This weekend I had the honour to be the adjudicator of the Dublin One-Act Drama Festival.
What does that involve? Well, I watched nine plays over three days and then talked about them and finally awarded marks and trophies. It was well organised and friendly, an excellent showcase for the work.
This is part of an annual autumn festival that takes place all over Ireland (Northern Ireland included) and ends with a weekend of finals at which the All-Ireland Winner is announced.
It’s a fantastic event for amateur performers because they get to perform at several festivals and see work from other companies. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and Irish hospitality being what it is, you are fed and watered before you perform and often meet up later in the pub. Sometimes it has been known to involve a little drinking, singing, and high spirits!
The winners were from a town called Corofin in western Ireland. Their play Two was performed by two actors who brilliantly delivered a range of believable characters with an ending that would break your heart as we discovered their seeming hatred of each other covered the loss of their young son.
A few years ago Jenny and I were delighted to be invited to the President of Ireland’s official residence – Áras an Uachtaráin. There we met with hundreds of representatives of amateur drama groups from across the country.
The President Michael D Higgins made a speech, in which he said Gaelic sports (football and hurling) and amateur theatre were two of the most highly valued factors in building a sense of local community. There is a great sense of rivalry and wanting to win but there is also that lovely Irish saying of “fair play to you” in recognising when someone else has done a good job. It’s generous-spirited and gives a chance for people to travel the highways and byways and helps to raise standards.
So I’ll sign off now before I have to use another Irish saying as I don’t want to “lose the run of meself.”