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Blue TeapotÕs unique take on Shakespeare comedy

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Date Published: {J}

You won’t see anything like this anywhere else this year,” says Kathy Murphy, administrator of Blue Teapot Theatre, about the company’s new production of Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream which runs in the city from June 18-26.

She’s right. Blue Teapot, which is 14 years in existence, has a troupe of nine actors with learning disabilities, who have staged many previous productions as well as taking part in Galway’s St Patrick’s Day Parades and last year’s Volvo Ocean Race opening ceremonies.

The cast has been in rehearsal for this show – where the worlds of fairies and humans collide in a tale of mischief, magic and love – for several months under the directorship of Petal Pilley, who has worked with companies including Footsbarn and Macnas and has extensive experience of community drama.

Blue Teapot was established under the auspices of the Brothers of Charity and with its first producer/director Niamh Dillon, it established a reputation as a place where people with learning difficulties could go to explore their creativity through drama.

Under Niamh’s stewardship, they performed in the Special Olympics and staged shows from their base at the Holy Family School in Renmore, as well as having a strong community element.

When Niamh moved on and Petal took over as director she felt that a city centre venue would allow Blue Teapot to become more integrated into Galway’s artistic community. Now Blue Teapot is based in Munster Avenue in the former Silke’s Fruit and Vegetable market and its core actors are professional in the sense that they get paid for performances. There’s a community and drama programme called Bright Soul, which runs on Monday nights, involving about 18 people with members regularly taking part in street parades and community events.

“We are constantly adding to the Munster Avenue space, to make it more viable, not just for us but to work in conjunction with other groups and organisations,” explains Kathy. “It’s a home to us, but we want other members of the arts community to know it’s not exclusive. We already have a Storynight there and we are talking about a few other collaborations.”

For the actors, it’s liberating to be in a space that is primarily about theatre and where people are recognised purely on the basis of talent, she says.

“It’s a place where they can learn and let talent blossom and are given the time to do that; to learn in their own way.”

Recently the actors completed a FETAC Level Three module in Performing Arts, involving drama, music, dance, mask making, lighting, sound and other stagecraft “because we felt it was important that the actors knew what it was all about and could see what interested them”, says Kathy.

“Drama is the primary focus of the group, but all the other training helps them enhance their talent, as it does with any actor; it’s their drama school.

“We are setting up a Performing Arts School in September because there is a need to. If the opportunity is there, people will come to it.” That’s happening in September.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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