|DLI NEWSLETTER 22 APRIL 2020|
|During the complete cessation of all drama activity, we would love you to send us some brief articles on a drama-related theme - something funny that happened during a performance, a disaster backstage..whatever takes your fancy! |
300-400 words max please, and send your stories/anecdotes to our board member, Willie O'Brien:
We'll send the best entries out in our next newsletter! ( PS If any individual is named in your story, please check that they are ok with our sharing it!)
Check out our website www.dli.ie for all details of Summer School courses, and get in touch with Summer School Director, Willie O'Brien, with your queries:
|ADJUDICATION ADCI/DLI ONE ACT FINALS 2019|
|Since the DLI Spring Magazine will not be issued because of Covid 19, our Magazine Editor, Christine O'Brien,wants to share details of Anna Walker's adjudications, given in St Mary's Theatre, Rossmore in December 2019. These would have appeared in the Spring edition. |
Christine also invites groups who were participating on the 2020 Full Length circuit, which was sadly abandoned, to send her photos of their performances for inclusion in the Autumn edition of the magazine. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Circuit Photos' on the subject line.
The Shape by Tara Maria Lovett
Bailieborough Drama Group, Confined Section
An isolated man, who has suffered a traumatic childhood experience, has been waiting for redemption for a very long time. He is seeking forgiveness, from a most unlikely source – a female television licence inspector. This is a story of an Irish man driven to breaking point by a mad mix of Catholic guilt, innocence, beating and bullying. Although dark in tone, the play, directed by Conor Sheridan, and co-directed by Liz Hanlon, has moments of gentle humour woven throughout. The humour breaks the tension, as we are drawn into a cat and mouse game.
The characters of O’Coineen, played with delicacy by Liam Daly, and Sheena, played by Fiona Clarke with an impressive energy, drew us into this surreal world. The imaginative set (created by Fergal Donnelly and Conall Daly), with its beautifully suspended bird cage and kettle, coupled with the Iconography of the Virgin Mary, enhanced the production.
The challenge to the actors is to maintain the tension of the situation throughout the play. The tension was realised occasionally, but for the full import of the potentially horrific situation to resonate, it needed further exploration. The language of the play, which was idiomatic and rich, was beautifully rendered, and we were presented with a gentle interpretation of The Shape with elements of beauty, and profound sadness.
Hue and Cry by Deirdre Kinahan
Prosperous Dramatic Society, Open Section
This play focuses on cousins Kevin (played by James Murphy), and Damian (played by Colin Malone), who meet up after twelve years. Their lives have taken very different courses, and the sudden death of a father provides the impetus for the pair to engage with the past, the present, and their emotional response to parents, death and grief. The play is laced with humour and great emotion. Karl Keogh, the director, has a wonderful eye for visual comedy, and the dancing of the Kriah, a dance of grief, was a magical moment of theatre. The set, designed by Paul Kelly and Tony Colton, had a pristine and soulless quality to it, exactly as required.
The uneasy nature of the relationship between the boys was established immediately. However, at times, significantly in the first half of the play, the uncomfortable long silences brought an unevenness to the production. In the second half of the play, all the connections worked, the humour and the pathos beautifully blended with a marvellous feeling of spontaneity.
Colin Malone as the outcast son, played a ravaged soul, fuelled by grief and guilt with a fine intensity. He found the lost young boy in this lost man. In the role of cousin Kevin, we had a contrastingly exuberant performance from James Murphy. The sensitivity and fastidiousness of this character was expertly realised. The dancing of the Kriah was an absolute delight. It was performed with excellent physicality and laser focus.
Humour and emotion are the bedrock of this play, and the actors delivered with sincerity, energy, and honesty.
27 Wagons Full of Cotton by Tennessee Williams
Roscommon Drama Group, Confined Section
Williams’ usual concern for loners, losers and misfits ground this play. In this triumvirate, there is no solace for the fragile Flora. Dominated and bullied by her husband Jake, and abused by the revenging Vicarro, her desperation brings her to the edge of madness. This is a dark and disturbing work, where we are drawn into a pressure cooker of abuse. Jake has taken what Vicarro owned and Vicarro retaliates by taking Flora. As he says, The world is built on the principle of tit for tat.
Directed by Mary Cox, and set in the Deep South, the opening sound of locusts drew us into the sweltering landscape. A sense of heat and fire underscores and permeates the play, as does a sense of brutality and violence. In this production, the raw and visceral nature needed further development to allow the tension to unfold.
Jake, played by Con Connolly, had the broad physicality of a working man and was vocally strong throughout. Flora, played by Bernie Maher, captured the childlike quality, confusion and fragility demanded by the role. The final character in this damaged trio was Silva Vicarro, whose relaxed stage presence and casual violence provided an excellent contrast to the controlling Jake.
The final moments of this production, as the raped and damaged Flora sways gently, singing Rock A Bye Baby, was a memorable moment of theatre.
A Beginner’s Guide to Madness by Barry McKinley * Second Place
Coolgreany Amateur Dramatic Society, Open Section
With seven different locations, and crazy scenarios, this is a very challenging play to realise. We are taken on a surreal journey by Crazy Gal Josephine. All is definitely not as it seems. Is she losing her mind, or are we?
Brought magically to life by director Sally Stevens, we were taken on an Absurdist Odyssey. Designed by Sally, the imaginative set served the play brilliantly, with excellent attention to detail. The soundscape by Nick Delany brought further texture to the play. Lighting by Eddie O’Brien was faultless.
Led by Crazy Gal Josephine, Éadaoin Ní Lionáin, and supported by an outstanding cast, Norah Finn, Niall Hunter, Eamonn O’Shiel, Ned Dempsey, Niall Hunter and Nicola Conroy, and supported by Denise Moules, Richard Lister and Maggie Murphy, they played with focus, fearlessness and fun. The many transitions were expertly handled, and the play moved fluidly with excellent variations of pace.
Éadaoin, as Crazy Gal Josephine, brought madness, humour and poignancy to the role. We witnessed her out -of- control descent, and felt the depths she plummeted to. The large cast were fully engaged, and brought a wonderful energy to the stage. Individually, they shone brightly in their varying personas.
We were fully engaged throughout this roller-coaster journey of mayhem and madness. An original, ambitious and imaginative production!
Notes on Falling Leaves by Ayub Khan-Din * Winners
New Ross Drama Workshop, Confined Section
This play tells the story of a son tormented by his mother’s early diagnosis with dementia, an affliction from which writer Ayub Khan-Din’s own mother suffered. In his notes on writing the play, he said I found it too upsetting. I didn’t know how to engage with her on this level. This play is about their journey. It is about love, death and family, the lost connection between a son and his mother, a woman and her mind. It is in monologue form and was directed by Peggy Hussey.
As the plot developed, the raw visceral nature of the play evolved, as did the gentle humour. Their love for each other underscores this play, and that was obvious throughout. Man was played by Edward Hayden. This was a gentle portrayal of a bitter, confused and loving son. Woman, played by Nancy Rochford Flynn gave a mesmerising performance, full of truth and honesty. She drilled down and found this demented and tormented woman. There was raw beauty in this tour de force performance.
This production had integrity. It underscored the sense of loss that permeates the play, and the world of confusion and grief was sensitively drawn.
The Aftermath by Alice Smith Lynch * Third Place
Cornmill Theatre Group, Open Section
Weddings are generally wonderful for the couple getting married, but perhaps not so much fun for the guests. In this play, two couples meet at the aftermath of a wedding. There is a level of tension between them. The band is playing, and the subtext is dancing along merrily. The production, directed by Ronan Ward, had an excellent sense of spontaneity. The pace sparkled, and the stage space was expertly negotiated. Excellent timing resulted in all of the comedy being released. The attractive and stylish set, by Loui Finnegan and Ronan Ward enhanced the production, as did the actors, who found the essence of their characters.
Gemma (Julie Ann McKiernan), grew in strength and stature, as the script demanded, and followed the arc of the character. Her husband Paul (Derek O’Reilly), captured the gormless quality, and delivered the comic lines with a gentle aplomb. Donal (Larry O’Halloran), the man who wants it all, see-sawed and flip flopped between the two women exactly as the script demanded. Annette (Taragh Donohue), an actress of immense talent, with superb comic timing and a loose physicality, commanded and demanded our attention. The subtext was slyly rendered, and this siren in red relished her role.
This slick and sleek production delivered the comedy with a stylish vigour.
Bull by Mike Bartlett* Second Place
Navan Theatre Group, Confined Section
There is a Darwinian battle for survival in this play. Bull is a play about vicious office politics. It plays out as a ritual unfolding in real time, as we witness the slow killing off of a work colleague. There is no relief. It is an uncomfortable piece of theatre, where the bad guys win. This play is a modern take on medieval torture, where an audience can witness the hanging, drawing and quartering of a human being.
Directed by Clare Atkinson, we are drawn into this ring of power and abuse. Both savagery and humour are present. The psychological mind games were well paced and well played, and subtext highlighted. However, a deeper level of savagery would have allowed the viciousness to resonate even more.
Carter (Des Lynch) and Tony (Padraig McLoughlin), played with authority and power. Katy Leech gave a strong and nuanced performance as the poisonous Isabel. The victim, Thomas, played by Patrick Fox, performed with a wonderful defeated physicality. He sweated, he crumbled, he unravelled in real time, and his devastation was palpable.
This play was well executed, and an uncomfortable watch, exactly as the author required.
Nine by Jane Shepard *Winners
The Moat Club, Naas, Open Section
This play is aggressive, provocative, heart-breaking, and tense. It is a universal story, which could happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. This is part of its chilling remit. Two unnamed women share a cell. They are the victims of appalling abuse by their captors. They form a connection, and their currency is words. They bolster and bait each other. A sense of danger and horror permeates the action.
From the opening slow reveal, the haunting soundscape (Ciara Breslin), and the first-rate lighting plan and execution (Rosanna Ryan), we were hypnotically drawn into the play. Directed with confidence, heart and imagination by Conor O’Connell, we sat in a suspended state of tension. The stage space was expertly used and visually stunning. Every element of horror was realised in an unforced manner.
The actresses, Libby Trappe and Amanda Ryan, performed with remarkable intensity. Their fractured relationship, their dynamic of hurting and caring for each other was delivered with truth and honesty, and their exhaustion and the horror of their situation resonated throughout the theatre. As did their desire to live, to escape, to be released from their appalling situation. The tension and damaged love, which is the heartbeat of the play was fully realised.
This was theatre at its best. Powerful, shocking and heartrending.
Two Sisters by Caroline Harding *Third Place
Model Box Productions, Confined Section
In this black comedy, secrets are reluctantly revealed by sisters, Anya and Sonia. Post séance, they return to their rooms to find a coffin waiting for them. They begin reflecting on their lives, the mistakes they made, and their love for daughter and niece, Elise.
A howling gale drew us into the play directed by Kevin Duignan. The relationship between the sisters was instantly established as they fought and bickered with excellent vocal energy. At times the production became quite static, and required purposeful movement. Highlighting the poverty and hardship of these women’s lives would also bring further depth to the production. The play within the play was realised with excellent comic timing, and fine characterisations.
Anya, played by Laura Wood, relished her role. She captured the fun loving and dramatic nature of this woman. Kathy Gallagher, in her role as Sonia, was an excellent foil to the dramatic sister. She was pragmatic, obviously long suffering and her performance of the seedy older gentleman was an absolute joy.
Played with a sisterly rapport, we were drawn into the lives of these two disparate and desperate women.
From Under the Bed by Seamus O’Rourke
Palace Players, Fermoy, Open Section
This play gives voice to the loneliness of two rural bachelors - two Boy-Men, who have grown up in rural and personal isolation. A seam of loneliness runs throughout, a story of two brothers sharing a house, but living apart. One night, one daring brother decides to visit the other’s bedroom…..
Aisling McGrath directed this poignant and humorous play. She captured the time warped bubble of confusion and isolation that the brothers are marinated in. There was an excellent chemistry between the actors. The humour in the play was realised, and there were many visual treats too. However, further engagement with the poignancy in the play would allow for greater variation of pace within the production. The set was imaginatively realised by Danny Buckley, who also played the role of Pat, the daring brother of Eugene (Liam Howard).
These actors played with purpose and attack, and had an excellent rapport.
Eugene dominated the acting space, ensconced in a filthy bed. Delivery of his comic lines was masterful, and the answers to his sums, puzzling. Pat, the daring brother, kept the pace lively with a sense of spontaneity. His simple wisdom and hunger for a different life was revealed with a gentle honesty.
At the conclusion of this play, we felt a desired sense of hope and a promise of new horizons for these men.
The Clock Strikes Noon by Jethro Compton
Kilmeen Drama Group, Open Section
When discussing his play, the author Compton tells us that he focussed on the story he wanted to tell - the lone farmer versus the big corporate railroad, and he stuck to that. This is a play about good versus evil, the ‘Little Man’ against the Big Corporation.
The director, Denis O’Sullivan, gave us an energised and frantic opening when we were brought instantaneously into the Wild West. The necessary rawness and desperation were evident in the opening section of this production, and the stage space was expertly negotiated by the focused cast.
At times the pace became an issue, and greater variation was required to release both the horror and the claustrophobia.
Darren Cannon in the role of Fr.Manoah, brought gravitas, wisdom and power to the role. The female presence, Lilian Davenport, played by Sharon Mawe McCarthy, captured the shrewd and pragmatic nature of this woman. Andrew O’Sullivan as Sheriff Felix Jackson, released the feral and insecure nature of his character. In the role of Benjamin Walker, Brian McCarthy brought a flaming focused intensity. Played with passion and heart, this performance dominated the play. This ‘Little Man’, who fought passionately against the Big Corporation, became heroic and powerful.
This production gave us the tension of a gunfight, and made it verbal.