Kildare thespians dominate upcoming All-Ireland festival

A quarter of all plays taking part in the All-Ireland Drama Finals in May will be from Kildare groups.

A quarter of all plays taking part in the All-Ireland Drama Finals in May will be from Kildare groups.

Prosperous Drama Society, Bradan Players from Leixlip and Silken Thomas Players have all qualified. All three have taken part in drama festivals all over the country and have, along the way, won numerous awards for acting, lighting, set design and directing.

Bradan Players qualified with their performance of ‘Tom and Viv’, which tells the story of the relationship between the American poet, T. S. Eliot, and his first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot. The group won drama festivals in both Enniskillen and Ballyshannon in order to qualify and in the process winning several acting, directing and production awards.

It is the fourth year in a row that Bradan Players has successfully qualified for the All-Ireland Three Act Finals.

“We are thrilled to have qualified for the final with this production, which was extremely well received on the festival circuit,” the play’s director George Hogan explained.

“I am particularly delighted that we have the opportunity, once again, to represent Leixlip and Kildare in an All-Ireland final.

“It would be nice to do an unprecedented double and go all the way and win the title to add to the one act title that we currently hold.”

The cast for ‘Tom and Viv’ features local actors Jenny Ní Lúcáis, Colin Walsh, Maeve Kerrigan, Aidan Mannion, Joanne Logue, Shaun Nugent, Joe Bergin and Rob Webster  and is directed by George Hogan.

Silken Thomas Players qualified having won four out of seven qualifying festivals in Newtownstewart, Kildare, Holycross and Strabane.

They finished second in three more - Gorey, Castleblayney and Ballyshannon, picking up over 40 awards for acting, set design, lighting and directing.

“Angels in America” is set against the backdrop of the aids epidemic during the Reaganite years in New York City and is a sweeping examination of some of the most basic human emotions about love and death, loyalty and betrayal.

In preparation for the finals, Silken Thomas will present Angels in America by Tony Kushner in The Moat Theatre, Naas on April 26 and 27.

The cast is made up of Prior Walter (Colin Malone), Louis (Conor O’Connell), Harper Pitt (Trisha Lowry), Joe Pitt (James Murphy), Roy Cohn (Pat Halligan), Belize (Dean Gorry), Hannah Pitt (Jo Doyle), The Rabbi (Connie Broderick), a lawyer (Jonathan Judge), an eccentric real estate agent (Noreen Quinlivan) and a registered nurse (Ciaran Farrell).

Meanwhile Prosperous Dramatic Society has swept the boards at festivals throughout the country. They were runners up in Kildare and, last Wednesday, March 30, in Newry. But they recorded wins at Mountmellick, Roscommon, Claregalway, Castleblayney and Rathangan.

As a result they head into the finals in first place on points.

Their play was the European Premiere of David Mamet’s political satire, which features the American President Charles Smith who is hoping to get re-elected, except that his chances are very grim.

The President, played by Robert Massey, is a high-strung version of Homer Simpson. He is joined in his endeavours by his advisor Archie, played by Fergal Crehan and his lesbian speechwriter Bernstein, Zita McGarry Kelly.

He comes up with a plot to extort $200 million from the turkey producers of America, represented by Malcolm Taylor.

But he hasn’t figured on the intervention of Chief Dwight Grackle of the Micmac nation, played by Brian Moran.

Meanwhile Droichead Nua Players, with their production of Kings of the Kilburn Road have made it to the ‘confined’ section of the All Ireland finals which take place this weekend in Wexford.