An Taibhdhearc to remember Máire Stafford

Máire Stafford.

Máire Stafford.

ON FRIDAY March 6 at 8pm, An Taibhdhearc will stage Oiche Mháire Stafford, an all-star commemorative evening in honour of the late Máire Stafford, who, for more than 60 years was involved with the theatre as an actor, director, translator, costume designer, and lyricist, fully earning her soubriquet ‘Queen of An Taibhdhearc’.

Máire passed away in July of last year and the An Taibhdhearc event is being held on what would have been her birthday. Recognition will be given to all the work Máire did for the theatre and there will be extracts from certain plays she took part in, as well as Irish dancing, music, and extracts from operas that she translated.

“We’re trying to give an example of all the different talents she used in the theatre and the different aspects of her involvement,” says Noreen Boylan, who was involved in putting the programme together. “The first half of the show will feature slides and photographs of Márie’s various performances in An Taibhdhearc and that will be narrated by her son, Maeliosa Stafford, who is coming home from Australia for the event.”

This will be followed by an actor doing an excerpt from one of the plays Máire appeared in, there will be a performance of a song she translated, and a dance performance featuring costumes she embroidered. There will then be a scene from another play.

The second half of the event opens with an eight-minute black and white silent film, Old Age, that Máire acted in with Joe Pilkington. The film was made by Will Silke in 1996 and Boylan describes it as “very poignant”. After the screening the An Taibhdhearc singers and soloists will perform arias and a selection of opera pieces Máire translated. Among the participating singers are Frank Naughton, Mícheál Ó hAinnín, and Sandra Schalks.

One of the play excerpts will feature Anne Marie Horan performing a scene from John B Keane’s Big Maggie, which was one of the plays and roles Máire excelled in during her long Taibhdhearc career.

“Máire first got involved with An Taibhdhearc in 1950,” Boylan reveals. “She was very involved with the costumes, she was always sewing them, mending them, renewing them and was essentially the theatre’s costume curator for many many years and she guarded them very carefully. There will be examples of some of her costumes on display on the night which will be nice for people to see. Even though her declining health prevented her being actively involved with the company in recent times she still faithfully attended shows right up to last year.”

The commemorative night will be presented by Mícheál Ó hAinnín and Paddy Daley is the event’s musical director. Máire’s husband, Seán, the extended Stafford family and close friends will be among those attending on the night.

For more information contact 091 - 562024 or email [email protected].

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