The Aisteoirí Muinchille rehearsing outdoors at Erica’s Fairy Forest.

Jumping through hoops for a show

By Gemma Good

The Aisteoirí Muinchille are back in the game with ‘Cootehill Comics’ set to take place on July 23 and 24.

The drama group are thrilled to be showcasing their first face-to-face event since the beginning of the pandemic. The comedy show, comprising of eight sketches and musical intervals, will take place on the basketball court at St Aidan’s Comprehensive School in Cootehill.

“We’re taking to a basketball court instead of taking to a stage but we’re hopefully going to have the same final effect,” enthused Fiona Coll, chairperson of Aisteoirí Muinchille.

The group are ecstatic to be preparing for their performance.

“It is so exciting! We’re just delighted to be back, to have that bit of normality and freedom of performance, theatre, drama and fun.”

Fiona explained the group used the time afforded by lockdown to write the ‘Cootehill Comics’ sketches collaboratively on Zoom. With the help of Declan Gorman, the group learned new skills enabling them to “go off into breakout rooms and improvise sketches”.

Popular TV shows, including Downton Abbey, Line of Duty, Derry Girls, Room to Improve and Father Ted were mined for inspiration.

“They have given us a springboard for ideas,” she explained, adding the group have given the shows a Cavan twist or brought them to the modern day.

They selected a broad range of tv shows to ensure there would be “something for everyone of all ages.”

“We have made it all comedy,” Fiona assured, explaining the necessity for something light-hearted.

She thanked everybody for their “hard work”, ensuring there were eight sketches “ready to go” for the big event.

“We have a finished product and we’re all hands on deck for rehearsals.”

The group have rehearsed outdoors and Fiona reports the weather has been fairly obliging.

“We had one night where we were rehearsing with a gazebo and umbrellas but we have never been rained out yet.”

The basketball court boasts some aspects of an amphitheatre: “It’s tiered seating, but there’s concrete seats so people are advised to bring a cushion,” Fiona says.

The chairperson thanked St Aidan’s for providing the facility to showcase their work.

“As soon as we’re allowed we can’t wait to be back in a theatre doing a full three act production as it’s what every drama group would prefer to be doing. It’s worth too much to us to wait until we’re able to do that, we want to do something in the meantime,” expressed Fiona.

She explained when the group shifted over to online, they attracted a younger audience which has been felt in the works produced.

“We were working in the Facebook and the social media world so it brought us a new audience. As well as our audience being of all ages, our group is of all ages.

“You have mammies and grannies in the cast so everybody has different perspectives and life experiences they can draw from.”

For many of the newcomers, this will be their debut live appearance.

“They would have had their first performances on Facebook or through our online production ‘The Pilgrims of Slieve,’ but this will be their first time performing with us at a live event.”

It’s not just the group who are looking forward to the show.

“The audience are excited as well, when we meet people they’re all talking about it. It’s nice to have something positive to be able to share with people. It’s an added bonus that we created this ourselves,” she added.

Fiona praised the “heartening” support they’ve received throughout the pandemic.

“We have got great support, we really didn’t know how it was going to go. People have just rolled with it and they’re continuing to do that.”

The organisers are confident the ‘Cootehill Comics’ will sell out and advise people to book their spot before they are gone. Tickets are available through Eventbrite for €10. Kicking off at 8pm on both nights on July 23 and 24, the event is fully Covid compliant with stewards on site.