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52nd Claremorris Drama & Fringe Festival

March 14 @ 8:00 pm 10:30 pm

Claremorris Drama & Fringe Festival 2024 14th – 23rd March

Under the auspices of ADCI

Adjudicator. Irene O’Meara B.Ed, LLSM, MA Drama and Theatre Studies

Official Opening by Edward Hayden, Chairman Drama League of Ireland – Thursday, 14th @ 7.30pm

The 52nd Festival opens with a new play by Oisin Flores Sweeney, directed by Geoff Gould and starring Seamus O’Rourke and Joan Sheehy.  

On a winter’s night in Westport Tony (Seamus O’Rourke) and Sheila (Joan Sheehy) sit in their wingback chairs sipping wine as the television flickers. After 40 years of marriage they find themselves at a somewhat mundane crossroads in their lives. With their children grown and gone, and their granddaughter a little too often underfoot, they’re left in a hinterland of life, pondering what to do next. The glow from the television offers little comfort or entertainment but between them both Tony and Sheila have plenty to say, even if they don’t always say the things that really matter. Sheila dreams of travel and adventure, or even just a new lawnmower, but Tony’s penny pinching puts a damper on anything with a price tag. Instead, he wants to focus on his new diet; the one that will infamously “start on Monday”. The spark in their love life may have been extinguished over time, but their quick witted interactions are electrifying. And who’s to say that this isn’t the just the beginning of something better for them both.                                            

We welcome back The Phoenix Players from Tubbercurry after an absence of a few years, their last production in Claremorris was “The Third Policeman” by Flann O’Brien.

Animal Farm is a beast fable, in the form of a satirical allegorical novella, by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945. It tells the story of a group of anthropomorphic farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy. We look forward to seeing this Tom Walsh production.

Brideview Drama Group are based in Co.Waterford, they were formed in the late 1980s and began competing in the early 1990s. They won the Confined all-Ireland with “Moonshine” by Jim Nolan in 2005.They finished 2nd in the Open in Athlone with “Stolen Child” in 2018. They now are regulars to our festival. This years play is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles in or before 441BC. and first performed at the Festival of Dionysus of the same year. It is thought to be the second oldest surviving play of Sophocles, preceded by Ajax, which was written around the same period.

The play is about Antigone’s disobedience of Creon’s rules when she insists on burying her brother, Polyneices. Antigone, Haemon, and Eurydice die at the end of the play, to Creon’s great distress. The play addresses themes of civil disobedience, morality, loyalty, authority, and gender.

British playwright Robert Scott has written a quickfire comedy that hits the ground running. As the curtain rises, we witness the aftermath of a party that has taken place the previous night. Set in the flat of newly divorced Carter, we meet a half-naked woman named Kitty Kat and his best friend Roger. With scattered memories from the night before, Carter does his best to piece together what has happened before his domineering mother and sister arrive for an unplanned visit. Carter can’t remember exactly what happened last night, but the naked woman emerging from the bedroom is the last person he wants his Mum to find in his flat. And there’s the puzzling matter of the bag of money in his fridge. And he is not sure that his best friend Roger, sister Emma, sister’s fiancé Logan, the maids or the postman will be of any help solving the problem.

Welcome back to The Dalkey Players All-Ireland Champions 2023. Their production of Marina Carr’s “By the Bog of Cats” held our audience spellbound last March. We were not surprised when it took top honours in Athlone. This year they bring us the Arthur Miller Classic “The Crucible”

It is a dramatized and partially fictionalized story of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692/93. Miller wrote the play as an allegory for McCarthyism, when the United States government persecuted people accused of being communists
Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. A small group of girls ‘cry out’ against other people in the town, accusing them of witchcraft, in an attempt to cover up their own dabblings in the occult. Led by Abigail Williams, the girls’ accusations cause a court to be formed to investigate the alleged crimes.

Following their All-Ireland success on the One Act Finals we welcome the Ray Leonard Players back to the Full length Circuit. Their choice this year is a Play that tells the poignant and sometimes humourous story of the penitent women consigned to Magdalene laundries in the 1960’s and one nun’s attempts to ease their plight. This all-woman play is set in one of the old Mary Magdalen laundries run by an order of nuns. It tells the woeful tale of a group of ‘fallen’ women who have had their babies snatched from them at birth to be given up for adoption, and their wretched lives of drudgery earning their keep in the laundry. 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.

Agnes of God is a dramatic play by American playwright John Pielmeier, which premiered in 1979 at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. It is set at a convent, after a novice nun named Agnes unexpectedly gives birth to a dead baby and insists that the child was the result of a virgin conception. During the ensuing investigation, a psychiatrist and the Mother Superior clash as the psychiatrist is determined to get to the bottom of the events at the convent. Exploring themes of faith, maternal instinct, and how far people will go to preserve their chosen way of life, Agnes of God was critically acclaimed and had a successful 1982 Broadway run that was nominated for two Tony awards. Welcome back Director Seamus Cafferky.

Welcome back to last years Confined winners, one of the leading Groups on the Confined Circuit. Their festival choice for 2024 is “The Outgoing Tide” by Bruce Graham. In a summer cottage on Chesapeake Bay, Gunner has hatched an unorthodox plan to secure his family’s future but meets with resistance from his wife and son, who have plans of their own. As winter approaches, the three must quickly find common ground and come to an understanding—before the tide goes out. This drama hums with dark humor and powerful emotion.an h…this drama brings sensitive observation and minor-key humor to painful situations that many of us will recognize from our own families…its poignant conclusion will have resonance for many in the audience.” —The New York Times.

“Stolen Child” is one of the most popular plays to feature in the Festival over the past few years

Humorous yet moving, “Stolen Child” tells the story of a woman adopted at birth who enlists the help of a colourful private detective to search for her mother and uncover the secrets of her family history. What begins as a personal odyssey for Angela Tierney to discover the secrets of her family history soon becomes a fascinating exploration of one of the darkest chapters in the history of modern Ireland.

Welcome back to Prosperous Dramatic Society with the Arthur Miller Classic “A View from the Bridge” Arthur Miller was a giant of 20th century American theatre. With a writing career that spanned over 50 years, he will be best remembered for the classics Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, All My Sons and A View from the Bridge. Set in 1956, Brooklyn, New York. Longshoreman Eddie Carbone agrees to shelter his wife’s Italian cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, who have arrived to work illegally. But trouble begins when his orphaned niece Catherine becomes attracted to the charming Rodolpho. Familial love turns to sexual obsession and retribution ultimately leads to tragedy in Arthur Miller’s captivating tale of illicit desire.

Followed by Final adjudication and Presentation of Prizes for both Fringe and Full Length Festival