How Online Fun is Changing Reality’. McGonigal attempts to refute this dire warning, suggesting that since games really do provide a more compelling experience than reality, harnessing their power can incentivize social goods and reinvigorate democracy.

Videogames let us embody avatars, alternative versions of self in worlds unbound by our physical limitations. We can experiment with gender, escape into empowerment fantasies or wreak death and destruction on distant or fictional opponents. Games give vent to our secret impossible dreams and desires; they can enlighten us, enervate us, sate us or drain us. Games combine narrative storytelling, music, theatre and with the added lure of interactivity. They are perhaps the ultimate human form of entertainment, and it’s time we took them a little more seriously.

Is Castronova with his dire warnings of a polis abandoned by its citizens a Cassandra, doomed to be ignored as we sleepwalk into a brave new world of dulling distractions? Is McGonigal right in seeing games as a new freedom to extinguish the unpleasant and mundane, a tool to solve our most intractable problems? This is Threat Detection, a new show about videogames.

You can catch Threat Detection live each Tuesday at 6PM GMT on Radiomade, or catch up with past shows here.

Image: Logo based on four hyperboloid bundles in a tetrahedral like intersection by Fdecomite. Used under – Creative Commons Attribution Licence.

Jibberhoof, New Years Show

In which three Irish gentlemen with English accents discuss…

Jibberhoof, Episode 1 (75mins, 65megs)


News Stories of the Year – Wikileaks, Acts of God

TV of the Year – Boardwalk Empire, Walking Dead, Spartacus Blood and Sand,

Movies of the year – A Profit, The Social Network, Network (1976), Scott Pilgrim

Games of the Year – Minecraft, Sleep is Death, Pixeljunk Eden (2008) * Dylan Cuthbert

Person of the year – Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Justin Hall, Plato, Why the Lucky Stiff

Personal Highlights of the year – Andrews trip to America, Johns trip to Italy, Marshmallow Ladyboy Jesus, Cheaper Than Therapy