The finest amateur drama talent in the country will head to Claregalway from tonight (Thursday ) March 11 when the Claregalway Drama Festival gets under way at the local leisure centre.
The event which will run until Friday March 19 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.
Chairman Mike Hession 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.
The festival kicks off tonight Thursday with the local drama group Compántas Lir taking the stage with their production of the classic play I Do Not Like Thee, Dr Fell by Bernard Farrell. Compántas came within a point of winning the All-Ireland title last year with their production of Johnny Belinda and this year they will be trying to exceed that success. Claregalway audiences will also get a chance to see other local groups, DADS from Dunmore with their production of The Last Apache Reunion, also by Bernard Farrell, while the Glenamaddy Players will perform Moonshine. Glenamaddy will host the All-Ireland Confined Finals in April, so there is an extra incentive for themselves and the other Galway groups to get there.
The full programme is:
Thursday March 11
I Do Not Like Thee Dr Fell by Bernard Farrell (Confined )
This black comedy deals with the happenings at an all-night group encounter.
Suzy, the group facilitator, makes valiant efforts to make the sessions work. Joe Fell, a member of the group, thwarts her efforts at every opportunity and in the process he mercilessly exposes the foibles of his fellow clients. Paddy, the Group Attendant, who represents the world of reality, thinks they are all ‘weirdos’.
Friday March 12
Corofin Dramatic Society
Doubt A Parable by John Clancy (Open )
St Nicholas School in the Bronx, New York has as its principal Sr. Aloysius, who holds staunchly to her black and white views of the world. The old ways are still dominant in behaviour, dress and morality. One of the key elements of Doubt is the issue of certainty.
Saturday March 13
Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward (Open )
When Charles and Ruth Condomine invite local eccentric Madame Arcati to perform a séance in their home, they think they are in for a night of high jinx rather than high spirits. But when she accidentally conjures up the spirit of Charles’ first wife Elvira, it all begins to go bump in the night.
Sunday March 14
Shoestring Theatre Co.
The Salvage Shop by Jim Nolan (Open )
The Salvage Shop, set in the seaside town of Garris, hinges on the fraught relationship between Sylvie Tansey, maestro to the local brass band reluctant to relinquish his position, and his forbearing son Eddie. The consoling force of opera and the music of the band provides a soundtrack for the ambitions, great and small, of the several characters and for their inabilities and efforts to connect as they negotiate ways to salve the wounds of a family and the sores of a community.
Monday March 15
Moonshine by Jim Nolan (Confined )
Easter, in a seaside village in the south of Ireland. The Protestant church is closing down and the local under-taker is determined to stage a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Around these facts, Jim Nolan builds a moving and memorable play in which members of a motley cast search for their private resurrections.
Tuesday March 16
Dunmore Amateur Dramatic Society, DADS
The Last Apache Reunion by Bernard Farrell (Confined )
A group of former school pals gather in their old schoolhouse for a last reunion before the school is demolished. A great night is in store but there are sinister forces at work which expose the strains within the friendship and it turns out that all is not what it seems to be.
Wednesday March 17
Agnes of God by John Pielmeire (Open )
Dr. Martha Livingstone, a court appointed psychiatrist is asked to determine the sanity of a young nun accused of murdering her own baby.
Thursday March 18
Doonbeg Drama Group
Big Maggie by John B Keane (Confined )
The play centres on Maggie Polpin, a domineering woman who has buried her husband after a loveless marriage and now rules the family with a rod of iron.
Friday March 19
Letter From America, by Liam Howard (Open )
Letter From America, based loosely on a true story, is set in 1957 as the Harrington family anticipate the return of their long lost brother. Thirty years earlier, not very many years after the civil war, Jimmy Harrington left home following a domestic dispute with his father. His departure in 1927 left the family in bewilderment, their father flatly refusing to discuss the cause of Jimmy’s leaving.