THERE is jubilation in amateur drama circles throughout Limerick this week following the success of Shoestring Theatre Company from Charleville who won the coveted Abbey Theatre Award at this year’s All Ireland Drama Festival.
And as part of their award, the cast of four Martin Hennessy, William Lyons, Katie Holly and Ger Liston, with their director Kevin O’Shea and a full crew will be heading to Dublin next week where they will perform their production of Trad by Mark Doherty over three nights at the Abbey Theatre itself.
“To get to the Abbey, the national theatre, for an amateur theatre company is fantastic. It’s a bit like, in tennis, being asked to play in Wimbledon,” Kevin O’Shea said after the award was announced.
He was particularly pleased because the award, reinstated five years ago, is judged by the theatre itself and Fiach MacConghail, the artistic director presented the prize. “It more than makes up for not coming first. I’m delighted for the lads. I am gifted with a great cast and crew.”
Already, online booking is moving fast and next week’s three-night run promises to be a sell-out. The company has been asked to put on a matinée performance on Saturday, May 23, Mr O’Shea revealed less than 48 hours after the win was announced.
But last Saturday night in Athlone was a night of double-wins for Shoestring, as cast member Ger Liston took the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Fr Rice.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all but I am delighted,” Ger told the Limerick Leader. “I knew the adjudicator had liked the piece but I didn’t know I would get the award.”
For Ger, who has been a serious actor in amateur drama circles for over 20 years, the win was doubly sweet. “It was my first ever time appearing in Athlone and my first win at national level,” he said, adding that the award was a beautiful crafted piece of bog oak.
Ger, who is an executive engineer with Limerick City and County Council, took his first steps on stage with the Monagea Light Entertainment group, but he was a founder member of the Ardagh Drama Group in 1992, winning several acting awards with them. He has also performed with Torch Players and with Shoestring Theatre Company.
But he is very much looking forward to treading the boards in the Abbey Theatre. “We are representing amateur drama now in the Abbey. It is a big thing.”
Shoestring’s lighting crew, Brendan Normile from Castlemahon and Matt Lyons, almost made it a hat-trick for the company but were pipped at the post for the best lighting award.
To get to Athlone, Shoestring Theatre had to secure three wins on the festival circuit,But the script was, according to director Kevin O’Shea, one of the most exciting scripts ever undertaken by the company.
Shoestring will perform in the Abbey on May 21, 22 and 23 but Kevin O’Shea recommends that people should book online and quickly. The lighting and stage crew will travel to Dublin in advance while the cast will travel up on May 21. “We will walk the stage, going through a couple of scenes to get used to the stage,” Ger revealed. The Perpetual Trophy was won by The Palace Players, Fermoy with their production of Conversations on a Homecoming by Tom Murphy.