An Insight into Dublin’s Underground Cultural Performance Circle

Aoife Horan

In a nook under the grounds of the International Bar, an ensemble of young Irish musicians, poets and comedians get together every Monday evening and perform with each other for each other and the passerby.

This event is known as the Circle Sessions, a Not for Profit night that is hosted in the hope that the acts that perform there can hone their crafts under the city weekly and pursue them outside, and whose merchandise pertains organisers sticking their logo onto lollipops every Friday night.

For three hours and for no fee, unless you purchase merchandise, you get to watch a variety of young budding Irish acts perform for you, with the occasional international vignette within it, with a wealth of talent difficult to condense into an article.

A sharp and intergenerational view of life, inequality, love, and class structure in Ireland is delivered within the confined walls of the grubby basement, by a group of performers who put themselves forward, with a pint glass kept in an alcove for paper sign-ups.

“I come back every week never knowing what I’m going to get,” says David Halpin, a surveyor by day and the organiser and host of the Circle Sessions by night, a position he’s maintained for three and a half years.

Amongst the Sessions many wonderful absurdities is the unspoken policy of silence when an act is on until a song, or bit, or piece is finished, a rule that not only works but adds to the intimacy of the performances because you can not hear the listeners.

“Some people come up and you put your head in your hands hoping they never come back again.” says Dave continuing to explain the nature of the variety of the show “then there are others get up and you can see them playing to a crowd of 80,000 at Electric Picnic.”

Highlights of the week 14 included Dale O’Hanlon, a young Coolock born singer, whose folky indie tones, lend themselves towards conversely bubbly and introspective lyrics about the life of young people in the area, of afterseshes and an ever-pressing desire to be young again.

Young poet, Emmet O’Brien, who bore all on stage, in an emotion-driven, open performance of his work about, death, suicide and drug culture amongst young people in Ireland as well as Barry Kirwan whose poem “Those People” was a wry look at Class structure and elitism in Ireland, both being food for thought.

Of the comedic acts, first timer Ben Butler brought an added element of good-natured humour to the evening.

If you wish to catch this well organised night of acts you may very well be paying tickets to see in the future, you can catch it in the basement of the International Bar every Monday at eight o’clock.

Or alternatively, if poetry is just up your alley, on Poetry Day Ireland, the 26th of April, the Circle Sessions are hosting a night of 14 acts in the Mercantile under the theme of Intimacy.

And one more thing; seats are at a premium so Wear Comfortable Shoes

Aoife Horan

Image Credit: Circle Sessions