Packed Riverside Theatre programme

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COLERAINE’S Riverside Theatre has just launched its autumn 2011 season with packed houses for the first two presentations, which were plays produced and presented by local community organisations.

But for the next fortnight, the programme begins to open out into different and exciting areas.

Firstly, the multi-talented Dominic Graham School of Irish Dance will take to the stage for four performances, nightly at 8pm, from Wednesday to Saturday, September 7 to 11.

Secondly, a brand new exhibition is currently open at the Riverside’s Foyer Gallery by Dr Sarah Edge, Professor of Photography and Cultural Studies at the University of Ulster. It is entitled Traces of Traces: An Exploration of the Albums of William McKinney.

This photographic installation is a visual investigation of the role personal photographs play in the formation of personal identities.

It will explore this theme by examining the photographic albums of William McKinney who lived in the Parish of Carnmoney in mid Antrim during the late Victorian period. It will work creatively drawing upon the information held in the William McKinney archive at Sentry Hill in Newtownabbey.

The William McKinney collection contains hundreds of fascinating photographs and this exhibition will investigate the role they played in creating a personal identity for him which included his desire to be seen as Ulster Scots.

In the week following are two contrasting events. The first is a thriller and a real edge-of-your-seat play it is! The Six Sided Man, is adapted from the darkly comic, best-selling novel by Luke Rhinehart.

It’s a play about a psychiatrist who has decided to live his life strictly according to the dictates of the dice, to which he gives a series of options each times he throws. Of course, as time goes by these same options start to become more and more daring... until he finally...well – just how far will he go? Is there murder in the air?

The play was created and produced by Gavin Robertson, who was responsible for the hit West End show, ‘Thunderbirds F.A.B.’ and also appeared in the original award-winning version of ‘12 Angry Men’, with Bill Bailey, Phil Nichol, Owen O’Neill, Steve Frost et al.

This year he’s teamed up with Nicholas Collett to perform this excellent thriller, after sellout performances in the UK, USA, Hong Kong, and Australia. The English press were lavish in their praise of this show: “Novel and intriguing” The Guardian said. “Excellent comic theatre” said The Scotsman. “Sends a shiver down the spine!” The Times said.

Two days later, on Saturday, September 15 at 8pm, the excellent Anthony Toner will play his first Riverside gig in five years, entitled Mud Slide Slim – and the Riverside is delighted to welcome him back.

One of the north coast’s most popular recording artistes, Anthony is celebrating the 40th anniversary one of the all-time landmark singer songwriter albums - James Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon.

Mud Slide Slim was James Taylor’s third album. Released in April 1971 as the follow-up to his commercial breakthrough and critical triumph, Sweet Baby James, it equalled the acclaim and surpassed the success of its predecessor at the time of its release.

It contained Taylor’s biggest hit single in the U.S., a version of the Carole King standard ‘You’ve got a Friend’. Months later, the album managed to generate another Top 40 hit, ‘Long Ago and Far Away’, which reached 31 on the Billboard Hot 100. Many of the songs became standards in concert, particularly ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’.

This show has been put together by Anthony as a loving celebration of this landmark album. He remembers it as a key influence when he first heard the collection in the early 80s, and it has remained one of his enduring favourites over the intervening years.

Anthony will begin the performance with a short selection of his own, excellent material.

Tickets for all the events described in this article are currently available either by logging onto www.riversidetheatre.org.uk or by telephoning the staffed box office, on its new easy-to-remember ‘phone number 02870 123 123.