Tara Players' entry in this year's Acting Irish International
Theatre Festival won general praise, but specific criticism of its staging,
fom the three adjudicators.
"This is a fascinating play, one I didn't know at all, and I'm very
glad I had the opportunity . . . to see it," said Ross Manson, artistic
director of the Toronto company Volcano. "What a lovely evening, really
delightful," said Diana Belshaw, Co-ordinator of the Theatre Performance
Program at Humber Collage. Sarah Stanley, co-artistic director of Die-in-Debt
Theatre, complimented the actors. "All of you were really clear about
what you were doing. And . . . I was so impressed with how much you
understood the language and we didn't hear the actual structuring of
the text (written in iambic pentameter). That was really excellent."
The adjudicators were not satisfied however with the staging that
forced principal actors, often placed downstage centre, to play upstage
to the rest of the cast. And they found activity among the spectators
and litigants in the court scenes to draw focus frequently from the
The big winner at this year's festival was Aisling Productions of
Calgary's Frugal Comforts. The play was named best play and garnered
awards for Martin Kelly and Kenny McCullagh as best actor and supporting
actor. Deirdre Halferty received a special adjudicator's prize for directing.
This is the second year in a row that Eamonn Kelly's Frugal Comforts
was named best play. The Innisfree Theatre of Boca Raton, Florida took
the award in Chicago, and, based on our favourable impression of that
performance, the Tara Players mounted our own production own at the
beginning of the 1999-2000 season.
The other award winners in Toronto were Tena May Gallivan of Na Fianna
Irish Theatre, St. Paul, Minnesota, as best actress in the role of Mary
in Tom Murphy's Bailegangaire and Vera Kelly of the Gaelic
Park Players of Chicago, who received a special adjudicator's prize
for her role as Bridie Lavin in Michael Carey's Thy Will Be Done.
The other award winners, from the Toronto Irish Players production of
The Steward of Christendom, are mentioned above.