An absolute classic of Irish drama - and a firm favourite of the festival circuit - ‘Sive’ - is set to get this year's Shercock Drama Festival off to a flying start. This, the 33rd year of the annual festival, sees Newtownstewart Theatre Company hit the Shercock stage to perform John B Keane’s much loved drama on opening night - Thursday, March 14 at 8pm.
All four provinces are represented in the Shercock festival with the eight groups hailing from Tyrone to Cork and Galway to Wexford make up an interesting and varied programme. Four groups contest the open section while the same number compete in the confined section, all with the aim of securing a place in their respective All Ireland finals.
John B Keane’s timeless creations are always popular with Irish audiences. The late Listowel storyteller crafted plays that touch a chord with rural Irish people. This play tells the story of Sive, a young illegitimate girl living with her uncle Mike and his wife. Sive is being matched with Sean Dota, a much older gentleman, while she is in love with Liam Scuab. A Kerry based play performed by a Tyrone based troupe, Interesting! This night of theatre is kindly sponsored by James R Frazer Hardware Kingscourt.
Friday March 15 sees the return of the 2017 All-Ireland Open Winners Dalkey Players, Dublin to the Shercock stage. Their presentation of George Eliot’s ‘The Mill on the Floss’ is eagerly awaited. Set in rural England in the 1820s, it tells the story of Maggie Tulliver, a miller’s daughter trapped and doomed by the expectations of a society suspicious of an intelligent woman who thinks and feels too much for her own good at that time. A powerful story, the theme is deemed unsuitable for children but should seriously engage an adult audience. This night of drama is sponsored by Shercock Credit Union.
On Saturday March 16, Co Wexford group Kilmuckridge group present another old Irish favourite ‘The Righteous are Bold’ by Frank Carney. Set in 1945, the play is centred on Nora Geraty, a young woman who has decided to leave the poverty of her home near Croagh Patrick to find work in England. The play opens as news comes to her family that she is unwell and abruptly returns to be greeted by her family and an old flame. What follows is a battle between scientific pagan and Christian beliefs as efforts are made to remove the evil that has possessed Nora during her time abroad. This night of drama is sponsored by Mc Evoys Pharmacy, Shercock.
Sunday March 17 sees another Tyrone group Pomeroy Players take the stage with their production of Ray Cooney’s comedy ‘Out of Order’. The story features the antics of a junior Government Minister who is meeting a young female opposition typist in a hotel room. Things go disastrously wrong with hilarious consequences. This night of drama is kindly sponsored by Duffy’s Costcutter, Shercock.
A second Wexford troupe Bunclody/Kilmyshal present ‘Moonglow’ by Kim Carney on Monday, March 18. Maxine a feisty Alzheimer’s patient doesn’t want to move into a nursing facility, but when she meets Joe, a widower who shares her love of dancing, her feelings begin to change. The play tells the sad, poignant and mercilessly funny story of a family’s struggle with this cruel disease. This night of drama is kindly sponsored by Sarah O’Reilly County Councillor.
Corn Mill Theatre, Carrigallen Co. Leitrim are sure to receive a warm welcome on Tuesday, March 19, when they present Dermot Healy’s ‘On Broken Wings’. It features the life of Timothy Lavelle, with the different parts of the play exploring his wide range of experiences during his life abroad. Eventually he returns to Ireland to sit by the hearth like his parents before him, Timothy is a stubborn survivor. This night of drama is kindly sponsored by Roe Oils Ltd Shercock.
The Festival takes a break on Wednesday, March 20, to accommodate Shercock’s popular weekly Bingo session.
Thursday, March 21, sees the return of another popular troupe Glenamaddy Players with their production of ‘Rabbit Hole’ by David Lindsay Abaire. A tragic comedy set in New York, the play tells the story of how a family cope with all the different aspects of grief following a random tragedy and what it means to live a fruitful life when things are falling apart. Coman Keaveny and his Galway troupe won the confined section of last year’s festival with ‘The Good Father’, prior to taking third place in the national finals. This night of drama is kindly sponsored by Kingspan.
The remarkably successful Kilmeen Drama Group based in Rossmore County Cork, bring down the curtain on this year’s proceedings with their presentation of Martin Mc Donagh’s ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’. The four times, All-Ireland Open winners will present another offering from Mc Donagh’s ferocious pen and it’s a night not to be missed. Who knocked mad Padraic’s cat over on a lonely road on the island of Inishmore, and was it an accident? He’ll want to know when he returns from a stint of torture and chip shop bombing in Northern Ireland because he loves his cat more than life itself! This play is deemed unsuitable for children. This night of drama is kindly sponsored by Deputy Niamh Smyth.
Then it’s down to adjudicator Geoff O’Keeffe to decide the destination of The Tabetex Trophy, presented to the Open Section winners and the Fr Patsy Young Trophy, sponsored by Angretia Ltd, awarded to the leading group in the Confined Category. The committee is grateful to Tabetex Ltd for the part they have played as main sponsor of the festival from its inception, as well as Angretia Ltd, Sillan Tours, Farney Print, Link Credit Union, The Bailie Hotel, The Shirley Arms Hotel, and all sponsors listed in the colourful programme. A season ticket costing €70 is good value, while this year sees the introduction of a four-night ticket priced at €40. A reminder that the productions on Friday 15 and Friday 22 are not suitable for children. Enquiries to 086-2010082 or 087-3247461. Patrons will know that the 8pm starting time is strictly adhered to, with no admission during the performance. The festival will be opened by Sean Corcoran, PRO of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland; while local curate Fr Martin Gilcreest will perform the closing ceremony. The great community support that the festival has always enjoyed is always appreciated. On with the show!