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New local production premieres at An Grianán

The Letterkenny Music and Drama Group’s Beneath An Irish Sky, a new play by local author Kieran Kelly.Letterkenny Music & Drama Group are delighted to be presenting a brand new play for their drama festival production this year. “Beneath an Irish Sky” will receive its premiere in An Grianán Theatre on Tuesday 13th February 2018 prior to competing on the demanding Drama Festival Circuit.

Inspired by archive reports and eyewitness testimonies, “Beneath An Irish Sky” is written by Kieran Kelly and looks at the events of the ‘decade of change’ from a Donegal perspective. Set in the town of Letterkenny between the years 1914-1924, it tells the fictionalised account of one man’s journey through those turbulent times, questioning what made him pick up a gun to fight for his country.

Originally written as a dramatic reading as part of An Grianán Theatre’s 1916 commemorations two years ago, the overwhelmingly positive response to that performance prompted Kieran to return to it and adapt it for a full production. “When it was first performed as a reading in 2016, it concerned an elderly man being interviewed in 1966 as he looked back on the events that affected him as a young man,” said Kieran. “However, when it came to adapt it for a full production, I found it more interesting to focus on the actual events in the past to drive the story forward rather than a piece of retrospection and so it is now set firmly between 1914 and 1924.”

Direction is in the sure hands of Pluincéad O’Fearraigh who is very much looking forward to producing a brand-new play for the Letterkenny audience and beyond. “I’m thrilled and delighted to be directing and producing this thought provoking and intriguing play by Kieran for its world premiere in An Grianán Theatre and then on the 3-act drama festival circuit. It’s not that often that you get the opportunity to direct a newly written play and I hope I do justice to the challenge of bringing the characters and the situations portrayed in this play to life for the audiences to enjoy. I cannot praise Kieran highly enough for his courage and skill in writing such a fantastic play.” Although he is keen to point out that you don’t have to be from Letterkenny to enjoy it. “While the situations and characters in the play are based in the town of Letterkenny, they are as relevant in any part of Ireland during the turbulent times in which this play is set.”

The play depicts how the central character of Brendan McDevitt (Eoin Callaghan) was affected by the seismic events unfolding around him – from World War 1, through the War of Independence and up to the Civil War – and shows how these events convinced him to gradually move from the peaceful Nationalism of the Ancient Order of Hibernians into the more militant Republicanism of Sinn Féin. This life altering decision will have far reaching implications for both himself and his family. The various decisions he makes throughout his journey are all influenced by those around him, from the attitude of his parents Barney (Kieran Kelly) and Cassie (Elaine Gillespie), the actions of his brother Michael (Loic Cech), his neighbour Mary (Laura Doherty) and the political allegiances of both the local priest Father Crawford (Michael Leddy) and the persuasive Doctor McBride (Martin Hasson).

The play opens in An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny on Tuesday 13th February 2018 at 8pm prior to touring the drama festival circuit throughout February and March. It will also be performed in the Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair on Wednesday 21st February. For more details, find the Letterkenny Music & Drama Group on Facebook and for tickets for what promises to be a dramatic night of entertainment contact An Grianán Theatre on 0749120777 or www.angrianan.com.

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Local drama and musical societies

If you are interesting in acting and performing and want to get involved with the local performing arts scene here are some of the companies who perform regularly at An Grianán. Keep an eye out on their social media channels and local media for news on auditions, classes and workshops.

DMEP (Donegal Music Education Partnership)

The DMEP offer instrumental/vocal tuition in all genres of music (classical, jazz, traditional, rock/pop) at reasonable rates to children and young adults. They have a number of different performing ensembles including the Donegal Chamber Orchestra, the Donegal Youth Orchestra, the Errigal Groove Orchestra and the Errigal Singers. Their annual family Christmas concert in.a well loved fixture in our festive schedule.

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Letterkenny Music and Drama Group

Cast and crew of the Letterkenny Music and Drama Group's production of The 39 Steps in 2015.

Cast and crew of the Letterkenny Music and Drama Group’s production of The 39 Steps in 2015.

One of Donegal’s most successful and prolific producers of theatre, they produce both musicals and dramas. Recent successes have include the multi award winning comedy The 39 Steps, Calendar Girls and Sister Act. They are also involved with the Letterkenny One Act Festival.

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Letterkenny Musical Society

Letterkenny Musical Society's The Mikado, spring 2008. Photo by Paul McGuckin.

Letterkenny Musical Society’s The Mikado, spring 2008. Photo by Paul McGuckin.

Produce one musical a year, always to an exceptionally high standard – usually end of February or beginning of March.

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Letterkenny Pantomime Society

The Letterkenny Pantomime Society present a panto every January at An Grianan. They take well loved fairytale classics and give them a local spin.

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Lifford Players

The Lifford Players in their 2016 production of Tom Murphy's A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer's Assistant

The Lifford Players in their 2016 production of Tom Murphy’s A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant

One of the country’s oldest and most respected amateur theatre companies. Founded in the 1950s. Recent shows are Tom Murphy’s A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant and comedy ‘Allo, ‘Allo.

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On Cue Academy

Founded by Nora Kavanagh, On Cue offer classes in musical theatre and drama for children. They normally hold a showcase performance in June.

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ZoNa Dance Co

Founded by Jessica Peoples, ZoNa Dance offer high quality training in classical ballet and dance. They normally present a showcase once a year, usually in May.

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Auditions: Bugsy Malone

The Letterkenny Music and Drama Group are holding auditions here at An Grianán for their winter production of the gangster musical classic Bugsy Malone.

Audition Dates: Wed 18 & Sat 21 June at An Grianan Theatre

The cast will be primarily made up of 13-18 year olds but this is only a general guide. If you fall slightly outside of the age bracket, don’t worry, they won’t be checking birth certs!

They are looking for the best young local talent available to stage this hilarious and energy packed production which will include actors, singers, dancers and of course plenty of splurge!

If you think you’ve got what it takes, send a quick email to bugsymaloneletterkenny@gmail.com stating your name and your age. You will then be given a specified time to audition.

This is a two day process so if you are not available for either of these dates please specify clearly in the email.

Bugsy Malone performance dates are Tues 2 to Sat 6 December 2014.

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