Irish classics to contemporary drama featuring at this year’s West Cork Drama Festival

Opening in Rossmore theatre on Saturday March 9, the 61st  West Cork Drama Festival runs until Saturday, March 16 with eight participating plays staged. Dark comedies (The Lonesome West), Irish Classics (Dancing at Lughnasa), Dark Tragedy (On Raftery’s Hill), Hilarious Romps (Out of Order), Contemporary Drama (The Ferryman, Stolen Child) and Classical Drama (Antigone, The Trojan Women) all feature in this year’s impressive line-out. 

Wayside players from Blackwater, Co. Wexford open the festival on Saturday, March 9 with Marina Carr’s powerful dark tragedy ‘On Raftery’s Hill’, a tale about Red Raftery and his family who lives by his own rules. While dark and disturbing, comical aspects run through this play which has been described as ‘theatrical writing of the highest order’. Recommended for adult viewing only.

Holycross-Ballycahill Drama Group from Tipperary take to the stage on Sunday, March 10 with Friel’s classic ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’. This multi award-winning tender play about the five Mundy sisters is set in 1930s Donegal. The play revolves around one character’s (Michael) reminiscences of a summer in his aunts’ cottage as a seven-year-old and is punctuated with a memorable dance sequence. A film version of the play starring Meryl Streep was released in 1998.

On Monday, March 11, Brideview Drama from Tallow Co Waterford present ‘Antigone’ by Sophocles and adapted by Don Taylor. This is one of Sophocles’ trilogy ‘The Theban Plays’, a powerful tragedy, which dramatises the clash between the family and the city and the tragic consequences that follow.

Tuesday, March 12 sees the local Kilmeen Drama Group perform the popular Martin McDonough play ‘The Lonesome West’. This macabrely funny play is the third of his well-known Leenane trilogy. In the wild west of Ireland, two brothers Coleman and Valene are at loggerheads, fighting over unresolved childhood grievances (and crisps), following their father’s death.

On Wednesday. March 13, Memory Lane Theatre Group from Lixnaw, Co Kerry (pictured) stage fellow county playwright Brendan Kennelly’s adaptation of the Euripides 2,400-year-old tragedy ‘The Trojan Women’. A play exploring the loss incurred from war and the impact of war on womanhood. It was adapted by Kennelly when the Balkan war was ongoing and resonates now with events in Gaza and the Ukraine.

Ballyduff Drama group from west Waterford present Jez Butterworth’s ‘The Ferryman’ on Thursday, March 14. A play about the ‘disappeared’ of the Troubles and the disturbing impact of the silence that surrounds these. At a nuanced level, it examines the differences between the Irish people’s idea of themselves and the English people’s idea of them and also draws parallels with Greek mythology. A contemporary play likely to evoke much discussion amongst theatregoers.  

Friday, March 15 sees Wexford’s Ballycogley Players take to the stage with their production of the popular Ray Cooney comedy ‘Out of Order’. When a government junior minister, plans to spend the evening with one of the opposition’s secretaries, things go disastrously wrong leading to a hilarious chain of events. Lies, deceit and disguises leads to a whirlpool of mayhem. A night of laughter looks promised for theatregoers.

Closing the festival on Saturday, March 16 is the production of ‘Stolen Child’ by Yvonne Quinn and Bairbre ní Chaoimh presented by Clann Machua Drama Group from Kiltimagh Co. Mayo. An emotive yet humorous play, set in the 1990s, about a woman adopted at birth who searches for her mother with the aid of a quirky private detective and his unorthodox ways. This search opens more than just her family history, as the care of mothers and children in the past is laid bare.

Paddy Farrelly, manager of the Ramor Theatre, Virginia, Co. Cavan is the adjudicator for the festival. Paddy holds a MA in Theatre Studies from UCD and has worked in a variety of acting, direction and production roles. In 2013 he directed ‘Trad’ by Mark Doherty for Millrace Drama Group, which won the Confined finals that year. The nightly adjudications are always enjoyed for their informed perspective on everything from the set design, lighting and sound as well as the direction and acting of the production just watched.

This year the Confined finals take place in Mountmellick, Co Laois from April 18-26, while the Open finals take place as usual in Athlone from April 27 to May 5.

All plays start sharp at 8pm and patrons can’t be admitted after the play commences. Nightly tickets (€15) and season tickets ((€100) can be booked online from February 26 at The festival committee would like to thank all the festival sponsors and supporters for their continued and valued support.

WCP Staff

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