‘Conversations’ represents new era for Arts Centre

Next week sees an exciting new production of renowned Irish playwright Tom Murphy’s play Conversations on a Homecoming take to the stage at Roscommon Arts Centre.  The production marks an exciting new departure for the arts centre which, for the first time ever, has been involved in all aspects of the production from the choice of play to the actors, a national pr and marketing campaign and even the design of the tour as part of their involvement in the NOMAD Theatre Network. The project has been in the planning stages for the last two years, when a group of seven theatre managers from the North Midlands region including: Roscommon Arts Centre, the Ramor Theatre, Virginia County Cavan, the Garage Theatre Monaghan, An Táin Theatre Dundalk, Droichead Arts Centre Drogheda, Backstage Theatre Longford, Mullingar Arts Centre and Íontas in Castleblaney joined forces with Livin Dred Theatre Company, a professional theatre company based in Cavan to form NOMAD, a partnership network. The NOMAD partners have set out to not only encourage more national and international professional companies to perform in theatres in their areas, but to also produce their own high quality, professional performances which they know their audiences will enjoy and which is possible when they pool their resources and funding. The results of their first labour, is Conversations on a Homecoming which can now be seen at Roscommon Arts Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday next November 13th & 14th. This is a wonderful opportunity to see what is widely regarded as one of the best plays ever written in the last half century by one of Ireland’s greatest living playwrights, Tom Murphy, who himself hails from neighbouring County Galway. Set in a Galway pub in the early 1970’s, a group of friends gather together after an absence of ten years to welcome Michael, a failed actor, home from America. They settle into the usual slagging of the Irish pub, funny and barbed. The mean-mindedness of some of them shines through the humour and the slagging turns into something more barbed. Is JJ, the pub’s owner, the hero he seemed? Or is the country ready to follow ‘any old bollocks that has read a book on American politics’. Is the local prosperous businessman half the man he thinks he is? Are they all disillusioned with heroes and loss of ideals or can they remember a time when there was hope and the world was theirs? When they are all in danger of falling into bitterness and hopelessness Peggy, the young girl, sings a song that changes the evening. Anyone who has ever spent a night in the pub, will instantly recognise and be able to identify with some of the characters and how the night develops once the drink is in. Directed by Padraic McIntyre, the cast includes Don Wycherley (Tom), Andrew Bennett (Michael), Peter Daly (Junior), Michael Patric (Liam), Karen Scully (Peggy), Brid Ní Chumhaill (Missus) and Jenn Murray (Ann) and the production has been made possible with the assistance of The Arts Council’s Touring Initiative who have invested €163,000 in the production and RTE have also come on board as a major advertising partner for the tour. Tickets are now on sale for what is undoubtedly the highlight of Roscommon Arts Centre’s 2007 programme of events on (090) 66 25824, don’t miss it!