Recent mention of the Newry Drama Festival brought the memories flooding back!
So many of my childhood hours were spent in the Town Hall devouring whatever was on offer and quite often participating.
The offerings were many and varied. My introduction to acting was as a lowly dwarf, one of the seven, in a school production of “Snow White”. Which one of the seven completely escapes me but I do remember that my costume, as were the other six, was fashioned from sacking. The mothers of the dwarfs were instructed to dye each one a different colour. Mine was a regal purple and as a six year old then I could not have been more proud of an outfit if Dior himself had created it!
And then of course there were the exciting times when, instead of entering via the stage door, with it’s smells of grease paint, chalk etc I headed for the somewhat grander main entrance and the auditorium.
I eventually progressed to the dizzy heights of playing Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In between times there were of course lots of other opportunities to tread the boards at the Town Hall. There was the Newry Musical Feis and the nerve-wrecking verse speaking, with the sudden dryness of mouth and the violin playing with the unexplainable onset of stiff fingers!
And as I wait for the curtain to lift and the lights to dim I’m aware of the “clunk” of each drop-down seat,the rattle of programmes and sweet wrappers and the hum of conversation. But over-riding all of that is the anticipation of something magical.
Whether it was the Drama Festival, the Opera or the many Gilbert & Sullivan Operettas, always I was spell-bound and I’m pleased to say that the spell remains unbroken.
And each time a miracle happened, with the award of a medal for my efforts.
… Michael Murphy remembered …