This week Armagh Theatre Group were to present 'IMPACT' in the Market Place Theatre for several performances. An extended script was adapted for the new venue and all the cast had committed to the schedule of rehearsals. It was shaping up to be an exciting project for all involved. Tickets were already being purchased in February and pormotions had started.
What a changed world we live in now as it looks like threatres will be the last public venues to open after this pandemic has abated.
Undaunted ATG have picked up the challenge to perform for our audience via Zoom, with the 'in houses' production Zoomeo and Juliet. A humorous behind the scenes look at the problems that present themselves when an amature group embrace this technology to rehearse.
We are aiming for the first weekend in July showing two live Zoom performances by a stellar cast and directed by a brave Margery Quinn.
Keep your eyes peeled to our website and social media for the invitation details. You will be able to prebook a viewing slot and help towards our Building Extension fund via Paypal. All proceeds will go towards these substantical costs. Thank you.
Armagh Theatre Group is YOUR theatre group.
After a 10 day vacation in the back garden, recommended by my doctor due to Broadband failure, we have been reconnected at last.
Two things that have helped to get us through this frightful period are exceptional weather and Broadband, Oh, and alcohol and chocolate.
So four things that have helped us through this awful virus time Good Weather, Drink, Sweeties and Internet. Luckily it didn’t rain while camping in the garden and we had stockpiled on Alcohol and Chocolates (as well as bleach and toilet rolls). But I really missed Netflix…..and posting Jigsaws and Questionnaires on the ATG website.
So we are back on track now with a crowd of people from our 2016 production Our Town. Some could sing, some could act and some just mimed.
Now put them all together and see if you can find yourself.
Remember time is of the essence and the winner’s prize is a day trip to Barnard Castle, Co Durham were sight seeing is now world renowned.
Link to jigsaw above.
REGRETFULLY WE AT THE JIGSAW COMMITTEE HAVE BEEN INFORMED ANONYMOUSLY OF THE UNDERHANDED USE OF 'GHOSTING' BY SOME PARTICIPANTS ATTEMPTING TO IMPROVE THEIR TIME AND THUS GAIN OUR SUPER WEEKLY PRIZE..
THIS IS A FEATURE DESIGNED TO AID THOSE NEW TO THE CONCEPT OF A JIGSAW ( ie Children OR people who may have learning difficulities) TO COMPLETE A PUZZLE.
SOME UNBELIEVABLE TIMES HAVE BEEN LODGED TO US IN THE PAST WEEKS. (even with having time on your hands during Covid).
TO STAMP THIS UNSCRUPULOUS, UNSPORTSWOMANLIKE ACTION OUT WE WILL BE SUSPENDING ALL WEEKLY PRIZES AS OF TODAY.
The committee wish to thank Matilda Heaney Lee for raising the matter.
Tim "Drinks on the house for everyone" as Charlie Knipe (Barman) and Peter Kelly salute 'a Great man' (and so say all of us)
ARMAGH THEATRE GROUP QUESTIONNAIRE 2020
NAME; Tim Hanna
JOB/ CAREER; Semi Retired Valuer
ATG MEMBER since; 1987
WHY DID YOU JOIN ; Didn’t “join”. Was press ganged by James Lamb (along with other innocents, Wilma Campbell & Charlie Knipe) under the pretext of a Sunday afternoon cricket match. A lot of bottles of good plonk later, Mr Lamb went in for “the Kill” and successfully recruited us – a technique which sounds pretty “dodgy” by today’s standards!
1st PRODUCTION; The Way To Keep Him – a Victorian Melodrama performed in The Band Hall on the Mall. I think I was a vicar. It was pretty manic but obviously addictive.
1st PRODUCER/DIRECTOR; James Lamb who was always calm and encouraging!
FAVOURITE THEATRE to PERFORM/ VISIT No favourite but prefer modern and small.
FAVOURITE PLAY and PART; Blackpool & Parrish (one of James Lamb’s Canadian discoveries). I was Page the butler in the weird “Club”. Also liked Lone Star with Malachi Kelly & Felim Rafferty which was twinned with Laundry & Bourbon – really funny and good fun to be in when you saw and heard the response from the audience. I guess that’s key – if the audience enjoys what they are seeing then that makes it worth while.
ACHIVEMENTS on ‘STAGE’; No particular achievements. Just enjoy the whole process.
Chocolates or Cakes; Neither any more (aren’t I good)
Meat or Veg; Both – boring.
Fruit or fry; Strawberries but not fried.
Tipple or Dry; Now and again.
ENTERTAIN or be ENTERTAINED; I love to be entertained but will leave/switch off if it’s dire. I also like to entertain, as long as the audience is enjoying what they are seeing/hearing. – which is not always.
EMBARRISING STAGE MOMENTS; Plenty of cockups but who hasn’t.
I think scariest back stage moment was in my second production, recruited by James Lamb for a wee part in the almost all girl “Factory Girls”. I did not know what a Festival Play was but before I knew it we were heading for the Ulster Finals in the Opera House (no thanks to me I would add). Terrifying prospect. I remember looking out the dressing room window onto Great Victoria Street 15 minutes until curtain up and preying for either a bomb or at the very least a damn good bomb scare. The odds of either in 1988 were fairly good but alas not to be. I survived the ordeal on stage but was more wary of Mr Lamb’s offers of a small wee part in future.
Also, on a par in the “terror stakes” – when the prompt (can’t quite remember her name) went AWOL during the first Act of Pentecost in a Drama Festival in darkest Monaghan or Cavan. It’s amazing how 15 seconds wracking your brain for the next line whilst preying for a line from the prompt (who’d STILL gone AWOL) whilst trying to appear calm and in control to the audience and Adjudicator, can feel like TEN minutes!
FAVOURITE AUTHOR /PLAYWRIGHT; Still like Dickens. Don’t read/see enough plays.
FAVOURITE BEDTIME READ; Whatever I am reading during the day. I have no problem carrying it upstairs at night as long as it’s not too heavy.
FAVOURITE MUSIC CHOICE; Still in a 1960’s “bubble” but also like Nick Cave, Keith Jarrett. Usually something depressing/maudlin will do.
BOOK/PLAY/FILM recommendations; I love books, particularly modern American fiction – Donna Tart/John Updike. Resisted joining Book Club for years ( “I’m not going to read books someone else tells me to read”) Gave in 2 years ago and have been proved a prick – recent good ones I would never have read – Golden Hill by Francis Spufford, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead….oh and my first ever Sci-fi, Rejuvination by Byddi Lee!!!
Don’t watch enough plays to recommend anything but the National Theatre Live screenings are generally good (The Lehman Trilogy was fantastic) plus they won’t need “social distancing” at Craigavon Omniplex when they re-open as only about 8 people turn up so you get a row to yourself – safe or what?
Films are on holiday at the moment and my attempts to have a Japanese film at ATG Film Club having been rebuffed umpteen times means I’m recommending a telly show instead – Call My Agent on Netflix – set in Paris – subtitles – funny and light….well, I liked it.
BEST HOLIDAY DESTINATION; Anywhere that leaves you with great memories.
YOUR PARTY PIECE; Just a slice of pizza I’m afraid. Best Party Piece’s observed at ATG over the years – Patricia Savage’s versions of Victoria Wood songs. Shame she emigrated……to The Cooleys!
MANTRE- RULES OF LIFE; Nothing special – Maybe try and be more tolerant, which is harder the older you get, even when someone else’s actions/behaviour drives you up the wall!
EXERCISE CHOICE; Obviously limited by body falling to bits, so, as long as I can walk that will do.
FAVOURITE FOOD/RESTAURANT; Not a foodie. Eat to keep alive.
HOPES for ATG by 2026 – Just the obvious ones – recruit some MEN and some more YOUNG ONES to keep the thing going. Not much point building these new toilets if there ain’t anyone to sit on them.
ARMAGH THEATRE GROUP QUESTIONNAIRE 2020
Name; Marie-Claire Guy
AGT Member since; since 2013 (I think) I was in my early twenties anyway.
Why did you join; Malcom Dawson and Aunty Una (Boylan) made me do it! I have a vague recollection of being auditioned by them both at a party using an enamel toothpick as a prop to sell in a Dragon’s Den style whilst being filmed on an i-pad… and you needn’t laugh Malcolm Dawson you were wearing a big ginger wig.
1st Production; Two
1st producer/director; The ever tolerant, patient and enthusiastic Kevin McEneaney bless him.
Favourite theatre performed in/visited;
It would be hard not to choose the “Gem” that is the Abbey Lane Theatre. That special moment when you are trying hard to pretend to be someone else and your mummy is sitting right under your nose. The Navan Centre has a great stage right entrance. I have a fond memory of Peter Kelly, in the reading of “Deirdre” directed by Margery Quinn, entering like Darth Vadar into the Death Star courtesy of the whoosh of the emergency exit. The very same door that Peter, Bridie and I got locked behind and couldn’t get on stage for the start.
Favourite play and part;
Favourite play for the craic was Ladies Day produced by Hilary Good. For the hard work I’d have to say “Our Lady of Sligo” directed by Kevin McEneaney, and I only had a fraction to do. Hats off Bridie! It was a great feeling to be part of that.
Biggest achievement on stage;
Loot directed by Felim Rafferty, I will never know why I didn’t just phone in sick. (Felim doesn’t either).
Chocolates or Cakes;
I could have passed up on either until lately, I suspect this won’t end well but now I’ll have both please.
Meat or Veg;
Still Veg, no change there
Fruit or Fry; Yup, fruit.
To entertain or be entertained;
Entertain, I probably wasn’t that much of a Theatre goer until I joined ATG. I do enjoy watching from the wings. I think that is my favourite place to be.
Most embarrassing stage moment;
It has to be Our Town and hollering out the wrong line at the full dress rehearsal. I am sorry to all I distracted but Gerry McGrath needed his braces re-attached and the cue was really like the one where I supposed to holler out that line… honest Gov, it wasn’t my fault. Oh, and there was the one during Loot when, mid proposal scene between Malachi and I, someone switched on the interval Music. Was that a hint? ‘cause I didn’t take it.
Favourite author/ Playwright;
Thomas Hardy, he does such dark stuff to his characters. I do love Jane Eyre so maybe I should get around to reading more Charlotte Bronte.
Book at your bedside;
Caught I don’t have one. If I don’t crash as soon as my head hits the pillow I trawl through images of paintings on my i-pad. I do have a bag with all my old scripts right beside the bedside table. Does that count?
Favourite Music choice;
Now this is hard. I enjoy such a variety, classical music, 80’s and 90’s stuff, 1970s, Earth, Wind and Fire, Quincy Jones and Nile Rodgers’ music. It’s hard to beat the music you take part in though. I’ve battered out music in a few different forms, pants at all of them but the fun I have had, so that’s my favourite music.
Best Holiday destination; San Juan De Los Terreros, just like Donegal but there’s a big yellow ball in the sky.
Your party piece;
We’ll no go there, it’s not pretty and not to be encouraged.
Mantra- rules of life;
In the words of Len “And of course you can’t become if you only say what you would have done, so I missed a million miles of fun”
Think about it, yes. Talk about it, a bit, but for goodness sake do it.
It will have to be film. I watch a lot of films so again it’s hard to choose. I think the Michael Caine/Lawrence Olivier screen version of “Sleuth” started the attraction. I love the acting in “Thelma and Louise” there’s not a bad actor in it. Christopher McDonald who plays Thelma’s husband is just brilliant. I can’t not mention “Rosemary’s Baby” I watch it nearly every weekend.
Walking. Great way to learn lines. Load them up in your head and go.
Chinese on a Friday night with Beer or Cava or both.
Hopes for ATG by 2026;
That it will continue to provide joy, laughter, tears, inspiration, embarrassing moments, first plays, favourite plays, fear of Jesus, first directors, favourite theatre and friends like you will find nowhere else by 2026 and beyond. Sod the toilet for back stage…that element keeps you on your toes for the performances.
Marie-Claire caught impersonating an Amature actor . Scene from Good Thing's by Liz Lochhead along with Aileen and Hubby Charlie 2018
This week’s puzzle is of Armagh Railway Station. With its Greek arches it stood majestic and secure, close to the site of present day Philip
Ironic that a tyre company whose stock- in –trade (car industry) was the major reason why the railway line closed in the 1950’s.
In our play ‘IMPACT’ the building was the hub of excitement on 14 June 1889 as hundreds gathered for the day trip to Warrenpoint.
Afterward it was used for the Great Northern Railway enquiry into the incident which took the lives of at least 89 people and injured hundreds.
Sombre subject but I decided to keep things local as our international supporters were getting to be a pain in the neck (All the translating…)
Winner last week Byddi Lee at under 38 mins (So she says)
ARMAGH THEATRE GROUP 2020 QUESTIONNAIRE : advice before you start reading Kevin's bio boil the kettle, get comfy and enjoy.
NAME: Kevin McEneaney
Second Level Teacher. I taught in St. Macartan's College, Monaghan, my old Alma Mater for 39 years. I taught English, sometimes Irish and manners!
ATG MEMBER SINCE;
Why DID YOU JOIN?
I had moved from Monaghan in 1984 and after being deeply involved as Chairperson of Monaghan Dramatic Society, I was delighted if a little apprehensive, when Margery Quinn asked me to get involved. As it turned out ATG became a very important part of my life in Armagh. Thank you Margery. Imagine! It took me 35 years to say thanks.
My first venture on stage, as an adult, was with Monaghan Dramatic Society and the play was "The Honey Spike" by Bryan McMahon. It was easy to get a part in that play as there seemed to be a cast of hundreds. I was a really "brilliant" B Special!! That play taught me the power of Drama. Some of the audience were inconsolable. We had to bring the expectant mother, who had "died" offstage in childbirth, into the auditorium before we could convince several of those weeping that she had not really died.
As a teacher of English I had tremendous freedom to involve my students in Drama both in class and on stage. One play I really enjoyed directing was "Us and Them", a small one act by David Compton, where all thirty pupils in First or Second Year could get involved and did they not enjoy it! especially the knocking down of the dividing wall at the end. I'm still not convinced that "Good fences make good neighbours" or that "Good neighbours make good fences"!
I was committed to promoting drama in a footballing orientated College and with others collaborated in producing many plays like "Philadelphia here I come", O'Casey's Trilogy, "Macbeth" and many more.
In Monaghan I directed "The Patrick Pearse Motel" by Hugh Leonard.
With ATG I have directed or produced "Two", "Slices of Life" and of course "Our Lady of Sligo" by Sebastian Barry . When I met Sebastian at the Dalkey Book Festival I told him I was contemplating directing this particular play. He asked me if I had a Mai. When I told him I had someone with an almost infinite capacity for and dedication to learn lines and someone who could cry on stage he wished me well. Stand up Bridie Heaney!
Kevin and Emily featuring in “Slices of Life”
I have been to plays in New York, London, Dublin. Belfast, Cork etc., but none of them with their revolving stages and state of the art lighting and sound systems could hold a candle to Abbey Lane Theatre. Location, location, location and atmosphere.
FAVOURITE PART :
I really enjoyed my part in "The White Headed Boy" directed by Malcolm Dawson even if I opened Act 2, walked on and forgot my words only to be rescued by Hilary Good.
"44 Sycamore" with the barking dogs and being shoved halfway out the window to be "bitten" by the canines will stay in my mind.
Filming "All's Well that Ends Well" (not the Shakespearean version) written and directed by Conor Toner and found on You Tube was a different dramatic experience which I enjoyed.
However playing the 17 year old boy when I was 34 in "Da" by Hugh Leonard in a little purpose-built theatre in The Hillgrove Hotel, Monaghan, gave me a real feel for drama and was probably my favourite part. Maybe it suited my mental age!
BIGGEST ACHIVEMENT ON STAGE:
In 1972 I played the young lover in Brian Friel's play "Lovers" in Monaghan and in 2009 I played the elderly lover in the same play in Armagh. Brian Friel told me that he hadn't met anyone who had played both parts in his play. I loved that play.
MOST EMBARRASSING STAGE MOMENTSt:
That's easy to remember. May 2000 "The Risen People" directed by Margery. I felt good in the part of the Priest, counterpoint to Big Jim Larkin, socialist and Trade Union Leader. Thursday night went well, Friday night went well. Saturday morning I had no voice, I couldn't speak. This was communicated to Margery and Roisín White nursed me with various concoctions all day. Saturday night in a packed Market Place I joined the cast. Going well but then the counterpoint scene arrived; Larkin on one box, myself all dressed in collar and soutane surrounded by my followers on another -----------
- nothing, no voice, silence. I don't know why but I turned my back to the audience, muttered "London" "Liverpool" etc., and frantically gesticulated. Perspiring desperately I summoned up all the strength I could muster, turned back to the audience and somehow, somehow, the words came. Embarrassing or what?! As far as I know "The Risen People" was the first amateur production in the Market Place so I think I can safely claim the dubious distinction of being the first amateur to "dry" on that stage.
SAVOURY or SWEET
As number nine in a family of eleven children there was very little scope for choice. Eat what was on your plate or starve. I can eat almost anything. I profess to be a savoury person but please do not let me near an open box of chocolates because they will not last too long.
ENTERTAIN OR BE ENTERTAINED:
I seem to be a poor audience person. I find it difficult to sit for a long period. I much prefer to entertain and I have to admit audiences are very very tolerant at times.
FAVOURITE AUTHOR or PLAYWRIGHT;
My favourite playwright has to be Brian Friel. I really love his work but didn't like Meryl Streep as Kate Mundy in the film"Dancing at Lughnasa". I thought it was a bridge too far.
I love most music Folk, Traditional and Light classical in particular. Leonard Cohen, Roy Orbison and Fats Domino are my favourites. I really enjoy nearly all musicals from "Oklahoma", "Sound of Music", "My Fair Lady", "Les Miserables","The Student Prince" etc. - am I a softie? I still can't fathom Rap. In particular I love to sing and join in with our own musicians like Peter Kelly, Eoin Ó Ceallaigh and John McDonald.
BEST HOLIDAY DESTINATION; (S)
Cruising down the Mekong Delta
No, not the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Tanzania or Ethiopia, all of which were fantastic, but Vietnam. I have to admit that I have only a limited capacity for lying on a beach. I'm more into experiences and my trip from north to south of Vietnam with my daughter ticked all the boxes.
Practically a local in Hanoi
YOUR PARTY PIECE:
I practise the ukulele and the guitar at home and I sound amazing! Somehow when I perform in public it never seems up to scratch.
MANTRA- RULES OF LIFE:
Stop looking over your shoulder at what others have or what others are doing. Get on with living your life but not at the expense of others.
PLAY/ FILM RECOMMENDATION:
"Tarry Flynn" performed in the Gaiety in Dublin was spectacular as was "The White Headed Boy" starring Mikel Murfi who played about five different parts. We all enjoyed the same actor performing in The Market Place. Who could forget him in his own play "The Man in the Woman's Shoes"?
One of the best films I ever saw was the 1964 film "Becket" starring Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. I also enjoyed "The King's Speech" and "Bohemian Rhapsody".
I used to enjoy golf in good weather but alas no more. Now I content myself with gardening. I hate walking along the road because of the litter on the roads and in the hedges. I do enjoy walking the beach even in inclement weather.
A bit like Yeats who suggested that as we grow older we should exercise the mind and soul a bit more; We are
"A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing"
In an attempt to exercise the mind I have taken up Bridge. I am still in the early stages, the very early stages of learning Bridge. I may be mathematically inept but I don't intend to let this challenge beat me.
All food. And, I can't stand Americans who spend their time talking about food.
HOPES FOR ATG by 2026:
God only knows what life will be like in six years. Will we still be socially isolating? That might mean we could have an audience of six to eight people. Perish the thought. I am much more optimistic than that. The ATG community is an extremely creative one and even when the likes of James Lamb, a bit like myself, moves stage left, someone always fills those shoes and I look forward to seeing new talent come centre stage with new ideas, new techniques and a renewed dedication. I hope that they continue and develop the tradition of song, dance, laughter and the spoken word. Step forward New Faces
Over this past few weeks of lockdown we have been sending out to our supporters email list the link to Armagh Theatre Group's Jigsaw challenge via Planet Jigsaw. These all depict view/scenes related to productions from Abbey Lane over the recent years. Some are easy 50 piece, others not so easy.
AND be in with a chance of Champion Puzzler for the week!
Good luck and keep safe. https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=02528cddaceb
ARMAGH THEATRE GROUP QUESTIONNAIRE 2020
NAME; Madeleine Kelly
JOB/CARRER; Retired Civil Servant
ATG MEMBER SINCE; 1966
WHY DID YOU JOIN ;
After an unsuccessful course at University, I was living and working at home and most of my friends had moved on. Armagh Theatre Group had just had a very successful production of Our Town so I decided to join in order to meet new people (men) and have something different in my life.
1st PRODUCTION; The Crucible
1st PRODUCER/DIRECTOR; Larry Ryan
FAVOURITE THEATRE TO PERFORM IN:
Abbey Lane Theatre Armagh has great atmosphere and challenges. Plays are always great fun to participate in with the audience almost on the stage with the actors.
FAVOURITE PART IN A PLAY;
It is hard to decide this as every part presents its own challenge. As I have already said The Crucible was the first play in which I participated and I really thought it was wonderful. I still do, and I have seen several productions of it, the most recent being on Broadway New York. It still made the hairs stand on the back of my neck even after all these years.
BIGGEST STAGE ACHIVEMENT;
Performing in Adam’s Children, which was a dance drama, with two broken bones in my left foot. The plaster on my leg was removed in the dressing room, I was given a local anaesthetic and the foot was strapped up and away we went.
CHOCOLATE or CAKES; Yes please
MEAT OR VEG; Yes please
FRUIT or FRY; All the time
ENTERTAIN or be ENTERTAINED; Enjoy both
MOST EMBARRISING STAGE MOMENT;
I forgot to put out a bottle of whiskey for Bridie when we were staging A Streetcar Named Desire. How she continued I will never know. Anyone else would have left the stage, but Bridie is such a trouper she managed. Once again many apologies Bridie.
FAVOURITE PLAYWRIGHT or AUTHOR; Arthur Miller/ Sebastian Barry
BEDSIDE BOOK; Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
FAVOURITE MUSIC; Abbey Road by the Beatles
BEST HOLIDAY DESTINATION; I love Italy, but Donegal comes a very close second.
YOUR PARTY PIECE; Still trying to find one
MANTRA- RULES of LIFE; Still trying to find them as well.
Sebastian Barry’s Steward of Christendom was one of the best plays I have ever seen.
EXERCISE CHOICE; Walking doesn’t cost anything, can be as long or as short as you want, and can be done anywhere.
FAVOURITE FOOD; Bread and Butter
HOPES FOR ATG by 2026: That it will still be here full of new and enthusiastic members, with some of us old fogies still around to enjoy it!!!
Robinson Library, Armagh, Georgian Day 2016 Madeleine reading from the Bronte sisters
Thought for the day;
IF you think the art of conversation is dead... join a Drama group.