Edinburgh Report! Máire Clerkin dispatches from bonny Scotland

I have just completed nearly a month in Edinburgh, performing at the world famous Fringe Festival, with my show The Bad Arm: Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer, at The Gilded Balloon, daily. The audience numbers were really good, I got great feedback and here are a few quotes from reviewers:

R G Balgray: The Public Reviews
A strikingly-mobile evocation of her personal life and times….virtuoso performance.

Mary Brennan: The Herald
A roguishly comedic monologue of memories that nonetheless extends beyond the personal to a more general evocation of the times. Born London-Irish, Clerkin pithily conveys the trials of being caught between two cultures – at home in neither and suspect in both.

Michael Coveney: Whats On Stage
Clerkin's a Riverdance-standard hoofer with a flaw, and her fancy footwork and gliding, gazelle-like movement are a joy.

Kelly Apter: The Scotsman
Full of fun… she is also a fine comic actor.

Elaine Liner: Broadway Baby
She's a charming storyteller and lively comic actor.

Val McDermid: Twitter
Excellent entertainment from @mauraclerkin in The Bad Arm @edfringe Exposing the cut-throat world of Irish dancing wi LOL humour and pathos.

The whole adventure was made possible by 186 people who donated funds on Kickstarter towards my project. Without their generosity, this could not have happened. Thank you to ALL who contributed or gave up their time to help publicize it. Donors include Associate Producers Howard Chu, Unateresa Gormley and Darren Maguire; Sponsors of The Bad Arm Martin Percival, Ronan McCormack, Jeanefer Jean-Charles, Kevin Marron & Rachel Rath, Andy Martyn, Pete and Lynda Haworth, Mary McGinty, Barry Gray, Mo & Mo Moshay, Michael Prine Jr., Paul Tracey and Susan Cambigue Tracey, Hilary Joyce Owens, and Chloe van Dyck. And a big shout out to Peter Kors, Lorraine Chambers, Tara Reid, John Halpin, Cara Butler, Karen N. Kahler, Jim Murrihy, Deirdre Goulding, Terry Gillan, Bridie Willis, Dudley Saunders, Denise, Angela Hogan, Claire, Christine Stryker, Marty Grosse, Sharon & Sheila Whelan, Karl Drake, Brian, Blathnaid, Michelle Malone Chiles, Pamela Webster, Majella Milne, Chris Naish, Michael Mullane, John Shay, Orfhlaith Ni Bhriain, David Neustein, Donna Makins, Chris & Rosemary McGrory, Andi, Pearl Jordan, Andrea Mott, Lisa Fratianni, Anne Hall, Judy DeNapoli, Julie McNamara, Alice Ryan, Ciara Sexton, Deborah Cook, Irish Import Shop, Thomas Bracken, McNulty Irish Dancers, Wendy Windsor, Sheila Dupuis, Maeve Corr, Caterina Coyne, Mirian Hasani, A.J. Roach, Sian Allen, Semple-Morris Family, Petra Lent McCarron, Christina Straussburg, Annie Power, Chris Wilson, Gobnait, Lindy Franklin, Ann Fraser, Johnny McKenna, Jeny, Katherine Nesteby, Thea Quigley, T. Kennelly, Colleen Martin, Elizabeth Liang, Tara Barry-Phelan, Alan Scariff, Patrick O'Hare, Dan O'Connor, Richard Bizot, Susan Picking, Momo, Robert McCormack, Maeve, Vera McCormack, Mike Rock, Jackie Smith, Angela Clerkin, Mary Heavey Quinn, Lisa Pirie, Kira Ott, Sarah Morgan-Arnold, Beth Conley, Jason Lord, Michael Blaha, Douglas Louwder, Whiskey Sunday, Allison Weber Erickson, Kevin Tierney, Moira McMahon, Natalie, Johnny O'Callaghan. Plus all those backers who prefer to remain anonymous.

Success was also due to my top team: director Dan O'Connor, technical manager Mitchell Roche, producers Michael Blaha and Nigel Miles-Thomas, publicist David Burns, and to the many supporters from the Irish dancing community, especially several teachers who spread the word and brought a crowd. And my first teacher, Sheila Clerkin.

My aching knees are recovering, and I have gained so much inspiration from attending the Fringe and getting to see some magnificent shows by fellow performers. I am honored to have been part of this terrific festival.

Maire Clerkin has just spent a fantastic week judging the North American Irish Dancing Championships in Providence, Rhode Island. All fired up after watching some spectacular dancers and very creative choreography, she is now putting all her focus on preparing for her show, 'The Bad Arm - Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer'.


Tickets are selling fast! It's all very exciting and I'm busy gearing up for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Many thanks to the many supporters and well wishers. In particular, I am grateful to our Associate Producers: Howard Chu, Unateresa Gormley, and Darren Maguire, and generous Sponsors: Martin Percival, Ronan McCormack, Jeanefer Jean-Charles, Kevin Marron & Rachel Rath, Andy Martyn, Pete and Lynda Haworth, Mary McGinty, Barry Gray, Mo & Mo Moshay, Michael Prine Jr., Paul Tracey and Susan Cambigue Tracey, Hilary Joyce Owens, and Chloe van Dyck.

Your belief in the show and your generosity are truly fabulous.

I am also indebted to anonymous donors and those who asked not to be named - you know who you are, so THANK YOU!!!

Máire's one-woman show

The Bad Arm – Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer, written and performed by Máire Clerkin , with technical management by Mitchell Roché. Raw rhythms. Tall tales. Arse-clenching comedy.

"Rollicking percussive jigs from a scowling Londoner, in this uproarious antidote to Riverdance. Maire Clerkin kicks arse in laugh-till-you-cry poignant comedy - hotfoot from Hollywood, Chicago and Dublin."
Critic's pick, Backstage

The Bad Arm - Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer is a one-woman show written and performed by Máire Clerkin and directed by Dan O'Connor. It was performed at Bang Theatre in Hollywood in 2008, to enthusiastic audiences and fabulous reviews! Máire is now planning to take the show on tour.

If you thought Irish dancers were all curly-haired cutie-pies with perfect posture, meet a scowling girl from London in this outrageous antidote to 'Riverdance'.

This hour long comic play is an uproarious yet poignant one-woman play by London-Irish writer-performer Máire Clerkin. Amid astounding bursts of rhythm and physical theatre, this ugly-duckling-never-quite-swan recounts her experiences of sex and pubs and rock and roll like only a convent-educated Irish catholic girl can.

Máire Clerkin jumps in and out of Irish dancing shoes, clicking and kicking her way across the stage in this percussive account of being English in Ireland, Irish in England and a pink-haired punk in a grey city. Pungent vintage photos of not-so-swinging London illustrate Clerkin's woeful but hilarious personal history as the disappointing daughter of a successful Irish Dancing teacher in 1970s London. Clerkin's 'glorious riffs of traditional Irish dance… animated impersonations and snapshot transitions…' (LA WEEKLY) deliver an hour of rich, dark comedy.


When Clerkin puts on her dancing shoes, her feet twinkle as merrily as the humour she stamps on that racketty past. - The Herald Scotland :::Read full article online

Nearly three decades on since last performing at the Edinburgh Fringe with The Hairy Marys Irish dance troupe, Máire Clerkin returns to the Festival with plenty of confessions to share. - TW | Edinburgh :::Read full article online

Help The Bad Arm Get to Scotland - Irish Dancing & Culture Magazine ::: Read full article online

Bad arm, bitter pill: Ex-Irish dancer tells all - She finds redemption though retrospection. Those artful jigs. Those brilliantly executed hornpipes. Those tapping toes. Those long, high-flying legs. Sweet, hardworking, skilled little Maire Clerkin would be the very picture of Irish dancing's graceful ideal…if it weren't for that one protruding, silhouette-destroying arm. That bad, bad arm. Poor thing. She'll never grow up to hoof it in "Riverdance" — let alone win the approval of her gifted, stern, dance teacher/mother. - Scott Stiffler, Downtown Express, NY ::: Read full review online

The Bad Arm of a Sure Foot: comic Irish Dance Theatre! "Growing up an Irish dancer, your chief emotion is jealousy," Clerkin informs us, and proceeds to demonstrate it with her tale of sidestepping into dance, despite a right arm that kept wanting to fly from her side. She was jealous of other girls who got more praise from her mum, who ran the dance school (Mum overcompensated). She was jealous of the little girls from poor families to whom she had to lend her costume (in one funny sequence, she can't run onstage to get her trophy, because she's in her underwear). - Gwen Orel, New York Irish Arts, NY ::: Read full review online

On a recent PBS-TV Riverdance special, I learned that the dancers keep their arms stiff at their sides and move only their legs to keep the dancing prim and asexual. Unfortunately for Maire Clerkin, daughter of a popular Irish dance teacher, she had this misbehaving right arm that insisted on creeping up into a right angle. Maire (pronounced "Maura," though sometimes it sounds like "Moira") shares her coming-of-age story in her solo show The Bad Arm: Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer, written by Clerkin, directed by Dan O'Connor. Clerkin offers her story as "the anti-Riverdance." - Melanie N. Lee, nytheatre.com, NY ::: Read full review online

As a “Plastic Paddy” in ’70s London, neither shore of the Irish Sea welcomed Máire Clerkin as one of its own, and an errant right elbow frequently jabbed its way between her and approval from her folk-dance teacher mother, despite genuine interest in carrying on the family tradition. Clerkin jigs among various UK accents and precise characterizations with ease, drawing plenty of laughs at the expense of her younger self, but we know the bumbling child she describes will become the warm, talented personality before us, so it all goes down easy. - Zachary Whittenburg, Time Out, Chicago ::: Read full review online

"The focal point of Clerkin's coming of age saga is her right elbow… a "bad arm" that her mother says is responsible for her placing poorly in competitions...keeping both arms slammed into one's body emerges as a metaphoric constriction in a world that Clerkin captures so meticulously." Stephen Leigh Morris, LA Weekly ::: Read full review online

"At times poignant and at times hysterically funny." Brooke Alberts, Folkworks Magazine ::: Read full review online

"Clerkin is a gifted writer-actor." Dany Margolies, Backstage ::: Read full review online

"Maire Clerkin's comic memoir of her misspent youth is one of the unexpected highlights of the Hollywood Fringe." Jordan Young, LA Arts Examiner

"Her wit and self-deprecating humor is both hysterical and heartfelt….Directed by Dan O'Connor, the simple staging with the mixture of dancing, projected photos and music wonderfully aids Clerkin's flawless and magnetic stage presence. Funny, unique and great Irish dancing - definitely a must see." Ashley Steed, LA Theatre Review

The Bad Arm - Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer is now available for touring! To book a performance, enquire about technical specifications, view a DVD recording or discuss tour dates, please contact maire@maireclerkin.com

Máire is providing an educational supplement to her performance work. Transforming Irish Folk Tales into Dance Theatre and Secret Diaries: Exposing the Dancer Inside are ideal workshop subjects for students of theatre, dance and Celtic Studies.

This show was sponsored by Heather Woodbury's Fomenting Arts Unlimited, and was originally funded by the Durfee Foundation.

©Maire Clerkin 2010
Phone: 310 801 5520 or email: maire@maireclerkin.com

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