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Claregalway Festival of Drama 2024 has an all-star group of performances ready to take their place at the Festival.

This year as always Claregalway Community Centre will be turned into its usual fabulous theatre style auditorium.

The first production on Friday March 15th at 8pm is “Alone it Stands” by John Breen, brought to Claregalway for the festival opening by Balally Players. This play tells the tale of Munster Rugby Team’s legendary victory over New Zealand’s mighty All Blacks in Thomond Park, Limerick in 1978. In the play six actors play 62 roles including the Munster team, the Kiwis, the two coaches, the ref, the crowd, the press, a pregnant woman, several children…and even a dog and is a night not to be missed.

On Saturday night, March 16th is the compelling ‘Ecliped’ by Patricia Burke Brogan, by the Ray Leonard Players. Outlined by a present day prologue and epilogue, the play is set in 1963 in a convent laundry at St. Paul’s Home for Penitent Women in Killmacha. Eclipsed explores the poignant and sometimes humorous story of young pregnant, unwed mothers consigned to work as ‘penitents’ in church-run laundries. Supervised by nuns, these women were treated as virtual slaves and their infants were forcibly put up for adoption. After seeing the goings on in the laundries as a young novice, playwright Patricia Burke Brogan decided to highlight the plight of these women. Eclipsed was one of the first plays to tell the story of the Magdalene Laundries.

On the night of St. Patrick’s Day Holycross Ballycahill Drama Group are back to entertain the audience with their production of ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ by Brian Friel. Dancing at Lughnasa is a widely-celebrated play about five courageous, good-hearted women who attempt to fight their fate with extraordinary resilience.

On Monday March 18th Sliabh Aughty Drama Group bring their production of ‘Same Old Moon’ by Geraldine Acton. This comedic and, at times, poignant play shows us scenes in the life of Brenda Barnes, an aspiring writer. We follow her from age nine to fortyish, and see through her eyes her eccentric and sometimes fiery Irish family; her willful and self-destructive Dad, her put-upon and sometimes hot-tempered Mum..and many others.

On Tuesday March 19th Harvest Moon Theatre Group come to Claregalway with their production of ‘Now and Then’ by Sean Grennan, adapted by John Corless. This play was originally set in an Irish bar in Chicago in 1981. A young barman, Jamie, is closing up one night, when an older man comes in for a quick one. What happens that night, may, or may not, change the course of Jamie’s life. This is a story about love, following your drams (or not) and the costs of the decisions we make.

On Wednesday March 20th Dunmore Amateur Dramatic Society (DADS) present ‘Faith Healer’ by Brian Friel. This play tells the story of Frank Hardy, his wife Grace, and his manager Teddy, who traverse rural Wales and Scotland, offering Frank’s unique gift to people in need. Over the course of four monologues, the story of their shared life together is revealed in conflicting, haunting, and devastating accounts. Their stories weave together to form a spellbinding narrative in this masterpiece of modern theatre.

On Thursday March 21st Clann Machua Drama Group bring their production of ‘Stolen Child’ by Yvonne Quinn an Bairbre Ní Chaoimh. Stolen Child is a humorous and moving story of a woman adopted at birth who enlists the help of a colourful private detective to search for her “birth” mother. Her search takes us all on a fascinating journey as she uncovers the secrets of her family history and a fascinating exploration of one of the darkest chapters in the history of modern Ireland. Set in 1990, Stolen Child is a beautifully written play that will make you laugh and cry and stay in your memory long after you leave the theatre.

On Friday March 22nd Phoenix Players Tubbercurry bring their exciting production of ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell, adapted by Ian Wooldridge. Not happy with the way they are being treated, and exploited, the animals of Manor Farm decide to revolt, expel their owner, Mr Jones, and take over the running of the farm themselves. Based on George Orwell’s classic tale satirising the perils of Stalinism, it is a parable about totalitarianism anywhere, anytime.

On Saturday March 23rd Dalkey Players will close the Festival with their production of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. The Crucible tells the story of one man’s fight to save his identity in a repressive Puritan community where intolerance collides with lust and superstition, fuelling widespread hysteria with tragic results. Written more than 60 years ago, the Crucible speaks to our modern times so clearly. Every day we are witness to the horrors of terror and persecution and Miller’s play is both profoundly chilling and also deeply hopeful.