I have a few stories to tell from the first three months of living here, so I thought I’d spend some time catching everyone up on what I’ve been doing over here OTHER than going to class and studying theatre (almost) non-stop.
Last month Dublin held their annual Culture Night. Once a year on a Friday night in September the great cultural institutions of Dublin keep their doors open late into the evening and allow the public to wander in and out, all for free. This ranges from the museums and libraries to other, more restricted places like private clubs that wouldn’t normally allow the average man on the street to pass through their doors.
I had been given an assignment by one of my professors to go view a particular painting at Dublin’s National Gallery, so with my friend Elisa in tow, we spent a pleasant September evening wandering in and out of some of Dublin’s more “cultured” establishments.
This is a painting by Caravaggio called The Taking of Christ. It was painted sometime around 1602, and thought lost for hundreds of years before it was found in a Dublin Jesuit’s hall. Professor McGuinness said I should study the use of light, to help with coming up with ideas for set design and lighting for my conceptual Merchant of Venice assignment. But what I really found interesting was a painting by a guy named Lyonel Feininger. This gave me all sorts of ideas about how I wanted to deisgn my (imaginary) set.
After the National Gallery we wandered into the Alliance Francaise, or Dublin’s French Club, more or less. They had stacks of Post-It notes everywhere and invited people to design mosaics on their walls. Lots of kids there having fun.
Then it was on to the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Basically a fancy club where Dublin doctors go to be fancy and…I dunno…talk about heart transplants?
Hmmm, I think after that we wandered into the National Library, which was easily one of my favorite spots.
That’s Haroosh in the above photo, by the way. He came with me to Dublin. More about him another time.
After the library we met up with another friend named Ken and decided to wait in the long line for the Freemason’s Club.
Why such a long line for one particular place? Well, the Freemason’s Club is one of those ultra-exclusive places you never get to see on ordinary days. There’s a long history associated with the Freemasons, and many people have all sorts of crazy theories about how they secretly control all the governments of the world. Of course there’s a Simpsons episode about it.
The actual Freemasons Hall in Dublin is a crazy mish-mash of different rooms all with their own theme. One is a “Knights Templar” theme; another has an Egyptian theme. It’s kind of like going to that part of Epcot Center where all the different countries sit around a lagoon. You just wander from one strange, slightly kitschy place to the next. The main hall feels like a parliamentary hall where nothing important ever gets voted on.
Overall, the Freemasons’ Hall was a big letdown. Just some fancy rooms where a bunch of dudes hang out and probably avoid going home to their families. Anyone can join for an annual membership fee of only 125 Euros… as long as you’re a man. No women allowed. Ugh. No thanks, Freemasons. I need more ladies in my life, not less!
By the way: their website is HILARIOUS in its awful, awful design. Check it out.