We will be in Lislea on Saturday and Sunday nights for the opening of their 30th Anniversary Lislea Drama Festival.
Last year Lislea took runners-up place at the All-Ireland (Confined) Circuit with their performance of Brian Friel’s Freedom of the City.
This year they take on an even more challenging role with the Irish premiere of Schulberd’s stage adaptation of the classic film that made Marlon Brando’s name, ‘On the Waterfront’. I look forward to seeing that on Wednesday week (9th March).
For me one of the attractions of the amateur confined circuit is that producers specialise in Irish playwrights and mostly popular and familiar plays. Of course this is limiting and betimes less that challenging, but Lislea has proved that that element too can be accommodated. The audience gets what they want – and often much more.
This year we have two Synge, two Friel, a Marina Carr, a classic Arthur Millar and a wicked little comedy by John Chapman/Dave Freeman thrown in for good measure. I will detal all later.
First, opening night has Tubbercurry, Sligo doing Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come. Appropriately enough, now that emigration has once again taken on the role of primary object of our disillusioned youth, this tells the story of the last night at home of the boat-bound Gar O’Donnell and his torturous relationship with his widower father. This is told through his double personae, Gar Public and Gar Private. Philadelphia is rightly considered a Friel masterpiece.
Sunday night is Mullagh, Cavan doing Carr’s ‘Portia Coughlan’. I remember Patricia McCoy for Newpoint playing this role to perfection, perhaps up to ten years ago! Time flies.
Portia is a self-centred, depressive alcoholic, neglectful of her children, but very desirable to every man in Belmont Valley. In this story dark family secrets, the spirits of the earth and the ghosts of the past all haunt the present.
Via this play, Marina Carr sprang from relative obscurity to a premier role among the breed of Irish young playwrights.
A nice song ? OK …