Ascent to the All Ireland

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SHANNONside Drama, established four years ago, has shot to the top layer of the amateur drama circuit. Its production of Helena Enright’s play Less Than a Year is pitched for the All Ireland One Act Drama Festival 2008, taking place this weekend (Dec 5-7) in Tobercurry, Sligo.

It’s an impressive achievement for a recently formed group, especially in the light of this play’s two directors Edward Dillon and Eilis Casey also taking the roles of Less Than a Years’ two characters.

They are the Mother and Father who present their story of the slow death of their teenage daughter from cancer. Island Theatre Company was first to stage the play for Limerick born Enright and its concisely worded anguish made it memorable work. Enright crafted the work from her interviews with a family who had lost their 13-year-old and it is theatre of testimony – every word is as spoken by these people whose identities are protected.

A tough act for Shannonside?

“It is so harrowing, and they have to do it again and again and again. And they get it right,” says PRO Pauline Moloney. “Less Than a Year is dramadocumentary, in which the actors address the audience directly. We qualified on the amateur drama circuit in specific, adjudicated venues at Birr, Killmallock, Haulbowline and Doonbeg. Shannonside Drama Group, this being our first time to reach the All Ireland, is competing against five in the Confined section, and another six plays compete against each other in the Open section”.

Up against the best talent in the country at amateur level, Edward Dillon wants to stage the play in the Mid West once the festival drama season is over. Limerick should get to see this contemporary Irish play interpreted finely by local players.