Plays are happening. This month. New plays that I wrote. It’s all very exciting and great fun. I’m certainly a lucky boy, to have these things happen to me.
First up, on 22nd March, at The Claremorris Fringe Festival, it’s ‘I Bet You Say That to All the Boys’.
This is my sixth consecutive new play in the Fringe Festival and it’s only been running for six years, so it’s a record I’m a bit proud of. Some might possibly tut and say, “It’s his local area, they’d let him in, even if he only entered his shopping list”, but I don’t think it’s like that. Every year, I take my entry very seriously and try my best to write the best play that I can. This year is the first time I’ve tried to write in response to a political or current situation. I don’t think anybody will know that when they see the play but I did and it makes me feel all grown up and stuff.
The same three actors have appeared in all six plays and I have directed them, with lots of help and conspiracy from my thespian pals, Donna, Tara and Eamon. The rehearsal process is a joy of discovery, of pushing each other’s boundaries and of generally taking the piss out of each other.
I’m looking forward to our night at the Fringe in Claremorris. I think this may be my last year for a while but then I always say that, don’t I?
Then, later in the month, Donna Ruane’s superb ‘Acting for Fun’ teen group is back at the Linenhall. It’s the 27th and 28th, actually, and tickets are going fast so… y’know. After having such an amazing time over the last two years with the productions of my plays, ‘Midnight in the Theatre of Blood’ and the premiere of ‘Deb’s Night’, I found I couldn’t just let them go off and work with some other old playwright. I had to try to get their attention again.
Thus was born ‘The Colour of Red’. This one is a romantic comedy about such lightweight subjects as Love and Death. The play has its genesis with Mary Carr in St. Patrick’s Drama Group in Westport, who asked me to write them a second radio play many years ago. That play became ‘A Place in Between’ and it has now transformed itself (well… I transformed it) into a teenage play for the stage. I say ‘teenage play’ but really we try hard to allow the young actors an opportunity to present themes and stories which will connect with the parents and all the other adults in the audience. The surprise, for the adults, is that the play they see is really as much about them and for them as it is for the teenage members of the audience. Over the last two years this aspect of the work has been very satisfying. To see the adults emerge from the theatre, every bit as moved and amused as everybody else. That’s what we’re going for again this year.
Rehearsals are going very well. We had one yesterday and the level of commitment and care from the cast is very high indeed. We also laughed our asses off quite a bit, which is a fundamental part of the endeavour. It’s acting for fun but it is also acting of the highest integrity (kudos to Donna Ruane) and with the most noble intent; to bring the best show we possibly can to our audiences, with no concessions to anything.
‘The Colour of Red’ is about 45-50 minutes long so I've also written a new short play to go in front of it. I like this ‘Pixar’ notion of presenting a short piece before the main event. We’ve done it before with my short plays ‘Fine’ and also with ‘Dream On’ This year’s short play is called ‘Tweedie’ and I hope it raises a smile.
We’re also taking another short play from a book of short plays by John Dessler and Lawrence Phillis and (being permitted to do so) I have ‘tweaked’ this around a bit to suit our own local ways and peculiarities. It's called 'The Date Tests'. A read-through on this yesterday resulted in almost unbearable hilarity so I have high hopes that this one will pave the way for ‘The Colour of Red’ with our audiences.
I return to the same thought regularly. I am just one lucky duck. I get to write and to find people who are willing and able to bring my writings to fruition on the stage. The writing then often goes on to be performed by other groups and in other places. I have a wonderful theatre on my doorstep who back me up and encourage me on to do the next thing.
Thanks to everyone who enables me and encourages me to keep typing my stuff out in the dead of night. I always try to do it the very best I can because the people I work with deserve nothing less.
This month of theatre-stuff is going to be edgy and a bit scary and great fun.
Bring it on.
Tickets for 'The Colour of Red, Tweedie, and The Date Tests' can be booked at The Linenhall Theatre, Castlebar or on 094 90 23733. The Claremorris Drama and Fringe Festival can be booked on 094 93 10999)