Thursday 18 April 2019

Nine groups to tread the boards at South Wicklow Drama Festival

The cast of the Gorey Little Theatre production of ‘Bloomsday’: Tom Fanthom, Jan Cullen, Karen Dunbar and Reece Hughes
The cast of the Gorey Little Theatre production of ‘Bloomsday’: Tom Fanthom, Jan Cullen, Karen Dunbar and Reece Hughes
The cast of the Kilrush Drama Group production of The Steward of Christendom: Niall Kehoe, Stephen Kehoe, Jane Kinsella, Michael Dunbar, Cora Tyrrell, Joe Sinnott, Maire Doran and Olivia Mathews. (Missing from photo: Brendan Doyle)

Esther Hayden

The stage is set for the 14th annual South Wicklow Drama Festival.

The festival will run between Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 23, in St Brigid's Hall, Carnew and the festival adjudicator is Ailbhe Garvey Hughes.

Ailbhe has been involved in theatre for most of her life. She holds a Fellowship in Speech and Drama from the London College of Music and a Licentiate from Trinity College. She is a former All Ireland 'Best Actress' winner.

She played with An Taibhdearc (The Irish Language Theatre) and Druid Theatre Company. She played roles in 'A Galway Girl', "'Pursuit of Pleasure', 'The Importance of Being Earnest', Sam Sheppard's 'Action', Ibsen's 'A Doll's House', Bernard Farrell's 'I Do Not like Thee Dr Fell', Eugene O'Neill's 'Touch of The Poet', Brian Friel's 'Philadelphia Here I Come', Lorca's 'House of Bernarda Alba', Neil Simons 'Come Blow Your Horn' to name but a few. She has worked as a professional actor, director, adjudicator and teacher for over 30 years

She has also been teaching drama to primary, secondary and third level students for many years and regularly gives group workshops. Ailbhe is a member of the Association of Drama Adjudicators, The Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama (MSTSD), an examiner for The Royal Irish Academy and is an Adjudicator member of The British and International Federation of Festivals.

This year's festival has a wonderful and varied line up of plays lined up with local groups from Wexford and Wicklow taking part along with drama groups from Cork and Armagh.

The festival kicks on Friday, March 15, with Tinahely Variety Group performing 'Eclipsed' by Patricia Burke Brogan.

Framed by a present-day prologue and epilogue, the play is set in 1963 in a convent laundry at St. Paul's Home for Penitent Women in Killmacha, Ireland. 'Eclipsed' explores the practice of making pregnant and unwed Irish mothers work as 'penitents' in church-run laundries. Supervised by nuns who regarded these women as mindless vessels of evil, the women were treated as virtual slaves and their infants were forcibly put up for adoption.

On Saturday, March 16, Wexford Drama Group take to the stage with 'Rabbit Hole' by David Lindsay-Abaire.

In the play Becca and Howie Corbett have a picture perfect family life in the suburbs of New York until a random, tragic accident takes the life of their four-year old son. Soon after, Becca's younger, irresponsible sister, Izzy, announces that she is pregnant: there will now be a new child. 'Rabbit Hole' tells a simple yet rich story about a family overcoming the death of their child and includes comedy as well as tragedy.

Sunday, March 17, will see Skibbereen Theatre Society perform 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane' by Martin McDonagh.

'The Beauty Queen of Leenane' tells the darkly comic tale of Maureen Folan, a lonely woman in her early forties, and Mag, her manipulative and ageing mother. Mag's interference in her daughter's first and possibly final chance of a loving relationship sets in motion a train of events that lead inexorably towards the play's inevitable denouement.

Gorey Little Theatre Group thread the boards on Monday, March 18, with 'Bloomsday' by Steven Dietz.

In the play Robert returns to Ireland after 35 years to meet Cait, the woman who, in one day, captured his heart during a James Joyce Ulysses walking tour. Dancing backwards through time, the older couple retrace their steps to look with hindsight at their younger selves. On that fateful day 35 years before, they found themselves at a fork in the road and now must reflect on the aftermath of the youthful decisions they made. This 'time travel' story explores their journey with love, wit, revelation and resignation.

On Tuesday, March 19, Kilmuckridge Drama Group present 'The Righteous are Bold' by Frank Carney.

The play opens with the abrupt return of Nora Geraty from war-torn England, to her home on Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo. Her father, mother and brother are troubled that she has been incommunicado for some months. Ominously, they receive notice of Nora's homecoming from an English priest who warns that she has been unwell. It becomes apparent that the nature of her illness is not physical; the struggle to cure Nora instigates a battle between pre-Christian, Christian and scientific belief systems.

Kilrush Drama Group take to the stage on Wednesday, March 20, with 'The Steward of Christendom' by Sebastian Barry.

The play is about one man's journey to true freedom, many years after he rejected the freedom granted to the Irish Free State. Now a patient in a county home, Thomas Dunne, the last Chief Superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police in 1922, looks back on his life as he tries to keep his memories and ghosts at bay.

On Thursday, March 21, Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group present 'Moonglow' by Kim Carney.

The story centres around Maxine, a feisty, bitter Alzheimer's victim, who doesn't want to move into a nursing facility. But when she meets Joe, a widower who shares her love for dance, her outlook begins to change. Although the two clash when lucid, their hazy memories overlap, and they begin an affair that rejuvenates and fulfils them. But can these lovers - played simultaneously by an elderly twosome and a young, vivacious couple - stay together despite their families' wishes and their fading vitality?

On Friday, March 22, Bridge Drama Group will take to the stage with its production of 'Brighton Beach Memoirs' by Neil Simon.

Set in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York in September 1937 during The Great Depression, this coming-of-age comedy focuses on Eugene Morris Jerome, a Polish-Jewish American teenager who experiences puberty, sexual awakening, and a search for identity as he tries to deal with his family, including his older brother Stanley, his parents Kate and Jack, Kate's sister Blanche, and her two daughters, Nora and Laurie, who come to live there after their father's death.

The final play of the festival will be performed by the Lislea Dramatic Players on Saturday, March 23. The play 'Castles in the Air' by Martin Lynch tells how Mary Fullerton has been deserted by her drunken husband, and lives in a tower block, subsisting on Valium and Carlsberg Special. Her son Eddy is a joyrider, and only her daughter Pauline has the buoyancy to survive and save her family, but if she stays to do so she must abandon her own future.

The plays will start at 8 p.m. each night with the exception of March 23, the final night, when it will start at 7.30 p.m.

Patron tickets for the festival are available from any of the festival committee, from Mark Kennedy in Hall's Shop, Main Street, Carnew; Carnew Training & Development Centre and from Candy's, Carnew. Purchasing a patron ticket enables you to see all nine of the plays for just €45.

Gorey Guardian