Celebrating heritage through drama

Three packed houses at the Corn Mill Theatre recently enjoyed a unique experience when a cast of 60, aged from 5 to 75, performed in a new play “The Other Place” written and directed by Maura Williamson. The play was enhanced by songs and poems written by Tony Fahy.

Three packed houses at the Corn Mill Theatre recently enjoyed a unique experience when a cast of 60, aged from 5 to 75, performed in a new play “The Other Place” written and directed by Maura Williamson. The play was enhanced by songs and poems written by Tony Fahy.

Back in September 2011 two local communities in Carrigallen- The Margaret of New Orleans and The Bredagh Old School Heritage jointly engaged in a programme called Integrating Communities. The administration and facilitation of this programme was delivered by Rural Development Council (RDC) and funded by the International Fund for Ireland.

The aims included the fostering and developing relationships within this community of Carrigallen. With the two communities engaging in partnership, they took action in a new and innovative project involving the writing of a play linking two people who spent part of their lives in Carrigallen, Margaret (Gaffney) Haughrey and Percy French, who had written his famous song Phil the Fluter’s Ball in Carrigallen.

Speaking to the Leader Maura Williamson talked enthusiastically about the project from its initial stages, where she did drama workshops in four local national schools, educating the children about Margaret and Percy, introducing them to script-writing and contributing that script to the play.

These children were then to become part of the cast.

There was a lot of research and interviewing and perhaps the highlight was in the material gathered in storytelling sessions - people from the entire community gathering in each others’ houses telling stories of bygone days. Those stories were transformed into the script for the play and some very powerful scenes were performed by members of the talented Leitrim Youth Theatre Company, Carrigallen. They were joined by David Rawle, (soon be seen on our television screen in “Moon Boy”).

Members of both communities joined in dancing and singing scenes in the play. The two main actors Kate Reilly and Barry Taylor, played their parts most professionally on stage. Both sang the principal songs as well. The play flowed through ten scenes of drama, movement, song, poetry, and narrative - all enhanced by live music in the capable hands of Tony Fahy and his musicians. Tony also wrote the songs and poems for the play. This production still continues to be the positive ‘talk of the town’ of Carrigallen, and neighbouring towns.