Thursday 18 January 2018

Thrifty 'Big Maggie' worked the magic for Druid

Gordon Deegan and Nicola Anderson

IT is the story of an embittered Irish matriarch who takes power into her own hands following her husband's death and turfs her children out of the nest in order to secure her own financial survival.

But the focus on monetary rewards in 'Big Maggie' was happily not limited to the plot – John B Keane's masterpiece has also played a pivotal role in turning around the fortunes of the Druid Theatre.

The huge box-office success put the award-winning Galway theatre company back in profit last year.

Directed by Garry Hynes and with Keith Duffy playing the role of the rakish lothario, 'Big Maggie' was one of the highlights of the Druid year, selling out throughout its run.

Martin McDonagh's 'Cripple of Inishmaan' also represented a significant success.

Financial figures show that the Galway-based theatre company recorded a profit of almost €200,000 last year. It followed a year of woe in 2010, which saw the company sustain a loss of over €250,000.

A spokesperson said the surplus was the result of a financial strategy put in place to deal with the losses of 2010 and to place the company on a safe financial footing.

This was done ahead of their major project, Druid-Murphy – a trio of Tom Murphy plays that packed houses in Galway in May, opened in London in June and played the Lincoln and Kennedy Centres in America.

The tour saw artistic director Garry Hynes nominated for best director in the UK Theatre Awards.

The Druid received a €840,000 grant from the Arts Council in 2011/12 – which represented an accumulated 8pc cut since 2009.

A spokesperson said that in the "challenging conditions" of the continued deterioration in their Arts Council funding, they were glad to have raised sufficient funding from other sources to make good on their commitment to produce DruidMurphy.

DruidMurphy will tour this spring, visiting Galway, Tralee, Dublin, Portlaoise, Ennis, Letterkenny, Longford, Dun Laoghaire and Limerick.

Irish Independent

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