“Have you ever been in love, me boys?” the song asks…In truth we were all struck by Drama Cupid’s bow and arrow in 2017. It burrowed its way, hooked and reeled us all in. When the endorphins get loose they infect everyone, from back stage to main stage and technicians alike. We feast on the feeling as it travels like a virus until we are consumed by it all.
Our love story with drama began in February with our entry in the three act drama circuit, Tom Stoppard’s ‘The Real Thing’. It became an unreal, surreal, passionate thing for us all, and it was a joy to produce with the best of people in the finest of festivals. The story continued as it so often does with the Ballyshannon Drama Festival, our 65th, when we laughed, cried, clapped and cheered with joy, sadness and celebration.
At the end of May, the next chapter in our story opened with ‘A Funny Kind of Day’. Much to his credit, our director Bill Greaves cast seven new actors who had never been in a three act play before. The result was truly amazing as our new stars enthralled the audience for a four-night run. A wonderful success in every way.
The society decided on two one-act plays for our winter sport. Both plays were presented back-to-back, with one going forward for the One Act Festival Circuit. Ailis Mc Intyre directed one of the plays, “The Fat Lady Sings in Little Grimley”, a hilarious comedy performed by a cast of four new and old hands, and another great success.
Anne Mc Hugh directed the second play, a seriously dark piece called “Five Kinds of Silence” with a cast of six. This play went forward on the One Act Circuit, where it won all five of its circuit festivals, finishing up second in the All Ireland Finals in Letterkenny in December, a fantastic achievement of which we are all proud.
All plays have a human connection. Mark Fortier said “The purpose of theatre is to put the audience in a better position to understand the world around us.” It’s true – their stories evoke memories, funny and sad situations we instantly affiliate with. We recognise characters who live amongst us, some that we love, some we avoid, scenes bring us to places we want to return to or may never want to experience again. They release feelings from the corners of the heart you didn’t know were there. Memories sneak out of your eyes and roll down your cheeks, and you wipe them away quickly in case someone might witness a weak moment, then all of a sudden there’s a change of heart as you suddenly burst out laughing and everyone around you joins in to relieve the tension and a wonderful moment is shared by all.
Sometimes the sprinkle system is so strong on stage we are drowning from its spill. When the lights go down we quickly sojourn to the foyer or green room or white room or any room to share those spoils from a surreal world in real time. Folk nudge into the huddle for chat and banter and knowledge, sharing a masterclass, and one must retain mental notes to ponder on later and unscramble in one’s own time.
On our one act circuit journey we watched and listened and admired great works, shared wonderful moments and became friends to strangers. We drank tea, fine-dined on tasty sandwiches and home bakes, talked each other into a pint in some local hostelry for the sake of the banter. Sometimes we left euphoric, sometimes we left confused but happy with a night’s work, but it never leaves you. It will stay in your head and take up residence for the long journey home, tuck itself into bed with you and abruptly waken you in the morning. You try to leave it at home as it could come to work and distract you entirely.
The love of drama is a serious drug that links us all to the best of people, and we are richer for that, wiser certainly, and it leaves us yearning for more. They say theatre does not last, only in people’s memories and in their hearts, but that’s the beauty and sadness of it all, and that is why theatre is life, and endlessly fascinating.
As we leave 2017 we would love to meet you all again next year during the three act festival run and share more wonderful, surreal times.
The Ballyshannon Drama festival is only a March away, and we will be waiting to share your laughter and tears, clap in admiration of your talents, hard labour and appreciate your journey. We promise banter afterwards and the sharing of thoughts over a cuppa or perhaps a sip or two if ye can stay a while longer.
We look forward to that reunion.
Until then enjoy the rest that Christmas has to offer. Remember fondly those who can’t be with us through sickness or otherwise. Send them a message from the heart because they are a very valuable part of our society and have left their indelible print.
Parting thoughts: may each and everyone of you get shot by Drama Cupid’s bow until your dramatic pulse beats stronger with every new character you mould with truth in your heart.