Silken Thomas Players unhappy with All-Ireland adjudication

Silken Thomas director Sean Judge was unhappy with the adjudication.
Sean Judge, the director of the play by Silken Thomas players, Mercury Fur, which came second in the All-Ireland Drama Festival finals at the weekend, has criticised the adjudicator of the festival, saying “he hadn’t done his homework”. The adjudicator, Tony Rushforth, has denied this.

Sean Judge, the director of the play by Silken Thomas players, Mercury Fur, which came second in the All-Ireland Drama Festival finals at the weekend, has criticised the adjudicator of the festival, saying “he hadn’t done his homework”.

The adjudicator, Tony Rushforth, has denied this.

Mercury Fur won all eight out of the eight festivals it entered on the way to the All Ireland Festival, as well as winning numerous other awards for acting, direction and production.

But following their performance of the play in Athlone last Friday, the group were baffled to get a less enthusiastic adjudication from Tony Rushforth, the adjudicator, than they had been expecting.

While he praised much about the play such as its physicality, the set, the costumes, the lighting and several individual performances, he felt that the production needed more what he called “light and shade” and more subtlety was required.

This angered the group and in a private meeting afterwards with Mr. Rushforth, they outlined their views to him.

Mr. Judge says that the adjudicator defended himself.

“Mercury Fur is the most successful production in the history of amateur drama,” Mr. Judge told the Leinster Leader.

“We won eight out of eight festivals, eight best director awards, eight best actor awards. We’ve won 60 different accolades in total throughout the course of the run of this play and we’re a bit confused by the adjudication, to say the least,” he explained.

“He obviously had never adjudicated at a play from the ‘In yer face’ genre of theatre before. He’s not aware of how it works.”

Silken Thomas didn’t perform the original version of the play. “We did a 2012 version of the play. We had been in contact with the playwright on a number of occasions in relation to it.”

And on the basis of Mr. Rushforth’s comments on the play, he believes the adjudicator hadn’t read the 2012 version, which is different from the original.

And he felt that Mr. Rushforth shouldn’t have taken on the role of adjudicator if he wasn’t familiar with the ‘In yer face’ genre of theatre.

The Leinster Leader contacted Mr. Rushforth at his home in England but he wouldn’t be drawn into an argument.

“I met him (Mr. Judge) and the cast members afterwards and I understand he was injured and hurt.

“But I have to do my job and I do it as objectively and honestly as I possibly can.

“I do a lot of work, a lot of homework beforehand and I do the best I can.”

- Conor McHugh