Claremorris gets ready for a week long festival of drama

The Claremorris Drama and Fringe Festival got up and running for its 2018 season last night with a performance of John B Keane's, Big Maggie by the Corofin Drama Group from Clare.

The festival will continue nightly in Claremorris Town Hall Theatre until Saturday, March 24, with Ciaran McCauley the adjudicator of the competition section of the festival. You can make a booking for any of the shows by calling (094 ) 9310999 or by logging on to www.townhall.ie

Taking to the stage tonight, Friday, is the Conna Dramatic Society from Cork, with their performance of Caught in the Net, by Ray Cooney. Caught in the Net is a sequal to Cooney's Run For Your Wife. This performance will be followed by two 15 minute fringe plays in the Town Hall Studio.

On St Patrick's night, March 17, Birdview Drama Group will perform Stolen Child by Bairbre Ni Chaoimh and Yvonne Quinn. Stolen Child tells the story of a woman adopted at birth who enlists the help of a colourful private detective to search for her mother and uncover the secrets of her family history. This performance will be followed by two 15 minute fringe plays in the Town Hall Studio.

Last year's open competition winners, the Bradán Players from Leixlip, will return to the stage on Sunday, March 18, with a production of Michael West's, Conservatory. This play sees an elderly couple sit in a dark room in their house, doing the crossword, taking their tablets and knitting, all the while raking over a traumatic past that has all but destroyed them. It is a compelling play about loss and family which shows that happiness is not a necessary condition of togetherness. This performance will be followed by two 15 minute fringe plays in the Town Hall Studio.

Noel Coward's classic Blithe Spirit will take to the stage on Monday, March 19, with a performance by Thurles Drama Group. The story tells the tale of the skeptical novelist Charles Condomine who invites self-proclaimed medium Madame Arcati to his home for a séance, hoping to gather material for a new book. When the hapless psychic accidentally summons the spirit of Condomine's late wife, Elvira, his home and life are quickly turned into a shambles as his wife's ghost torments both him and his new bride.

The Compántas Lir group from Claregalway will perform Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie on Tuesday, March 20. The play tells the story of Amanda Wingfield who after being abandoned by her husband, comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, more gracious, life in Blue Mountain when she was pursued by gentlemen callers. Her son Tom, a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure and escape from his mother’s suffocating embrace, while Laura, her shy daughter, has her glass menagerie and her memories. Amanda is desperate to find a suitable husband for her daughter but when a long awaited gentleman caller does arrive Laura’s romantic illusions are crushed.

Local group Clann Machua from Kiltimagh will put on a performance of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Innismann on Wednesday, March 21. The play is a tragicomedy about life on the desolate Aran Island of Inishmaan in 1934. The inhabitants are excited to learn of a Hollywood film crew's pending arrival in neighbouring Inishmore to make a documentary about life on the islands. "Cripple" Billy Claven, who is eager to escape the gossip, cruelty and boredom of Inishmaan, vies for a part in the film, and to everyone's surprise, the orphan and outcast gets his chance.... or so some believe.

Three Days of Rain by the Butt Drama Group from Ballybofey is where all eyes will be on Thursday, March 22. Richard Greenberg's work is considered by many to be one of the finest American plays of recent years. It is a haunting, clever, humorous, and deeply touching drama that explores love, infidelity, fate, genius, madness and how easily we can misinterpret the past. This performance will be followed by two 15 minute fringe plays in the Town Hall Studio.

On Friday, March 23 - Harold Pinter's, No Man's Land will be performed by the Schull Drama Group from West Cork. In No Man's Land, two elderly men have met in a London pub. Spooner says he's a poet; Hirst might be a critic. They drink a great deal and they talk about the past, which perhaps they share. Pinter’s poetic writing gives No Man's Land a dream-like, surreal, quality. It explores a number of themes including the unreliability of memory and the frailty of human connections. This performance will be followed by two 15 minute fringe plays in the Town Hall Studio - which will be the final night of the fringe festival.

The curtain will come down on the festival with the Lifford Players' performance of Dancing at Lughnasa on Saturday, March 24. Brian Friel's classic play takes place in 1936 at harvest time in Donegal. In a house just outside the village of Ballybeg, live the five Mundy sisters, barely making ends meet, their ages ranging from 26 to 40. The two male members of the household are brother Jack, a missionary priest, sent home from Africa by his superiors after 25 years, and the seven-year-old child of Chris, the youngest sister. In depicting two days in the lives of this family, Brian Friel evokes not simply the interior landscape of a group of human beings trapped in their domestic situation, but the wider landscape of which they are a part.

This performance will be followed by the final adjudication and presentation of prizes for both the full length and fringe festival competitions. For full information on the festival log on to, www.claremorrisdramafestival.com or www.fringe.ie

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