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East Clare Drama Festival takes a bow

 

Marie Bugler from the Sliabh Aughty Drama Group backstage at Scariff Community College during the opening night of this year’s Clare Drama Festival. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

IN opening the 66th Clare Drama Festival, Deputy Michael McNamara took his cue from Shakespeare as he introduced the opening act with, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.”

“I have been lucky to have been afforded many parts on and before this stage – actor, drama festival goer, even model on one occasion to raise funds for the national school but it’s a particular privilege to be here tonight as a local TD and to be able to pay tribute to the generations of dedicated festival committee members and supporters who have played their part in ensuring that the Clare Drama Festival is now considered one of the foremost showpieces of the amateur drama movement in Ireland,” Deputy McNamara recalled.

He said the annual event could not be such a success without the commitment of all the drama groups from the county and elsewhere that come to East Clare each year to stage their work.

The Scariff TD said participation in the production of a play or in organising a drama festival brings people together, they get to know each other better, and the activity contributes to personal development and to the greater good.

“There is also the value of the drama itself for both actor and audience. The playwright helps us understand the society in which we live and other societies, not just in Ireland but throughout the world,” he said.

“As a child and later in my teens, I attended many plays at the festival and for the first time saw the work of some of the outstanding playwrights from Ireland, the United States and Europe – Brian Friel, John B Keane, Martin McDonough, Arthur Millar, Sam Shepherd, Lorca and the Swiss playwright Max Frisch whose dark comedy The Fire Raisers is a metaphor for fascism and shows how “normal” citizens can be taken in by evil,” he said.

He added that the common thread running through all the great plays is that although societies and cultures differ, people are people all over the world with the same needs and desires, the good and the bad, the sacred and profane, the entire spectrum of the human condition laid bare with all its fine qualities and imperfections.

Deputy McNamara also recalled the long and distinguished tradition of producing plays in the Scariff area.

“The Vocational Players guided by the indefatigable Pádraig Vaughan are still fondly remembered. Then the baton passed to the inspirational leadership of Maud Nash who took drama from East Clare to a new level with a number of groups, especially the Slieve Aughty Drama Group.

“The long history of producing plays reaped a rich reward in 1993 when Scariff Drama Group scooped the Esso Trophy at the All-Ireland Finals in Athlone. They had reached the top under the direction of Ted Harrington with an outstanding production of Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward, it was a sweet moment to savour,” he concluded.

The festival showcased the performances of the Sliabh Aughty Drama Group; Corofin Dramatic Society; Skibbereen Theatre Society; Brideview Drama Group; Yellow Moon Theatre Company; Garrymore Drama Group and Conna Drama Group.

Clare Drama Festival continues on Thursday when Mullagh Entire Drama Group present Fortunes and Misfortunes by Jimmy Murphy; Kilmeen Drama Group perform The Playboy of the Western World by JM Synge on Friday and closing the festival is the Bradán Players with their production of How I Learned To Drive by Paula Vogel on Saturday.

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