Portumna Players

News Updates

Cough Water (July 2010)
Sive Review (April 2010)
Sive - Portumna Players Spring Production 2010
The Mai Review (December 2009)
The Mai - Portumna Players Winter Production 2009
Spreading The News (September 2009)
Stags and Hens Review (March 2009)
Stags and Hens Programme
Portumna Players Brief History

News Updates

04 December 2013

Portumna Players Present 'Mirror Mirror' and 'Dating Hamlet'
Portumna Players present a night light comedy with "Mirror, Mirror" and "Dating Hamlet" by Bruce Kane and directed by Marian Frawley on Sunday 15th December at 9pm in The Arch House, St. Brendan St., Portumna. Admission €5 (children must be accompanied by an adult). Join us along for some pre-Christmas cheer.

24 October 2013

Annual General Meeting
The AGM of Portumna Players Drama Group will take place on Tuesday, 29th October at 8.30 pm in the Loft (Town Hall). New members are especially welcome. Come along and bring a friend.

29 August 2013

Drama at Portumna Castle
Portumna Players will premier a new humorous sketch, Café Conversations, written by Greg O'Connor at Portumna's Culture Night event on Friday, Sept 20th. Due to restricted seating at Portumna Castle, it will be admission by ticket only. You can be certain of your seat by picking up a free pass for from Café Rose from next week.

Portumna's Half-Day Thursday Drama Group directed by Jim Hynes is presenting J.M.Synge's "Riders to The Sea" with guest, piper Ger Fahy on Saturday Sept 21st. The performances of this will take place at Portumna Castle at 5pm. You can be certain of your seat by picking up a free pass from Portumna Dairy Services (Tim & Liam Walsh) from next week onwards. Tickets are limited so get your ticket in time or call 087 296 6767.

08 May 2013

'The Plough and the Stars'
Two weeks ago the Portumna Players drama group staged Sean O Casey's classic play "The Plough and the Stars". It was directed by Declan Kelly and had a cast of sixteen. This play is over four acts and has numerous scene changes. Students from Portumna Community Schools Transition Year appeared both on stage and behind the scenes; erecting sets, painting, sound and lighting. Writers such as O Casey, Arthur Miller, Tom Murphy and others are influenced and moulded by the time and place in which they are born and reared.

The material for O Casey's plays came from his own life experiences. He was born in Dublin on the 30 March 1880; at this time Ireland was ruled from Westminster and was a British colony. As a young man he got involved in Irelands political and cultural life. He was a member of the Gaelic League, He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The arrival of Jim Larkin in Dublin changed O Casey's life. Larkin set up a trade union movement in Ireland, O' Casey began to abandoned all religious, cultural and republican organizations in favour of socialism. The great lock-out of 1913, which saw thousands of Dublin manual workers in opposition to the bosses controlling the transport and distribution industries and services, showed O'Casey that the cause of labour took precedence over the cause of Irish freedom. O' Casey while admiring the courage of those who fought in 1916 saw the project as a waste of life and effort. He blamed Connolly for deviating the cause of labour into a nationalist struggle. Combining his time growing up in Dublin amongst the poor and his involvement in various organizations at the time of the Easter Rising he wrote three plays about that period. The plays were Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars. These are concerned with the experiences and the reactions of Dublin tenement dwellers during the time of civil war.

The play has four acts and each act has a different story to tell. In Act one the audience enter the Clitheroe living room and are introduced to many of the characters of the play. Act two is the Public House scene and the figure in the window is introduced, this was very well done by the excellent use of lighting. Act three features a street scene which has a well constructed red brick wall and a Georgian style door-way. It depicts the ordinary Dublin man on the street going about his business very much "on the outside": powerless and removed from the fighting of 1916. Act four is set in Bessy Burgess's flat; this scene symbolizes poverty, destitution and finality. Each set told its own story and the Portumna players portrayed these scenes in a very convincing fashion.

The Players did justice to the O'Casey play, which is a major undertaking by any amateur group. The costumes and set changes were very realistic. The use of lighting both internally and externally was well executed and convincing, as were the sound effects. Among the participants we have a peace-loving woman, a young bride, an old Irish Patriot, an ineffectual Communist, the easy going Catholic, a hymn singing drunk, a tart and the young Irish Citizen Army and young British Army Soldiers, not forgetting the bartender, young girl and posh lady from Rathmines. To all actors, backstage hands, front of house and director Declan Kelly well done.

18 April 2013

Portumna Players Present 'The Plough and the Stars'
Portumna Players will stage Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars on Thursday 25th, Friday 26th and Sunday 28th April. The curtain rises at 8pm. This is regarded as one of O'Casey's greatest plays. It is part of the Dublin trilogy, the other two being Juno and the Paycock and Shadow of a Gunman. It is the O'Casey play which tackles the greatest Irish theme, the fight for freedom. The first two acts take place in November 1915, looking forward to the liberation of Ireland. The last two acts are set during the Easter Rising, in April 1916. Declen Kelly directs the play. Declen has appeared in previous productions with the Portumna Players including Bernard Farrell's Canaries.

13 March 2013

The Plough and the Stars
Portumna Players are currently in rehearsal with Sean O Caseys The Plough and the Stars. This play is the third of his well known "Dublin Trilogy" - the other two being The Shadow of a Gunman (1923) and Juno and the Paycock (1924). Few other works can compete with this play for the status of the most important twentieth-century drama in English. The play will be staged in late April and is directed by Declan Kelly.

20 January 2013

Open Auditions
Portumna Players Drama Group are holding Open Auditions for its next production The Plough and the Stars by Sean O'Casey on Wednesday 23rd January at 8pm in the Loft, Portumna Town Hall. Help with backstage crew/sets/front of house also needed. All welcome!

29 November 2012

Success for Portumna Players
At the inaugural One Act Drama Festival, hosted by Roscrea Lions Club in Roscrea, Portumna Players staged their Shorelines Production of "The London Vertigo" an adaptation by Brian Friel. The adjudicator, Dara Carolan, an accomplished actor, director and playwright, awarded the director, Marian Frawley a special prize as most promising Director of the Festival. Marian' s prize will be a 3-day Director's Course in the Spring in the Sean O'Casey Theatre in Dublin's docklands. Well done to the Players and Portumna looks forward to more successful productions in the future.

Cough Water (July 2010)

Portumna Players Cast - Cough Water
The cast of 'Cough Water' directed by John Smith.
Pauric Ryan, Tommy Shewbridge, Mike Goode, Francis Robinson, Marie O Donnell, Mary T Hynes, Lisa Keane, Declan Kelly, Jim Hynes and in the front Eileen Purcell

Portumna Players presented Cough Water as part of the opening of Portumna's Great Outdoors Festival, July 2nd in Portumna Castle.

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Sive Review (April 2010)

Last weekend saw another successful drama production by Portumna Players. Their selection of John B Keane’s first production, Sive, proved a popular choice and attracted large audiences each night. Though 50 years on, the hard-hitting drama captured the audience from the opening scene in a cottage shared by 3 generations of the Glavin family.

Portumna Players, Sive RehersalThe elder Nanna, a pipe-smoking granny played by Mary Hynes, was a presence to behold as she commanded the fireplace. With lines like “this house is a hatchery of sin”, she is wise and knowing, hard and caring, feeble but powerful and acted with great sensitivity by Mary. Her relationship with her daughter-in-law, Mena, is played out with huge dramatic exchanges.

Mena, (Mai Ryan) is a frustrated, childless woman who came to a house inhabited by Nanna and her grandchild, Sive. Her anger and hatred spark in her eyes; her exchanges with Nanna make for riveting tension. Mai played this role superbly, moving with ease around a well-constructed set, from making bread to stewing a dinner; her pace was measured and line delivery intelligently handled. She comes into her own when her greed is exposed by the proposal of a match by seedy matchmaker, Thomasheen Sean Rua, energetically played by Steve Killeen. His seeming naivety hides a cute and evil greedy man and the actor took on this combination with great authenticity.

The girl in the match, Sive (Lisa Keane) whose loss of teenage trust in the goodness of life before us tragically, as the audience is held in suspense up to the final, horrific scene. Lisa portrayed the powerlessness and innocence this house has nurtured in her. Her chance to escape comes in the form of Liam Scuab (Fergal Coghlan). He offers a glimmer of hope, and Fergal played the youth with clarity and conviction, particularly in the final scene - a scene electrically charged with grief.

However, Sive’s spirit is almost broken by the manipulation and bullying of Mena to marry Sean Dota, an elderly farmer. In this smaller role played by Tom Shewbridge, the audience sees a seemingly harmless auld lad appear in a very neat suit, but through his quiet moves and leers, his seedy lust eventually emerges. Lost in the middle of all this drama, lives Mena’s husband and Nanna’s son, Mike, played with great understanding by Abe Kennedy. Despite the warning signs, despite his affection for Sive, his lifelong inability to make a choice or decision sees him as guilty as the greedy Mena in the final tragic events. The lighter moments in the play involve Mike and the matchmaker - here in the porter scenes, the audience get a glimpse of a likeable Mike before the women in his life wore him down.

Another vital pair in the play, almost like the Shakespearean fool, arrive in the form of Pat and Carthalawn, ably played by John Smith and Padraig Ryan as the travelling men. These two carry a sense of foreboding with their combined verses, music and percussive effects, all delivered with the correct amount of dramatic tension. Outsiders who are really inside the minds of all the characters; they state the reality and are very effective dramatic characters.

The casting, direction and production by Jim Hynes were all well thought out. The use of the large kitchen table - a huge presence in the centre of the stage - was very clever. It provided the focal point for the household chores, the seat for the carefree teenage Sive, the solid barrier between the characters, the climactic prop for the traveller, Pat, as he sweeps it to make the table into the final bed for poor Sive. Well done to all involved - on stage, backstage and front of house.
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Sive - Portumna Players Spring Production 2010

Portumna Players, Lisa Keane - SiveSive by John B Keane is the upcoming play to be staged in April by the Portumna Players. John B Keane's Sive is a story of greed, sex and bitterness, of a scheming matchmaker and a resentful woman forcing a beautiful young girl to marry an old man for money.

Sive is a young and beautiful orphan who lives with her uncle Mike, his wife Mena and his mother Nanna. A local matchmaker, Thomasheen Sean Rua, convinces Mike and Mena to organise the marriage of Sive to an old man called Sean Dota for the sum of two hundred pounds. However, Sive is in love with a young man, Liam Scuab, who is deemed unsuitable for her. Distraught, forced to do the will of her uncle and his bitter wife, and faced with an unthinkable future, Sive takes the only choice left to her...

Set against the harsh poverty and difficult times of 1950s Ireland, Sive caused considerable controversy on its debut in February 1959. Since then it has become an established part of Ireland’s theatrical canon and is also featured on this year’s Leaving Certificate syllabus.

The cast line up is as follows:

Nanna Glavin - Mary Hynes
Mena Glavin - Mai Ryan
Sive - Lisa Keane
Thomasheen Sean Rua - Steve Killeen
Mike Glavin - Abe Kennedy
Liam Scuab - Fergal Coughlan
Sean Dota - Tommy Shrewbridge
Pats Bocock - John Smith
Carthalawn - Pauric Ryan

Sive by John B. Keane being staged by Portumna Players
in the Town Hall Portumna on Friday 16th, Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th April at 8.30pm.

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The Mai Review (December 2009)

Portumna Players produced Marina Carrs “The Mai” prior to Christmas which was directed by Marian Frawley. The play deals with the ups and downs of one family who live in the midlands and the West of Ireland. It spans 4 generations and relives their lives over two summers. The conversations and stories of seven women, the history of a family and their broken and cruel love is remembered, recounted and re-lived by The Mai's eldest daughter Millie played by Breda Burke, who fuses past and present, history and lore, into a story as intimate, unique, disturbing, affectionate and recognisable as all family stories. The matriarch of the family is the 100 year old Grandma Friachalan superbly played by Johanna Burke, whose obsession with the “five fingered fisherman” left an indelible mark on her off spring.

Robert, the Mai’s cellist husband of 21 years was portrayed excellently by Derek Frawley, the role of Robert was one of Dereks most challenging as he had to show the awkardness and uneasiness of his return to Owl Lake after an absence of 4 years, the reunion does not go well, and with the rest of the family meddling in his life the reunion stood no chance of surviving, consequently it leads to a tragic end.

Becks and Connie the Mai’s sisters were played by Marie O Donnell and Mairead Taylor respectively. Of the two sisters, Beck is the more frustrated, taking to a short-lived marriage just 'to raise herself a little in everyone's estimation.' Connie on the other hand longs for 'the old days way back before we discovered men.' The two aunts Agnes and Julie ”The Connemara Clique” are lovely parts, the “holier than thou” always disapproving roles were played by Eileen Purcell and Marie Gunning, both seasoned actresses and wonderful in the parts. They were the conscience of the family always correct and had no time for the changes that were coming in their world.

The main character The Mai is an accomplished, beautiful forty-year-old woman, and was a challenging role for Mary Lynch, it was her first major part and she was perfect in the role, Mary has come on in leaps and bounds over the last number of years. The Mai who sets about building a dream house in the hope that Robert will one day return to her, sits by the window looking out on Owl Lake waiting for her prince to come home.

The players wish to thank everyone who attended the performanances, considering the weather conditions and hope to see you in the Spring.

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The Mai - Portumna Players Winter Production 2009

Portumna Players Cast - The Mai The Players are staging Marina Carr’s “The Mai” the weekend of 11th and 12th Dec and the 18th and 20th Dec Director is Marian Frawley. This play is one of Marina Carr’s finest works; she is from County Offaly and is recognized internationally as one of the finest playwrights of her generation. The play is a haunting tragedy and centers on the story of The Mai, a forty-year-old woman who is struggling to save her marriage. When her estranged husband Robert returns to the new house she has built by Owl Lake, her deep love for him is tested once again. Their daughter Millie narrates this dark and sometimes comical story as she recalls The Mai and Robert's tumultuous relationship and the legend of Owl Lake.

Four generations of The Mai's family gather in her new house as she desperately succumbs to the obsession and madness that is so prevalent amongst the women around her.

The matriarch, an opium smoking 100 year old Grandma Fraochlan, herself pining for her nine fingered fisherman, fails to realise the effect her own neurosis has had on the family. The women march blindly on as their legacy once again reveals itself - with tragic results.

The cast line up is as follows:

Mary Lynch - The Mai
Johanna Burke - Grandma Fraochlan
Derek Frawley - Robert
Breda Burke - Millie
Marie O Donnell - Beck
Mairead Taylor - Connie
Marie Gunning - Julie
Eileen Purcell - Agnes

Directed by Marian Frawley

The Portumna Players are staging Marina Carrs “The Mai” Friday 11th, Saturday 12th, Friday 18th and Sunday 20th December at 8.30pm in Portumna Town Hall.

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Spreading The News (September 2009)

Portumna Players Cast - Spreading The News
The cast of 'Spreading The News' at Portumna Castle.
Back Row: Tommy Shrewbridge, Johanna Burke, Steve Killeen, Francis Robinson, Tommy Madden
Front Row: Jim Hynes, Pauric Ryan, David Dalton, John Smith Jnr, Mary Lynch, Eileen Purcell.

Portumna Players presented Lady Gregory's One Act Play - "Spreading The News" as part of the Shorelines Arts Festival on Saturday, Sept 19th in Portumna Castle.

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Stags and Hens Review (March 2009)

The Portumna Players staged Willy Russell’s “Stags and Hens” play over the weekend and played to packed houses on the 3 nights. The play was updated to the present time and the setting is a Bar/Dancehall - complete with dodgy lights, smoky rooms and drunken revellers. A stag do is in full swing and following a curry - the lads decide to hit the pub. The only problem is the girls are in the same dive. Marian Frawley directed the play and as is her want did a terrific job.

Portumna Players Cast - girls The cast- Marie O Donnell played the role of the bride-to-be and she was excellent, this was her first time on stage. Bernadette the “Dictator” was played by Mairead Taylor, she has played 2 major roles in the past this was her finest to date. Mary Lynch played the drunken cry baby “Maureen” also a major part and she carried it off with great gusto. Lisa Keane was in her second role with the Players she played Carol the “Work Colleague” and like the rest she was in top form. Tory Nicholson is a local Vet during the day and appeared as “Frances” the brides “Best Friend” she also gave a great performance this was her first time on stage. The girls as a group worked well together and kept up the pace required for the parts.

Portumna Players Cast - guys John Smith Jnr played Robbie the “Ladies Man” this was Johns second part in a production by the players, he did have a part in The Field back in 1990. This character suited John very well and he played it with great aplomb. Abe Kennedy had the ideal part as he had no lines, but his “gestures and sounds” were brilliant he played Dave the “Drunken Groom” carried in at the start and carried out at the end. Derrick Frawley has played many parts over the last decade and this was one of his finest, he played Billy the “Oddball”. Padraic Ryan like Derrick has played many parts over the years from serious to comedy, he was the “Piss Artist”amongst the group he was excellent. Fergal Coughlan made his debut appearance playing Eddy the “Violent best Man” he was perfect for the role and at times was frightening, he had a great part and he played it to a tee. Michael Goode also making his first appearance played Peter “The Musician” and was very comfortable in the role, the audience loved his boots his acting was superb. Tom Madden played the work/electrical power obsessed “Roadie”, the part was small but Tom played it very well, this was also his first role, hopefully we will see more of them in future productions.

The costumes were excellent, the girls really went to town with their pink costumes and head dress, the make up by Maureen Kenny was excellent and the set was very good and imaginative.

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Stags and Hens Programme

Click the image below to view / download the programme from Stags & Hens.

Portumna Players Stags & Hens Programme

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Portumna Players Brief History

Portumna is a rural town in east Galway with a population of 2,015 at the CSO census 2006. The town is located on the shores of Lough Derg on the river Shannon. The town is steeped in history with many ancient monuments including Portumna Castle, the seat of the deBurgo’s. The nearest major towns are Galway, Limerick and Athlone all within one hours drive. It has one National School, St Brendan’s, with an enrolment of 222 pupils and a Community School with an enrolment of 431 students.

Aileen Murphy with All Ireland TrophyThe Portumna Players came into existence in 1945. Gerry Darcy, Eamon Hayes, Des and Aileen Murphy were the founding members. The reason for the society’s birth was to raise funds for the Portumna Lawn and Table Tennis Club. Their first production in 1945 was, ‘Paul Twyning’ by George Shiel. So encouraged were they by the success of the play that the Portumna Drama Group were formed. Subsequently a constitution was drawn up. The two objectives were to promote the dramatic art and to build a Little Theatre.

All Ireland Trophy They have succeeded in staging sixty-six productions in the past sixty-three years. There’s a core group of thirty-five members out of which the committee is formed. The committee appoints the director, usually from within the group. On one occasion only, a director was chosen from outside the group. In 2000 Mr Harry Smith from Athlone Drama Group directed ‘Happy Birthday Dear Alice’.

On the inception of Heritage Day 1996 a pageant was performed at Portumna Castle. This was a result of obtaining two letters written in 1924 by a local man and a collaboration with Harry Smith. The following year a re-enactment of the marriage of Patrick Sarsfield and Hanora de Burgo was performed.

Portumna Players have many achievements to date. In 1949 they competed at Scarriff Drama Festival with ‘Drama at Inish’ by Lennox Robinson. They got second place. The adjudicator was the author, who told the cast afterwards that he could not award his own play first place. Subsequently successes at festivals included three awards at Scarriff, one at Limerick one at Ballinrobe. They had the distinction of winning the first rural All-Ireland festival at Athlone in 1953 with Siggerson Cliffords ‘Nano’. In 2000 they visited Rhode Island, USA together with the Maple Poetry Group and presented ‘Sharon’s Grave’ in The Prout School Wakefield.

Photographs: Above, left - Aileen Murphy with All Ireland Trophy, Above, right - Rural All-Ireland Festival Trophy

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