St John’s Theatre & Arts Centre will host a total of seven superb and diverse dramas during Listowel Writers’ Week. The first drama will be staged on Thursday 30 May and is an adaptation by Frank Mahon of The Quiet Man. Originally a short story, and written by local writer Maurice Walsh, it was first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933, and went on to win critical acclaim as the iconic film of the same name.
The ever ebullient Joe Murphy, aka ‘Vicar Joe,’ Artistic Director of St John’s gives us his whimsical take on the up-coming productions.
The Quiet Man Thursday 30 May at 1pm
“This is an adaptation by Frank Mahon. It’s been cut back down to the basics as it’s a lunchtime show, so we’re going to do it quick and slick, with a good share of lighting and sound effects, which will get the essence of the story across.
“It’s a nice thing for people to see too, as they all think of The Quiet Man in terms of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Very often the essence of Maurice Walsh and what he was all about is lost in the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood, so it’s nice to get back to the basics of the story and the fact that it was located here in North Kerry, and is based on a true story.
“There’s the historical perspective of it, and the authenticity of it, and the kind of social dynamics that were involved at the time, so there will be an element of curiosity in it for people. I’m open to have it on the back-burner and pull it out again maybe for a night in the months of June, July and August, when people are home on their holidays and want to see a local play.
“I’m giving Bryan MacMahon and John B Keane a rest because we have those exploited to the hilt, and no doubt we will continue to do so,” he laughs, “but I think it’s important to showcase all the writers that we have here. We need to take on George Fitzmaurice and Maurice Walsh and there’s a lot you can do. Maurice Walsh didn’t write any plays but there are possibilities for adapting the work and putting it on stage. Last year I adapted two short stories by MacMahon and put them on the stage and they worked well. They were light-hearted and humorous and ‘twas nice to be able to do that, and Maurice Walsh offers further possibilities.”
“This is an old classic by Bernard Farrell, which was put on by the Listowel Drama Group about twenty-five years ago and which was a great success. The reason we’re bringing it back is that it’s nice to have a contemporary Irish playwright in the programme, and of course Bernard Farrell is notorious for his comedy. It’s being presented by Torch Players from Limerick and directed by Listowel man, Maurice O’Sullivan. Maurice has a great reputation and pedigree, as he’s taken several productions to the All Ireland Drama Festival in Athlone every year, winning many awards along the way. Every time we’ve had him we’ve had a cracking production, and this will be no exception I’d say.”
Flann’s Your Only Man Friday 31 May at 1pm
“This will be a dramatisation of readings of Flann O’Brien’s work by Val O’Donnell. Flan O’Brien is a great funny writer and this one-man show ties in very well with Listowel Writers’ Week. I remember when St John’s Theatre & Arts Centre opened in May 1990, I was an audience member at that time and one of the first shows was The Poor Mouth. It was a two-hander done by a guy from Dublin and a guy from Cavan. They did a fantastic job with a lovely set. It was so successful that it was put on again on the Monday night after Writers’ Week and people came to see it.”
“This play by Amy Conroy has won major awards and last year, was very much up there as a play to go to – a sell-out show, so it’s good to have that. A two-hander, it came out of the Fishamble New Writing Awards so it’s a good thing, as it’s a new vehicle for up-and- coming theatrical writers to display their wares.”
W.A.G. Saturday 1 June at 1pm
“W.A.G. is a new show, written and directed by former Fair City actress Gemma Doorly. I found out about the show last summer, so I invited them down and organised a bit of a tour for them. I often do a little bit of a circuit between St John’s, Kenmare, Waterville, Friarsgate and Kilmallock, Banteer and Macroom. So they came and they did the show here and it went down very well. It’s a great show – only an hour – a short one, so it’s ideal for a lunchtime theatre. I was saying to Gemma at the time that she should have a sequel to it, because it’s that type of a show. It’s a good exercise in the dynamics of a woman’s mind – if anyone has the insight into a woman’s mind,” he laughs. “Maybe a woman is best qualified to do it more than a man, but there you are!”
The Tailor and Ansty Saturday 1 June at 8.30pm
“Ronan Wilmot, a Listowel man, will be performing this with Ena May. Ronan’s been here on two occasions in the last two years with two different types of show. His father, Dr. Seamus Wilmot, was a founding member of Listowel Writers’ Week and also the Registrar of the National University of Ireland. So it’s nice to keep the link with Ronan, a professional actor working with The Abbey, The Royal Shakespeare etc. He’s coming with The Tailor and Ansty, which I’ve had here before on three or four occasions at least, but it’s always a good seller because it’s a very interesting story. It’s based on a novel by Eric Cross and was banned in Ireland for a time. It was made famous by Eamon Kelly and his wife, Maureen O’Sullivan who came from Listowel. This is obviously a newer production and should do well on the Saturday night.”
God of Carnage Sunday 2 June 8.30pm
“I saw this play on Broadway about three years ago when it won a Tony Award for Best Play. The production had James Gandolfini, who played the lead in the TV series, The Sopranos. The Americans took a straightforward, linear approach to it, but I’ll be interested to see what mischievious twists Belfast’s bart Players bring to this production.”
For more details or to book these events, please call 068 21074 or you can book online via our website.