Production Archive

Rediscovering Friel, 2011

Fri 15 & Sat 16 July 2011

Rehearsed play readings of two little performed works by Brian Friel, both written in the 1970s. Presented during the 2011 Earagail Arts Festival.

Volunteers

Director: Frankie McCafferty

Cast:
Knox – Gerard McSorley
Wilson – David Grant
Smiler – Jack Quinn
George – Miche Doherty
Desmond – Nick Lee
Butt – Dessie Gallagher
Keeney – Charlie Bonner
Pine – Partrick McBrearty

Volunteers was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin on 5 March 1975.

A group of political prisoners volunteer to excavate an archaeological site in a contemporary Irish city centre. For five months they have been excavating ‘from early Viking down to late Georgian — in other words over a period of approximately a thousand years’. On the last day of their dig, before the builders move in, they learn that they have been sentenced to death by their fellow internees for treason, their defection in volunteering.

“In Volunteers he has found a form that allows his gifts a freer expression. Behind the writing there is an unrelenting despair at what man has made of man, but its expression . . . is by turns ironic, vicious, farcical, pathetic.” Seamus Heaney, Preoccupations.

The Gentle Island

Directed by David Grant

Manus – Gerard McSorley
Philly – Frankie McCafferty
Joe – Charlie Bonner
Sarah – Anne Gallagher
Shane – Nick Lee
Peter Quinn – Miche Doherty
Mary – Maura Logue
Neil – Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride
Con – Kieran Kelly
Anna – Aoife Boyce
Tom – Patrick McBrearty
Bosco – John Ruddy
Paddy – Eddie Flanagan
Martin – Cormac Callaghan

The Gentle Island was first performed at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin on 30 November 1971.

“Welcome to windswept Inishkeen – the ‘gentle island’ or the ‘island of lament’. These two translations of the name hint at the contrasting facets of Manus, the island’s self-styled ‘king’, whose latent savagery cannot be disguised beneath a veil of story-telling and lore. When outsiders visit the island, the shallowness of this mythology is exposed, as Manus exacts a terrible revenge.

“The production history of the play reveals a fascinating genealogy. First produced in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre in 1971, long before Ireland came fully to embrace the shock of the new, the representation of gay characters on stage was received more with bewilderment than shock. But it proved to be a revelation for one young theatre-goer, the playwright Frank McGuinness, who twenty years later directed a memorable revival of the play on the Abbey’s Peacock Stage as the Celtic Tiger was being weaned. The fleeting presence of the departing islanders was provided by the last remaining members of the ‘permanent’ Abbey company, whose days, like those of their characters, were numbered. And now, after another twenty years, amid the echoes of the tiger’s fading roar, The Gentle Island is coming home to Donegal.

“This is a play, then, that reinvents itself for each generation. As we renegotiate the relationship between old and new values, the play’s seething tensions takes on new meaning. It makes us reassess assumptions about progress and tradition, hurtling us along with its explosive narrative force.”

David Grant, Director

Renouncing Chance by Colin Davidson used by kind permission of the artist.

 

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Echoes of Time, 2011

Written and directed by Kieran Kelly

Jan/Feb 2011

Ever wondered why Letterkenny has a Glencar Scotch and a Glencar Irish? Or why there’s a Castle Street but no castle? And we bet you’ll be surprised when you find out just how old ‘Old Town’ really is!

Echoes of Time offered a bite sized guide to the origins of Letterkenny.

In just 30 minutes Danny the Townie and his ancestors give you an overview of what effect the Ulster Plantation had on the development of the town and how its influence continues to this day in our accents and place names. Each performance was followed by an optional question and answer session. The show was recommended for family audiences and anyone interested in the history of Letterkenny.

Written and directed by Kieran Kelly, The Echoes of Time was a Living History schools project supported by PEACE III Programme managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by Donegal County Council.

The project was developed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Letterkenny in 2011.

In addition to the play a cd recording of the famous song Letterkenny Town was produced as well as an educational booklet giving an overview of the impact that the Ulster Plantation had in forming Letterkenny and how traces of that history can still be found in present day Letterkenny such as in place names and even accents.

Cast

Danny Buchanan – Daniel Conaghan
Dad/Robert Buchanan – Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhrighde
Millie Buchanan – Nora Kavanagh

Creative Team

Writer/Director – Kieran Kelly
Set Design – Guy Barriscale
Costume Design – Joanne Quigley
Stage Manager – Paul Rooney
Producer – Martina Murphy

Tour Dates 2011

Scoil Colmcille, Letterkenny
Mon 31 January

Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, Letterkenny
Tues 1 February

Ballyraine National School, Letterkenny
Wed 2 February

Moyle National School, Newtowncunningham
Wed 2 February

Scoil Naomh Fiachra, Illistrin, Letterkenny
Thur 3 February

St Eunan’s National School, Raphoe
Fri 4 February

Glenswilly National School, Letterkenny
Mon 7 February

Termon National School, Termon
Tues 8 February

St Mary’s Primary School, Strabane
Wed 9 February

Lurgybrack National School, Letterkenny
Thur 10 February

St Patrick’s National School, Drumkeen
Thur 10 February

Woodlands National School, Letterkenny
Fri 11 February

An Grianán Theatre
Sat 4 June

Project supported by PEACE III Programme managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by Donegal County Council

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The Little John Nee Residency, 2010-2011

A six month residency programme funded by the PEACE III Programme managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by Donegal County Council

Little John Nee is a Donegal artist with a huge back catalogue of work.  As a Donegal artist his work is very much grounded in the historical and contemporary issues which we face in this North West corner of the island, and his work shows a keen understanding of the particular issues that affect the border dwelling communities.

This six month residency programme featured a retrospective of his work including talks, master classes, workshops, exhibitions and a publication. At the heart of the residency was three plays from Nee’s extensive back catalogue:

The Derry Boat

October 2010

Little John Nee is an unlikely gangster as he makes his entrance in The Derry Boat. Cued by a dissonant crunchy electric guitar chord, Nee, as Shugie O’Donnell, crashes through the door of a corrugated metal shack in a rumpled black suit and tiny sunglasses, waving a gun and toting a large suitcase. This sets the stage for an unlikely roller-coaster ride that tells the funny but poignant story of the four generations of migration between Ireland and Scotland. Originally commissioned by the Earagail Arts Festival in 1998.

The Mental

January 2011

Originally commissioned by the Axis Theatre Ballymun and the HSE in Donegal this play focuses on the rich history of St Conal’s Hospital in Letterkenny. The story centres on misfit Joe Boyle as he struggles to find a safe place in the world, a journey that lead will him down a road of frustration, isolation, and ultimately breakdown.

Rural Electric

March 2011

Set in 1959, Rural Electric is the story of one of the last parishes in Donegal to get the “electric”, and as such reveals the epic achievements of the brave E.S.B. workers as they battle the elements putting up poles and stretching cable across inhospitable hills. A host of characters step forward from the mists of time to inhabit this fictional parish in a truly inventive one man show that combines physical theatre, comedy, original music and even a car chase! Rural Electric was originally commissioned for the 2004 Earagail Arts Festival through the Donegal County Council Public Art programme.

Little John Nee is a creative artist with a singular combination of skills. He is an accomplished writer, actor, storyteller and musician. He has a unique voice, which speaks very clearly about the experience of this corner of our island. He has an excellent ear for the dialects and idioms of speech which are resonant here. However his stories and plays are not parochial, they are filled with humanity, humour and pathos and have a universal appeal.

It has been a real pleasure to work closely with John on this residency and I am extremely proud of the work that he has achieved on the theatre’s behalf. A central plank of the programming strategy at An Grianán Theatre since it opened has been to offer a platform to the artists of Donegal and to also to showcase those talents throughout the country. We have successfully achieved this through numerous projects including our own touring productions.

This opportunity arose through Peace III, which was looking for arts projects which would address issues of sectarianism, racism, plus social and geographical isolation in the border communities. I could not think of an artist whose work could more suitably fill that brief. The three plays we selected, which are published here, are particularly relevant to the themes of Peace III.

The residency also created the opportunity for John to share his skills as a creative artist with community groups and other arts practitioners. The workshop programme focused on issues relating to Peace III and did so in a warm and interactive manner making the workshops easily accessible for seniors groups, young people and members of the new communities.

Audiences at performances have been very appreciative and the feedback from the community groups who participated in workshops has been warm and enthusiastic. I am confident that the residency has captured the hearts and minds of the community both here in Donegal and in Derry and Tyrone and has left a lasting legacy of enjoyment and understanding for all those involved.

Patricia McBride
Director, An Grianán Theatre

Workshop Programme

During each two month period of the residency we presented a workshop programme around each play exploring its themes, undertaking performances and working closely with the target groups.

The theme of the workshop programme was “From Inspiration to Realisation” and it aimed o create a short effective workshop, linked to performance, deepening the participant’s understanding of the elements that go into creating theatre as well as creating a doorway to access their own creativity. This is a gentle exploration of creativity with an emphasis on beauty and having fun and how this affects our well-being.

The workshop programme was specifically targeted at senior citizen and people with difficulties assimilating in a modern Ireland such as HSE clients. A secondary aim of this project was to showcase the strength of the dramatic tradition which is produced in Donegal, and to create a cross border showcase for one of Donegal’s leading artists.

From young immigrant men to Traveller women, secondary school teenagers to university students, HSE clients, older peoples groups and theatre creatives: stories shared are colourful, some are melancholy and others are humorous. In Little John’s hands all are precious.

Accompanying Little John as he travelled the potholed highroads and byroads of the Northwest with a ukulele and a well pressed suit jacket on his back has been a real privilege. Renowned in this corner of the island for our hospitality and true to form, we were always greeted with welcoming smiles and a steaming pot of well brewed tea.

The theme, delivery style and format of the workshops undertaken by Little John as part of his residency have varied greatly. This is a measure of the versatile artist he is, adaptable in his approach working with diverse community groups. Though the profile of the group changes from session to session, the constant is Little John’s talent of seeing each for who they are, settling down with them and creating a space where an openness and gentleness of story sharing prevails. “It does your heart good,” whispered one lady to me as she drained her cup and wiped the tears of laughter from her face.

Workshops linked with the three performances, The Derry Boat, The Mental and Rural Electric, have an emphasis on our shared past and how this influences our cultural identity and sense of belonging. Memories of what times were like for those who travelled on the Derry Boat, who lived and raised families in Scotland, who left families behind in Ireland are recounted from first and second hand experiences by workshop participants.

And of those for whom the Derry Boat itself was not a part of their past, inside the yellow brick walls of St Conals a factor in their present or of those for whom the flame went out when electricity came in; the universal theme of needing to belong is central to all. After seeing The Mental, an elderly gentleman came to me and said: “Thank John for me. It is important that we all see this show.” Audiences and workshop participants nod in agreement, laugh in recognition and sigh in the knowledge of a shared understanding. “I have three words,” one woman commented: “Light, informative and beauty.”

“Everyone has a story. I’ll share mine and then maybe you might like to share yours” LJN

Kate Brown
Residency Education and Outreach Programme Director
February 2011

Publication

As part of the residency we published ‘A Donegal Trilogy’, a book featuring the scripts of the three plays in the residency programme. This marked the first time that Nee’s work had been published.

 

Residency Credits

Producer: Patricia McBride

Publication Editor: Daithí Ramsay
Publication Assistant Editor: Nicola Burns

“A World Apart” Exhibition Curators: Judith McCarthy, Caroline Carr, Niamh Brennan

Education and Outreach Programme: Kate Browne

Photography: Paul McGuckin

Production Manager: Niall Cranney

Musicians: Laura Sheeran, Nuala Ni Chanainn and Guy Barriscale

Stage Manager: Annemarie Langan

Lighting Designs: Niall Cranney

Technical Assistants: Phil Ruddock and Paul Kavanagh

Marketing, P.R. and Poster Designs: Daithí Ramsay and Nicola Burns

Publication Design: Carton LeVert

Administration: Martina Murphy, Helene McMenamin and Laura Ferry

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The Snow Queen, 2009

Friday 4 to Sat 20 December 2009
An Grianán Productions in assoc’ with Fidget Feet Performance Co

Commissioned by An Grianán for our tenth anniversary. This spectacular show featured dazzling aerial acrobatics, wonderful theatrics, great humour and subtle electro music.

An exciting and beautifully crafted version of The Snow Queen, where the Blizzard Circus along side their boss the Snow Queen bring you into a world of adventure and delights, a magic mirror is smashed into a thousand pieces, a young boy called Kay is kidnapped and the chase is on by his best friend Gerda to save him before his heart is frozen forever.

Cast

Snow Queen: Vikki Mc Mannus
Gerda: Chantal Mc Cormick
Kay,Tommy Trumpet: Stephen O Rourke
Raven, Max Muscle: Lee Clayden
Granny, Bendy Brenda & Miss Flatulata: Helen Ashton
Reindeer boy: Jym Daly

Creative Team

Devised by Fidget Feet
Written By Jym Daly and Gavin Marshal
Director: Gavin Marshal
Choreographer: Chantal Mc Cormick
Additional dance Choreography: Lee Clayden
Aerial Choreography: Jonothan Campbell
Composer & Songs: Jym Daly
Lighting designer/production manager: Niall Cranny
Costume and Set designer: Paul Shriek
Aerial design and technican: Jonothan Campbell
Aerial Technican assistant: Lee Clayden
Flying Harnesses By Jonathan Graham & Jonothan Campbell

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The Home Place, 2009

By Brian Friel
Tuesday 3 to Saturday 7 February 2009

Directed by Mick Gordon

An Grianán Productions in association with the Lyric Theatre, Belfast as part of An Grianán’s 10th Anniversary celebration and in tribute to Brian Friel in his 80th year.

The play opened at An Grianán before transferring to the Lyric in Belfast. It was also toured to the Town Hall Theatre, Galway; Cork Opera House; Market Place Theatre, Armagh and Strule Arts Centre, Omagh.

It’s the Summer of 1878, a time of unrest and the early days of the Home Rule movement. The fateful events of The Home Place take place over a single day at the Lodge in Ballybeg, the Donegal home of the Gores, a planter family.

The Gores, father and son, are both in love with Margaret, their househeeper. All three pursue a hopeful dream of freedom from their history and heritage and the ‘awful burden’ of the big house. The situation quickly unravels, accelerated by Gore’s cousin Richard, who unwittingly insults and inflames the local population during an already volatile time.

Friel’s brilliantly crafted drama continues the historical probing which in Translations examined the tragic effect of a military operation to map the physical contours of the Irish landscape. In this, his latest play, a scientific exercise to determine the Irish character unleashes the tragedy, which revolves around the ideas of national identity, love and belonging.

Cast

Ian McElhinney
Conleth Hill
Aislin McGuckin
Stuart Graham
Lalor Roddy
Kyle Riley
Lisa Lambe
Miche Doherty
Julia Dearden
Pepe Roche

Children

(Letterkenny and Omagh performances)
Cormac Callaghan
Stephanie Greenan
Aislinn Nic Ghiolla Bhain
Thomas Vaughan

Directed by Mick Gordon
Designed by Ferdia Murphy
Costume Design by Sinead Cuthbert
Lighting Design by Mark Howland

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2008

By William Shakespeare
Directed by David Grant
An Grianán Theatre in association with Earagail Arts Festival

July 2008

This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was produced in association with and financially supported by the Earagail Arts Festival and Donegal County Council. Like the production of The O Neill which we produced for the 2007 Earagail Arts Festival, A Midsummer Night’s Dream included a large cast of talented community actors, under the artistic direction of David Grant.

Cast

Theseus: Christian Carbin
Hippolyta: Elaine Gillespie
Hermia: Megan Armitage
Helena: Ciara Henry
Lysander: James Gavigan
Demetrius: Daniel Conaghan
Quince/Egeus: Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhrigde
Snug: Jason Matthewson
Snout: Aoife Boyce
Bottom: Kieran Kelly
Flute: Daniel Nelis
Starveling: Hugo McConnell
Titania: Anne Gallagher
Oberon: Diarmuid O Gallchoir
Peaseblossom & fairy: Riana Lynch
Cobweb: Karen Quinn
Moth: Christina Martin
Mustardseed: Portia Woods
Puck/Philostrate: Patrick McBrearty
Indian Changeling: Tadhg Brennan

Creative Team

Director: David Grant
Associate Director: Matt Jennings
Production Manager & Lighting Designer: Niall Cranney
Set Construction: Lenny Nelson
Stage Manager: Maeve Sweeney
Costume Designer: Joanne Quigley
Costume Assistant: Dorothy Mottram
Musical Director: Lorna McLaughlin
Musicians: Karen McLaughlin, Joleen McLaughlin, Rohan Armstrong
Producer: Martina Murphy

Director’s Programme Note

Shakespeare is the world’s playwright: when I was at the Dublin Theatre Festival during the city’s year as European Cultural Capital in 1991 we welcomed no less than four Shakespeare productions from as far afield as Romania, Germany and Japan. In each case, the plays were reinvented in the language of the visiting company with an assurance that almost made us forget that they had originally been written in English. But in Ireland, not least because we have enjoyed such a special facility with English, Shakespeare has always seemed peculiarly alien. The number of productions at the Abbey Theatre, for instance, in a hundred years can be counted on the fingers of two hands.

At the heart of this discomfort is the sense that although the language, despite its archaic usages, is familiar, it is hard for us
in Ireland to hear the words in a recognisable way. Although many memorable film adaptations (notably Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet) have challenged the assumption that Shakespeare must be delivered with a clipped “received pronounciation”, we are still all too prone to unease when as audiences our expectations of RSC accents are denied. And yet, research (and the very rhymes and rhythms of the plays themselves) suggests that Shakespeare would have spoken with the broader vowel sounds associated with the today’s Northern Irish voice.

So when I got the chance to work with the many fine actors in the current cast, many of whom I knew already from The O’Neill last year, and we decided that Shakespeare was the ideal vehicle for their talents, I was adamant that this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream should be in a Donegal voice. In making this choice, we follow the lead of the Yorkshire-based Northern Broadsides Theatre Company, who are famous for bringing the flavours of northern English to the language of the Bard. But what we have found as we have experimented with the range of Donegal accents available to us is just how well the language suits the local voice, which releases an added sense of immediacy in this most magical of Shakespeare’s plays.

I am a great believer in the idea that accent evokes landscape. Seamus Heaney captures this idea succinctly when he writes of the placename, “Anahorish, soft gradient of consonant, vowel-meadow”. And Niall Cranney has matched the colours and the flavours of the play’s language brilliantly with his bold set and serene lighting, complemented by Joanne Quigley’s sumptuous costumes. The Henry Girls have added further magic with their specially commissioned a DoneGal Dream! score, drawing on the musical traditions of the region while blending them with a wider European feel. Music and costumes both help define the play’s three distinct worlds of Fairyland, Theseus’ Court and the antics of the ‘Rude Mechanicals’. We hope that as you share tonight’s performance and are transported into the mysterious world of the play with its sprites and hob-goblins, its majestic poetry and its slapstick fun, you will at the same time feel entirely at home.

David Grant, Director

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The O’Neill, 2007

by Thomas Kilroy
An Grianán Productions in association with the Donegal County Council and the Earagail Arts Festival

A large scale community theatre project presented for the 2007 Earagail Arts Festival to mark the 400th anniversary of the the Flight of the Earls.

Sun 8 to Wed 11 July 2007

Directed by David Grant

2007 marked the 400th anniversary of the ‘Flight of the Earls’, an event which signalled the end of the old Gaelic order and changed Ireland forever.

A twenty-five strong community cast re-created the complex world of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, a larger than life character whose political and private life was filled with conflict and intrigue. He understood Elizabethan England equally as well as the ancient Gaelic world and found himself torn between them both.

This fast-moving, action-packed play is set before, during and after the Battle of Yellow Ford, when O’Neill and his Donegal ally Red Hugh O’Donnell combined forces to engineer the greatest military defeat of an English force in Irish history. It concludes with O’Neill’s defeat at the Battle of Kinsale which ultimately led to the last of the Gaelic lordships and the end of Gaelic Ireland.

Flight of the Earls 400 was part of the national celebration of Shared Histories organised under the aegis of the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism.

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Making History, 2007

by Brian Friel

An Grianán Productions in association with Ouroborus

Directed by Geoff Gould

Presented in 2007 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Flight of the Earls.

The play documents the experiences of the Earls of Ulster in the lead up to the battle of Kinsale and their subsequent flight from Ireland. It offers insights into the human emotions of the men and the political context in which they found themselves.  At the heart of the play is the examination of Hugh O Neill’s character and how he found himself facing the prospect of becoming a historical hero figure despite all the facts that reduced him to poverty, exile and defeat. The play also won the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best costume Design for the intricate and exquisite work of Sinead Cuthbert.

An Grianán produced the play in association with Denis Conway’s Ouroboros which previously produced Making History to critical acclaim in September 2005.

Directed by Geoff Gould, with Denis Conway (Winner Best Actor – Irish Theatre Awards 2001) as Hugh O’ Neill and Philip O’Sullivan as Lombard. Set Designer: Ferdia Murphy (Nominated Best Set Design – Irish Theatre Awards 2004), Costume Designer: Sinéad Cuthbert (Winner Best Costume Design – Irish Theatre Awards 2000 and 2005) Lighting Designer: Lizzie Powell

Cast: Denis Conway, Tony Flynn, Philip O’Sullivan, Helene Anderson and Conan Sweeney.

Tour Dates 2007

Wed 14 to Sat 17 March, Wed 11am, Thurs/Fri 11am & 8pm, Sat 8pm
An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny
Box Office 074 9120777 www.angrianan.com

Wed 21 to Sat 24 March, Wed 11am, Thurs/Fri 11am & 8pm, Sat 8pm
The Guildhall, Derry
Box Office 028 7126 4455 (Millennium Forum)
www.millenniumforum.co.uk

Mon 26 to Wed 28 March at 8pm
Riverside Theatre, Coleraine
Box Office Tel No: 028 7032 3232 www.riversidetheatre.org.uk

Thurs 29 to Sat 31 March at 8pm
Market Place Theatre, Armagh
Box Office Tel No: 028 3752 1821 www.marketplacearmagh.com

Sun 1 & Mon 2 April
Sun 8pm, Mon 10.30am & 8pm
Burnavon Arts and Cultural Centre, Cookstown
Box Office Tel No: 028 8676 9949 www.burnavon.com

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Jack and the Beanstalk, 2006

Adapted by Little John Nee

Featuring Jack the daydreaming adventurer and his exasperated Mammy, Rosa the put-upon servant girl, Scam Sharkey the con-artist and last but certainly not least Ogilvy the Giant!

An Grianán commissioned Little John Nee to write the show and you can expect a local flavour to this classic folktale as we meet ‘Jack of the Bluestacks’! Little John Nee is one of Donegal’s best loved writers and performers and is the author of transatlantic theatre hit The Derry Boat as well as the comedies Rural Electric and Limavady, My Heart’s Delight.

CAST

Jack – David Gilna

Rosa – Marie Claire Nolan

Mother – Rachael Devir

Scam – Russell Smith

Ogilvy the Giant – Declan Birney

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Production Manager – Mike Burke

Stage Manager – Amy Burke

Musical Director – Russell Smith

Set Design and Construction – Guy Barriscale

Lighting Design – Niall Cranney

Costume Design – Joanne Quigley

Producer – Patricia McBride

Marketing Manager – Daithi Ramsay

Marketing Assistant & programme illustration – Nicola Burns

Dates & Venues:

Wed 6 to Fri 22 December 2006
An Grianán Theatre

Thurs 28 December 2006 to Fri 19 January 2007
Civic Theatre, Tallaght

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The Witchin’ Well, 2006, 2005

By Joe Brennan
An Grianán Theatre Production

First produced for the Earagail Arts Festival in July 2005, The Witchin’ Well toured nationally in 2006 and was also invited to Romania for an appearance at the Romanian International Theatre Festival for Children where it was performed at the Ion Creanga Theatre in Bucharest in October 2006.

Directed by Rachael Devir
Duration 60mins
Suitable for children 5 – 10 yr olds and their families

Like all good fairy stories this one is populated by strange creatures, giants, badly behaved children and of course the evil witch. Sean and Anne are the naughty children who find themselves sucked into a strange magical world that exists under their bed. With actors, specially created puppets, magic, music and special effects, The Witchin’ Well is a bewitching story of hidden strength and courage – a treat for all the family, particularly those between the ages of 5-10, or those older children who haven’t lost their sense of magic.

“Its success lies in capturing the imagination of its young audience with a strong storyline, good performances from the Donegal cast of four, and plenty of pace and invention… an hour of absorbing and innovative entertainment.” Irish Times

The Witchin Well team at Romanian International Theatre Festival for Children where it was performed at the Ion Creanga Theatre in Bucharest in October 2006.

Cast

Rachael Diver – ANNE
Conan Sweeney (original production) / Mark Kavanagh – SEAN
Declan Birney – THE WITCH
Jack Quinn – SKEETER

Production Team

Rachel Diver – DIRECTOR
Joe Brennan – WRITER
Joanne Quigley – COSTUME DESIGN
Guy Barriscale – SET/SOUND DESIGN
Niall Cranney – LIGHTING DESIGN

PRESS REVIEW

The Witching Well
An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny
Martin McGinley
Irish Times
7 July 2005

Storyteller Joe Brennan’s commission from An Grianán theatre for this year’s Earagail Festival proved a big winner for the kids, who hardly budged as a succession of fabled characters took the stage – among them the witch, the giant, leprechauns (except these are rappers), a wise fish and a talking cat. Sean and his sister Anne are deep in the forest when they come on the Witching Well, supposedly under a spell from the wicked witch. They’re having a little row, as siblings do, and Sean unwisely wishes he didn’t have a sister. Of course, he spends the rest of the play trying to get her back.

The engaging drama unfolds on a simple but rather beautiful stage set designed by Guy Barriscale. On one level it has the ingredients of classic morality tales – Sean repenting of words spoken in haste, Skitter the cat seeking redemption for working with evil forces, and Nellie the witch finding out what happens to someone with overreaching ambition.

But its success lies in capturing the imagination of its young audience with a strong storyline, good performances from the Donegal cast of four, and plenty of pace and invention. The leprechauns, little lit-up menacing puppets who venture into the trans-Atlantic rap scene before being mesmerized by Sean’s Irish tune, are just one of the many variations on traditional material.

The Witching Well doesn’t really play it for laughs, although there are a few of those, but Joe Brennan’s long experience of diverting children pays off as he delivers an hour of absorbing and innovative entertainment.

2006 Tour Dates

Dates: Mon 22 and Tues 23 May
Times: 10:30am and 12:30pm
Venue: An Grianán Theatre
Address: Letterkenny, Co Donegal
Box Office: 0749120777
Web: www.angrianan.com

Dates: Wed 24 May
Times: 10:30am and 12:30pm
Venue: Roscommon Arts Centre
Address: Circular Road, Roscommon
Box Office: 090 6625 824
Web: n/a

Dates: Thurs 25 & Fri 26 May
Times: 10:15am and 12:15pm
Venue: Riverbank Arts Centre
Address: Newbridge, Co.Kildare
Box Office: (045) 448333
Web: http://www.riverbank.ie/

Dates: Sat 27 May
Times: 2pm and 5pm
Venue: The Dock
Address: St. Georges Tce, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim
Box Office: 071 9650828
Web: http://www.thedock.ie/

Dates: Tues 30 and Wed 31 May
Times: 10am & 12pm
Venue: Glor Irish Music Centre
Address: Causeway Link, Ennis, Co Clare
Box Office: 065 684 3103
Web: http://www.glor.ie/

Dates: Thurs 1 & Fri 2 June
Times: Thurs 11am, 1pm/ Fri 11am, 8pm
Venue: Ramor Theatre
Address: Virginia, Co Cavan
Box Office: 049 8547074
Web: http://www.ramortheatre.ie/

Dates: Tues 6 and Wed 7 June
Times: 10:30am and 12:30pm
Venue: Watergate Theatre
Address: Parliament Street, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny
Box Office: 056 7761674
Web: http://www.watergatekilkenny.com/

Dates: Thurs 8 and Fri 9 June
Times: 10:30am & 12:30pm
Venue: Backstage Theatre
Address: Farneyhoogan, Longford, Co. Longford
Box Office: 043 47888
Web: http://www.backstage.ie/

Dates: Sun 11 June
Times: 2pm and 4pm
Venue: Droichead Arts Centre
Address: Barlow House, West Street, Drogheda, Co. Louth
Box Office: 041 9833946
Web: http://droicheadartscentre.com/

Dates: Tues 13 & Wed 14 June
Times: 10 am & 12.30pm
Venue: Civic Theatre
Address: Tallaght, Dublin 24
Box Office: (01) 4627477
Web: http://www.civictheatre.ie/

Dates: Thurs 15 and Fri 16 June
Times: 10am & 12pm
Venue: axis theatre
Address: Main Street, Ballymun, Dublin 9
Box Office: 01 883 2100
Web: http://www.axis-ballymun.ie/

Dates: Sat 17 June
Times: 10:30am and 12:30pm
Venue: Mermaid Arts Centre
Address: Main Street, Bray, Co Wicklow
Box Office: 01 272 4030
Web: http://www.mermaidartscentre.ie/

Dates: Tues 20 and Wed 21 June
Times: 4PM (both days) and 7PM (Tue only)
Venue: Institute for Choreography and Dance
Address: Firkin Crane, Shandon, Cork
Box Office: 1890 200 555
Web: http://www.corkfestival.com/

Dates: Thurs 22 & Fri 23 June
Times: 11am and 7pm
Venue: Theatre Royal
Address: The Mall, Waterford
Box Office: 051 874402
Web: http://www.theatreroyalwaterford.com

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