Mindful of the current economic difficulties, the Kildare Drama Festival has introduced a special “buy one ticket, get one half price” offer for this year’s festival.
“We decided to introduce it on a trial basis and see how it went,” explained committee chairperson, Ian Weir.
In the build up to this year’s event, the feedback has proven very positive.
“A lot of people have been saying it’s a very good programme. It seems to have a good balance. We have five groups that we’ve never had before - two of them are in the Open Section. The groups are very experienced and we have moved the festival back a week so the plays will be that much slicker. The groups will have had that extra time to put into practice some of the adjudicators’s suggestions,” added Ian.
Now in its 56th year, this remarkable drama festival is one of the oldest in the country. The adjudicator will be Donal Courtney.
From Thursday March 6 to Friday 14 (excluding Sunday), drama lovers will be treated to a wide variety of topics in the open and confined sections.
On Thursday 6, Craanford Drama Group stage “Thy Will be Done”. This comedy drama is set in the West of Ireland. It is the story of two brothers who have not spoken to each other for more than 40 years, the story of a failed marriage for one, and of his wife who left for the U.S.A. and gave birth to her son and never returned. Her son came to Ireland and lived and worked on the farm for 12 years.
The other brother likes to spend his days fishing and is cared for by a local woman who is a busy-body but has his interests at heart.
On Friday 7, “Curse of the Starving Class” will be performed by Ballyduff Drama Group.
The setting is a farmhouse in America inhabited by a family whose hunger extends far beyond a physical need. Relationships within the family are fragmented. The family portrayed in this play by Sam Shepard is a far cry from the typical aspiring affluent American family that we have become accustomed to. There is no easy comfort to be found in this play, the author provides us with words and silences. In the end the characters become a metaphor for the underside of American life.
On Saturday 8 , Garrymore Drama Group take on the comedy “Moll”.
Moll is a priest’s housekeeper who takes over a parish house with a “divide and conquer” strategy. When Canon Pratt and his two Curates, Father Brest and Father Loran loose their esteemed Ms Bottomly they must recruit a replacement. They select Ms Maureen Kettle, aka Moll, she wraps the Canon around her little finger, feeds him well while starving the Curates and continues this pattern. The Canon is promoted and one of the Curates takes his place. When it comes to a question of Moll’s pension more chaos ensues.
On Monday 10 Nenagh Players stage “The Outgoing Tide”. In a small cabin on the bank of Chesapeake Bay (America) 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 new drama hums with dark humour and powerful emotion.
On Tuesday 11, “Unforgiven” will be taken on by Sliabh Aughty Drama Group.
A real circus of a play. “Unforgiven” is a laugh a minute exposition of Irish rural life where nothing is ever as it seems. P.J. awaits the death of his father so that he can inherit the farm and marry his neighbour Mary. His brother Seamie holds a watching brief while Mary is blissfully unaware of P.J’s plans for her.
When the father ultimately dies another brother arrives from America and a colony of cats land among the pigeon’s in this very funny play.
On Wednesday Mar 12, Kildare’s The Moat Club have lined up “The Steward of Christendom”.
Set in the county home in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow in about 1932, “The Steward of Christendom” by Sebastian Barry tells the story of Thomas Dunne, the last chief Superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, as he looks back on his life and tries to keep his memories and ghosts at bay Through Dunne’s story loosely based on that of Sebastian’s Barry’s great grandfather the playwright re-opens a hitherto-closed chapter of Irish history.
“The Steward of Christendom” is a poignant memory play in which we meet Dunne’s three daughters and his dead son who constantly invade his memory, while the reality of his existence in a county home is brought to life in the very real presence of two attendants, Smith and Mrs O’Dea.
On Thursday 13, Holycross/Ballycahill D/G will perform “Dead Guilty”. When John Haddrell dies of a heart attack at the wheel of his car, the woman at his side is not his wife Margaret, but his lover Julia.
As she recovers from the injuries, Julia is visited by Margaret who apparently knows nothing of the affair. Events begin to take a sinister turn as Margaret begins to encroach on Julia’s life. She manages to dismiss Julia’s home help Gary and engineers an estrangement from her Counsellor, Anne
Finally left alone in the house together, Margaret and Julia are locked in deadly combat. Who will be victorious ?
The final night, Friday March 14 sees “The New Electric Ballroom” staged by Corofin Dramatic Society.
Two sisters Breda and Clare, cocoon themselves in their house in a remote Irish town. The sisters bring story-telling to a new level to avoid truly living. They obsessively relive the time when they were nearly seduced at “The New Electric Ballroom” by the singer in a touring band. Their younger sister, Ada grew up under the shadow of this story and is, as result, a woman afraid of emotion. At the age of 40, Ada yearns for what life and love have to offer. Patsy, the local fishmonger is lonesome too, but despite constantly calling, cannot get up the courage to approach Ada. In this play Enda Walsh explores the question:”is it better to live and risk being hurt than to feel nothing at all?”.