Meet Mullingar’s young directors

Mullingar Arts Centre, in another of their community outreach programmes, is about to give a group of talented local students the opportunity to strut their stuff - not on the stage, but behind the scenes, in a directorial capacity.

Orla Connaughton, Ben Mulligan, Shane Bardon, Lauren Devine, and Matt Harte, all aged between 16 and 19, responded to an invitation from the Arts Centre to be considered for the chance to direct a one-act play. They were selected from amongst the applicants, based on interviews by a panel of experts: Seán Lynch, Aidan Ennis, and Denise Whelehan.

The young directors were then given a list of five short plays, and asked to rate them in order of preference. Four of them were given their first choice, and Orla’s play was second on her list, but she is, nevertheless, very pleased with the outcome.

The plays in question are: A Life With No Joy In It, by David Mamet (Orla ); Tender Offer, by Wendy Wasserstein (Ben ); Teeth, by Tina Howe (Lauren ); Gray Matter by Jeanette D Farr (Shane ); and The Last Yankee, by Arthur Miller (Matt ).

The young directors have been given total creative control over their respective plays, from casting to final staging. There will, of course, be support available to them if they choose to avail of it, but otherwise their mentors will be adopting a hands-off policy.

The young directors are all hoping to pursue careers in the performing and creative arts: acting, directing, and film-making. This initiative by Mullingar Arts Centre represents the chance to acquire invaluable knowledge and insight on a try-before-you-buy basis.

When asked what they were hoping for from the experience, Shane Bardon said: “I think we’d hope to have the audience in the palms of our hands, from start to finish,” with which sentiment everyone agreed.

“We will be conducting open auditions for 14- to 20-year-olds at the Mullingar Arts Centre, on Sunday March 11, at 6pm,” said Orla Connaughton, “and we’d like to encourage everyone to come along and give it a try!”

Seán Lynch, director of the Mullingar Arts Centre, and driving force behind the initiative said: “I thought it would be a valuable exercise for anyone who was interested to see exactly what’s involved from the other side, so to speak. The responsibilities that go along with the director’s cap are so many and so varied, it’s a side of the business that would not appeal to everyone, so we conducted interviews to ascertain that our young directors would have what it takes to take on this challenge!”

The young directors will present their plays at the Mullingar Arts Centre on Friday April 27 at 8pm.

Tickets are available from the box office on (044 ) 9347777.

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