2008 Roscommon Drama Festival lauded

The 2008 Roscommon Drama Festival concluded last Saturday night to sustained applause for Coolera Dramatic Society’s production of Harold Pinter’s critically acclaimed 1960’s play The Caretaker.  The Roscommon audience delighted in the quality and variety of the last of nine nights of uplifting dramatic performances that drew unqualified praise from the Festival adjudicator and from the Roscommon Drama Festival chairperson. Carrigallen’s Cornmill Theatre’s production of The Trappe Family and Corofin Dramatic Society’s staging of The Beauty Queen of Leenane took the top honours in the open and confined sections of the festival. These two drama groups are now likely to qualify for the National Finals. The finals will be held in the Dean Crowe Theatre in Athlone this summer. Speaking at the conclusion of the Arts Festival last Saturday night Festival Adjudicator Mr. Pádraic McIntyre praised Roscommon Drama Festival 2008. He lauded the audiences that ‘contributed so much’ to the festival and praised the Roscommon community in general for the warm welcome he received during his stay. Speaking to Roscommon People last Tuesday a spokesperson for Roscommon Drama Festival expressed ‘tremendous satisfaction’ with the success of the nine-day festival and commented that a ‘high quality’ of drama was on display on each night of the festival. ‘The Drama Festival was a really massive success. The whole committee and everybody involved in organising it is thrilled this week with how it went. The Festival received wonderful support from local businesses and from local arts patrons and it has been a very positive experience for everyone on the whole,’ said the spokesperson. Large crowds converged on the Arts Centre for every night of the festival. The venue was sold out for seven of the nine nights. The Festival spokesperson thanked the public for its support in this respect, and said that this was the ultimate aim of the Festival organising committee.  ‘The ultimate aim of the festival was to have people in seats watching the performances. So we’re delighted that there were only two nights when it wasn’t completely sold out. That is very positive for the arts in Roscommon generally. On one or two nights there were long waiting lists for tickets. We’re delighted that the level of interest was so strong,’ she said. The overall winner of the Roscommon Drama Festival was Carigallen’s Cornmill Theatre’s production of The Trappe Family. This contemporary play, which was written last year, depicts the lives of members of a dysfunctional family that comes together every year on the roof of their garage to commemorate the anniversary of their father’s death. The very powerful play treats with family issues of contemporary import, and also touches on small town rural life. Cornmill Theatre performed The Trappe Family excellently last week and Festival organisers are confident that it will qualify for the All-Ireland series next summer.  ‘This is the Cornmill Theatre’s second Arts Festival success and with two wins I suppose you could be fairly confident that they’re well on their way to the All-Ireland. We wish them every success: it’ll be brilliant for Roscommon Drama Festival if the Carrigallen group has a good summer,’ said the Festival spokesperson.  The drama festival came to an end with Coolera Dramatic Society’s performance of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker. A full house thoroughly enjoyed the acting and the high quality of the set last Saturday night. The Caretaker was the first of Pinter’s plays. The play unfolds the lives of three men – two brothers and a tramp – and deals with the distance between reality and fantasy, family relationships, and the struggle for power. It also touches on the subjects of mental illness and the plight of the indigent. The Caretaker’s elements of comedy and tragedy evoked varied reactions in the Roscommon audience. The Coolera group succeeded in borrowing from the spirit of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1955), on which critics claimed The Caretaker was based. Waiting for Godot is the story of two tramps who wait endlessly for someone they know only as Godot to come and give meaning and purpose to their lives. The set used by the Coolera group for The Caretaker was similar in several respects to the minimalist sets that are associated with Waiting for Godot. Last Saturday night the Chairperson of Roscommon Drama  Festival Mary Cox thanked everyone who supported, sponsored and contributed to the Festival over the past number of months to help make the festival the resounding success that it is.  Roscommon Drama Festival 2008 was run under the auspices of the Amateur Drama Society of Ireland. And the awards go to … Main Award (Open Winner): Cornmill Theatre for The Trapp Family.  Main Award (Confined Winner): Corofin Dramatic Society for The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Best Director (Open Winner): Brian Reilly (Cornmill Theatre) for The Trapp Family. Best Director (Confined Winner): John Clancy (Corofin Dramatic Society) for The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Best Actor: Brian Sheehan (Shoestring Theatre) for the part of Gar Public in Philadelphia Here I Come. Best Actress: Maura Clancy (Corofin Dramatic Society) for the part of Maureen in The Beauty Queen of Leenane Best Supporting Actor: Charles McGuinness (Cornmill Theatre) for the part of Patrick in The Trapp Family Best Supporting Actress: Miriam Pettit (K.A.T.S. Galway) for the part of Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie Best Stage Setting: Shoestring Theatre, Charleville, for Philadelphia Here I Come.  Special Award: Adjudicator’s Award A: Mary Mullan (Dunmore Amateur Dramatic Society) for standing in the part of Sarah in Borrowed Robes Special Award: Adjudicator’s Award B: Peadar Conway (Cloonacool Players) for the part of Byrne in Big Maggie  Roscommon Arts Festival Perpetual Award: Cornmill Theatre, Carrigallen for The Trapp Family