Saturday 7 December 2019

A decade of Calry Drama

Calry Drama prepare to celebrate their 10th anniversary with this year's pantomime. Jessica Farry reports

As Calry Drama prepare to get back on stage with their annual pantomime 'The Return of Drackula', they are also celebrating an important milestone in the drama group's history.

This is their tenth pantomime, and they are quickly approaching their ten year anniversary. Deirdre Staunton, who is directing this year's pantomime, has been there from the very start in 2010.

She told The Sligo Champion: "This is the fifth panto that I will have directed. I was involved in lots of productions like the various hospital musicals. They asked me 10 years ago would I get involved and I said of course I would, I was living in Calry. I produced the first four pantomimes and was involved with other drama productions. I've appeared in some when someone else was producing it.

So we're going for ten years now."

The inception of Calry Drama revived what was once a vibrant scene in the Calry area. Deirdre added: "About 20-30 years ago there was a vibrant drama scene in Calry, they would have competed in nationwide competitions. I've been living in Calry for the last 15 years.

"For more than two decades, drama was dormant in Calry. So we've revived it. Some of the original drama people have come back to the group."

It has been a hugely successful decade for the drama group, who have appeared on RTE and even seen their own actors appear in films.

Deirdre added: "We've brought one or two acts on the circuit and competed.

"We were involved in an RTE production for the centenary of 1916. They were looking for a drama group who were doing WB Yeats' Cathleen ni Houlihan in 2016 and we happened to be working on it. The group were performing in Belfast at the time when they got the call from RTE. So they went to Dublin to film it.

"A number of our players have been involved in movie roles, and they've been in the Musical Society and Coolera Dramatic Society."

For the last nine years, Calry Drama's pantomime has been staged in Calry Hall. This year, it will be in Anderson's, in Sligo town.

"It's fitting that it will be in Anderson's, bringing Dracula to the banks of the Garavogue considering all the connections with Bram Stoker and Sligo. I'm sure Bram's mother witnessed many deaths from cholera and illness in that very spot.

"It's not your usual pantomime with your princess and the prince charming, there is a darker element to it. This Dracula is in search of a new bride. Several characters try to stop him because of course 'searching for a bride' means blood. It's filled with laughter, and we've made sure it's suitable for young people too."

Third class pupils from the local primary school will also be involved.

"It's a cross community thing. We've got that idea from Coolera, they have been so successful."

And Deirdre can't wait for everyone to see the final product."I love drama. I've been involved in it my whole life. It's the enjoyment of seeing it all coming together from nothing. This particular show, I've re-written the whole script to suit."

Sligo Champion