One act plays debut at Cork Writers' Week

Arts Theatre runs its annual Writers’ Week from February 19-22. The competition, which sees six shortlisted plays premiere, was established in 1986. This year saw the biggest entry, with 38 writers entering their work for the competition.

Three plays will be performed each night, with each being performed twice over the three days. The adjudicator is Maureen O’Byrne. Category A is for experienced playwrights and/or playwrights who have been previously short-listed for the competition. Category B is for novice playwrights.

An open call for directors was carried out. “We always have a huge response,” says manager of the event, Breda Healy. “We select new directors as well as directors that are established.” Healy says that logistically, staging the six plays is not problematic.

“The plays are all one act dramas. The actors rehearse in the Cork Arts Theatre so that they get used to the stage. We have our own stage manager working on the productions. Between each show the theatre is emptied for ten minutes to allow for set changes. We had all the plays cast before Christmas. We had an open call looking for actors as well as using our own data base of actors.” This year’s readers of the plays are Kieran O’Leary, Dolores Mannion and Berna Gordon.

Last year’s winning writer in category B was Dorothy Ahern. Her latest play, Tomato Ice-Cream, is in this year’s competition, directed by Cal Duggan.

Healy says that last year, the recession was a recurring theme. “This year, some of the plays are more hopeful. There are more comedies and farces. There is also one historical play, The Death and Legacy of the Other Pearse, by David McGuire. It’s about the fate of Pádraig Pearse’s brother, William, in the wake of the Easter Rising.”

The Light Keepers by Mark Evans has a big theme. It’s about the Greek mythological figure, Prometheus, who has seen civilisations rise and fall. As the keeper of the light, his time seems to have come to an end with talk of a new era and a high tech future where people can have everything they want at the touch of a button.

Apocalypse Please! by Mike O’Dowd is set on the eve of the Mayan Apocalypse. At a house warming party, a depressed eccentric decides to play a nasty trick on the group which stirs emotions and results in dark secrets being revealed.

Dope by Ciara Cassoni is a bittersweet comedy about the ups and downs of a couple’s relationship. It seems their beloved greyhound is all that’s keeping them together. The play questions what happens when people’s expectations don’t match their reality.

Molly Malone by Vera Cait Walsh is about a Dublin girl, Tara, who finds herself stranded in town “because she held on to her virtue.” She is befriended by Molly, a lady who can’t remember where she lives. Enter William, an unemployed musician, as “a dubious knight in shining armour.” He soon earns the title when he defends Tara and Molly from a couple of drunks.


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