For over 25 years, An Claidheamh Soluis/The Celtic Arts Center, a member-supported and run non-profit cultural arts organization, has copntinued to preserve and foster the performing and visual arts, languages, music, folklore and traditions of the seven original Celtic nations — Brittany, Cornwall, Galicia, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales — as well as that of their diaspora who continue to create and perform throughout the world.
They offer language classes, dance classes, celebrations, dinners and monthly meetings, all with the purpose of maintaining our collective Celtic heritage.
Up next is their staged reading of Brian Friel’s haunting tale of the unreliability of artistic inspiration, “Faith Healer.” Written in the form of four monologues spoken by three characters in a Rashomon-like exploration of reality as filtered by perception. “Faith Healer” is a play in which three characters struggle to understand the life of Frank Hardy, the play's itinerant healer who can neither understand nor command his unreliable powers, and the lives sacrificed to his destructive charisma. This 1979 play has, in different productions, starred James Mason, Helen Mirren, J. T. Walsh, Ralph Fiennes, Stephen Dillane, and, in two revivals that won him a Critics Circle and a Tony Award for acting, Ian McDiarmid.
This staged reading is directed by Linda Rand, starring J. Downing in the pivotal role of Frank, the Faith Healer, with Jeanine Anderson as his long-suffering wife or partner Grace, and Lorin Henner as Teddy, the Cockney show biz manager. “Faith Healer” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.
Brian Friel’s “Faith Healer”
Sunday, August 19 at 4PM
The Mayflower Club
11110 Victory Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91606
$10.00 for Celtic Arts Center and Mayflower members, $15.00 for non-members. This is a fund-raiser for our cultural institutions, and so the entire cast and crew are donating their skills and talent. http://www.celticartscenter.com/Special_Events/Year_2018/FaithHealerReading.html
A bit about the Celtic Arts Center…
We were actually at Laurel Canyon 11 years ago. At that time, we had a world-class, award-winning theater company, combined with dance classes, three levels of Irish/Gaelic language classes, and the longest-running music session in Los Angeles, including a Slow Play/Learners’ Session. But it was our theater program that really was our claim to fame. We were originally founded as a theater company with an attached school, with the theater supporting the school. Our founder, Brian Heron, who also founded similar centers in New York and Nova Scotia, was a visionary who felt that no one should pay to learn about their own culture. And so it was theater that supported our other programs, and we were brilliantly successful for a time, as one of the most-awarded and best-reviewed small theaters in L.A., often using first-time actors. We had an advantage because of the unique qualities of Irish drama, combining humor, tragedy, and down-to-earth depiction of the lives of ordinary people; Adrien Burke, former president of the Celtic Arts Center, says, “Theater is what the Irish do best!” We left the Laurel Canyon location because of a myriad of factors, including lack of parking and space, and rent increases.
An Claidheamh Soluis/The Celtic Arts Center. Uillean piper Steve Pribyl. Photo by Karl Wm. Klein.
What has Celtic Arts Center been up to since you left the Laurel Canyon center?
After leaving Laurel Canyon, we went to Theatre Unlimited on Camarillo, but we found it to be an uncomfortable and limited space. We found we had to curtail our activities because we could only afford to rent the space one night a week, although we continued to do poetry and theater events at other locations such as The Raven. In 2013, we moved to The Mayflower Club, which is much bigger and offers a good combination of classrooms, social spaces and theater/dance floor space, and although we are still mostly limited to one night a week, we have continued to hold off-site events and occasionally hold events at the Mayflower on Sundays. It has been a good “long- term temporary” home for us. As for what we’re up to now — well, what have we not been up to?? We have maintained our Irish language instruction and brought in teachers, speakers and guest dance instructors. We were the source of the “Rebel Pub Dance” movement (2009-2013), which can best be described as “flashmob dancing.” And we still have the longest-running music session in Los Angeles! Also, we have maintained a core group of Celtic Theater loving individuals who have never failed to participate in our literary presentations (Dylan Thomas and Bloomsday) and commemorative readings (1916 Uprising and Good Friday Peace Accords). And now, for the first time in about seven years, we are returning to Irish drama!
What are your future plans?
We will continue to provide a timeless and invaluable service to the community and look for ways to expand our programs; for example, in the past two years we have held history and art classes, art walks, movie nights and dance parties. We are also beginning a concert series, beginning August 11 with Whisky Sunday, as a joint venture with The Mayflower. We are always looking for ways to increase our appeal in diverse ways, and therefore increase our membership. We are always focused on the future.
Is a Celtic Center in your plan?
Yes, we definitely want to get our own building, a true Center where people can take classes seven days a week. However, in today’s economic climate, finding a permanent home is just as much a challenge for us as it is for the rest of the population. Gentrification and higher real estate prices affect artists just as much as everyone else. The best scenario would be for the City to give us an unused building, or rent it to us at a nominal rate, just as they have done for other theater institutions, including the Los Angeles Theatre Center and the Bilingual Foundation of Arts.
What challenges do you face?
The challenges we face are the same as those facing any other non-profit arts organization: finding and keeping a space to work in, and especially keeping up our members’ and contributors’ enthusiasm, volunteer spirit and creativity. The Celtic Arts Center, at its best, has been not only an outstanding arts organization but a great gathering place, reminiscent of what Ray Oldenburg described as “The Great Good Place” in his 1989 book. It has been and will continue to be a place where people can experience some of the best years of their lives.
Find out more about your Celtic heritage or just enjoy some of their offerings. Follow them on Facebook to stay in touch.
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