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Pitched for perfection

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 16th February, 2011 5:30pm

Pitched for perfection

No, this wasn’t mixed up with the sports pages! Shane Connaughton is acting as goalie to promote his play, The Pitch. It’s about a former player’s struggle with coming to terms with having missed out in playing in the county final because he was sent off in the previous game. Shane’s character, Phil

The Moth proudly presents The Pitch, written by Co. Cavan native Shane Connaughton, directed by Kerry Crabbe and starring Shane Connaughton, Yvonne Heyneman and Niall Lynch. It comes to Gonzo theatre next weekend for its premiére in advance of a national tour. It shows at the Cavan theatre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 24, 25 & 26, as well as the following week, on March 3, 4 & 5.

The Pitch tells the story of Philly who lived and played for his team, the jersey, the parish, his friends − the very pitch his enemies are now trying to take from him to turn into a housing estate.

Like Philoctetes abandoned by his comrades as they go off to fight the Trojan War, Philly is tormented by painful memories and the unjust fate that holds him prisoner as  he replays the events of that day when his club won the county championship for the one and only time and he wasn’t allowed to play. 

Accused of fathering an illegitimate child, and now threatened with retirement to a nursing home, he holds tight to the memory of the Herculean feats of his youth – and to the land on which these dramas unfolded. For him, the old pitch is sacred ground, and it is here that he will make his last stand.

Kingscourt born and Redhills raised Shane Connaughton is an award-winning writer and actor who has appeared in many stage and screen productions, including Coronation Street, Mike Leigh’s Four Days In July and Neil Jordan’s The Miracle. His screenwriting credits include My Left Foot (nominated for an Academy Award), The Playboys and Dollar Bottom (which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short). Literary prizes for his fiction include the Hennessy Award and the George Devine Award, and he has been the subject of two television documentaries for the BBC and RTE.

Kerry Crabbe has worked extensively as a writer, director and producer in film, TV and theatre. He collaborated with Laurence Olivier on a series of TV films; was Associate Director at the Oxford Playhouse; and wrote Memoirs of a Survivor (starring Julie Christie) and The Playboys (with Shane Connaughton). He was invited by Harold Pinter to adapt his only novel The Dwarfs for the stage at the National Theatre, he runs the Monty Python-founded ‘Club Panico’ for young film-makers, and he has taught widely – from the London Film Academy to a UNESCO film training unit in Zimbabwe.

Connaughton and Crabbe are keen to see what the people of Cavan think of the play which they’ve been rehearsing in Cavan for weeks.

“In a way the play is being put through the fire here,” says Kerry. “The people here might in some ways our warmest audience, but they’d also paradoxically be our most critical.”

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