Claregalway drama festival starts tonight

Great value for drama fans with nine-night feast of drama

Pictured at the launch of the Claregalway Drama Festival were Eilish McLoughlin of Mystical Rose nursing home (sponsor) and Dermot Hession of Compántas Lir. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Pictured at the launch of the Claregalway Drama Festival were Eilish McLoughlin of Mystical Rose nursing home (sponsor) and Dermot Hession of Compántas Lir. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

The finest amateur drama talent in the country will head to Claregalway from tonight (Thursday ) March 13 when the Claregalway Drama Festival gets under way at the local leisure centre.

The event which will run until Friday March 21, will see nine of the best amateur drama groups in Ireland take to the stage in the battle for points on the All-Ireland drama circuit.

The community centre in Claregalway was this week completely transformed into a comfortable theatre with tiered seating, free refreshments, and wonderful entertainment for the duration of the event.

Tickets for the festival can be purhcased at the door each night. Admission is €10 and €5 for OAPs. Season tickets for €50 are available also, representing tremendous value for someone who wants to see nine plays in nine nights. Doors open at 7pm and plays commence at 8pm sharp.

Chairman Seamus McNulty told the launch last week that the festival is a remarkable event that is made possible by the sterling work of a dedicated committee. He said that the festival has made an enormous contribution to the development of amateur drama in the region.

Patrons can enjoy teas and refreshments at the interval as well as full bar facilities in the Festival Club in the centre after each performance.

The festival kicks off tonight (Thursday ) with the local drama group Compántas Lir taking the stage with their production of the classic play Eclipsed by Patricia Burke Brogan.

Thursday March 13 Eclipsed by Patricia Burke Brogan, performed by Compantás Lir.

Eclipsed describes an Ireland where attitudes were either very black or white and where human frailty was met with harshness and a lack of Christian compassion. Unmarried mothers were disowned and abandoned by their families while, at the same time, the concept of an unmarried father was unknown. Despised and rejected by a society where “out of sight, out of mind” was the solution of the day, those unfortunates either took the boat to England or were signed into homes for unmarried mothers. The play examines the price paid by the nuns into whose care they were entrusted. It is a tragic story, interspersed with laughter, which holds the harsh attitudes of society up to the scrutiny, but also shows the resilience of the human spirit.

Friday March 14 No Romance, by Nancy Harris, performed by Skibbereen Theatre Co.

Two old school friends share uncomfortable secrets: a woman confronts her husband over a shocking discovery; an elderly woman reveals her abusive past. They say everyone has a skeleton in their closet and this is certainly true of the characters in Nancy Harris’ new play ‘No Romance’. Set in three separate acts, “No Romance” is an honest, poignant and often hilarious portrayal of people’s innermost secrets that will have the audience laughing hard at the painful truths exposed. Published in 2011, and by one of Ireland’s most exciting young playwrights, the play was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre and insightfully addresses issues and taboos modern audiences face. Not Suitable for Children.

Saturday March 15 Big Maggie by John B Keane, performed by Bridge Drama Group

Big Maggie by John B Keane is a modern Irish classic. It is set in 1960s Ireland and is a compelling portrait of a woman who is determined to take control of her life following the death of her husband. Shocking for its time – the play premiered in 1969 – Keane painted a portrait of the dark side of Irish family life with Maggie as a complex figure, far from the clichés of the nurturing ‘Irish Mammy’. It is an enormously entertaining and often funny play but with an underlying sense of sadness and tragedy.

Sunday March 16 The Devil’s Céilí, by Philip Doherty & Kevin McGahern, performed by Corn Mill Theatre Group

In a Ceilí hall somewhere in Cavan in the 1960’s the devil appeared. . . . (Not Suitable for Children )

Monday March 17 The New Electric Ballroom, by Enda Walsh, performed by Corofin Drama Group

Two sisters, Breda and Clara, cocoon themselves in their house in a remote Irish town of gossip and fish. The sisters bring storytelling to a new level to avoid truly living. They obsessively relive the time when, as 17-year-olds, they were nearly seduced at the New Electric Ballroom by the Roller Royle, the singer in a touring band. Their younger sister, Ada, grew up under the shadow of this story and is, as a result, a woman afraid of emotion. At the age of 40, Ada yearns for what life and love have to offer. Patsy, the local fishmonger, is lonesome too, but despite constantly calling to the house cannot get up the courage to approach Ada. Could Patsy and Ada provide new beginnings for each other? In this play Enda Walsh explores the question: “Is it better to live and risk being hurt than to feel nothing at all?”

Tuesday March 18, Agnes of God, by John Pielmeier, performed by Glenamaddy Players

A young nun is accused of the manslaughter of her new -born child. A psychiatrist is chosen by the court to determine whether she is fit to plead. The play deals with the relationship between the Reverend Mother, the psychiatrist and Agnes. This is a powerful piece of theatre not to be missed.

(Not Suitable for Children )

Wednesday March 19 On Such As We, by Billy Roche, performed by DADS, Dunmore

Oweney's barber shop and the rooms to let above it offer refuge to a host of lonely hearts: a recently laid-off hotel night porter, an angry young artist, an orphan girl, a wounded old widower, a likeable bruiser and the beautiful Maeve. All of them, in their various ways, fall under Oweney's loving spell.

Thursday March 20 Any Given Day, by Linda McLean, performed by Yellow Moon Theatre Co.

The play centres around a vulnerable couple desperately trying to cope with the world around them and a fledgling romance that promises warmth to people left in the cold. But, as in real life, everything does not run smoothly, small decisions have devastating impacts on those least expecting it and the audience are left questioning their own responsibilities and attitudes. (Not Suitable for Children )

Friday March 21 A View from the Bridge, by Arthur Miller, performed by Thurles Drama Group

A View from the Bridge is a play about sexual desire set in Brooklyn, New York, 1956. Eddie Carbone, an Italian-American longshoreman, gives accommodation in his home to his wife Beatrice’s cousins, Marco and Rodolpho. The brothers have arrived in New York from Sicily to work illegally. But trouble brews when Eddie’s orphaned niece Catherine falls in love with the handsome Rodolpho. Eddie’s improper feelings for his niece are brought into perspective as Catherine and Rodolpho’s relationship blossoms and they begin to talk of marriage. In an attempt to prevent this happening Eddie tries to insinuate that Rodolpho is homosexual.

The play is told from the viewpoint of Alfieri, the family lawyer. He objectively guides us through the events of the story. He is the teller of an incredible story that he cannot change. Sexual obsession and retribution eventually catapult Eddie Carbone on the road to his own destruction. The play is another one of Arthur Miller’s classics.

For details contact claregalwayd[email protected] and check Facebook for daily updates. Contact number for ticket details is 086 8981731.

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