Yesterday evening I was the Cork Arts Theatre for a set of short plays, all with an Italian theme. One of the plays had been written by Brenda Donoghue from my writing group, her first ever stab at drama.
To see a staged production of a play that we as a group watched evolve was very moving. For Brenda, and the four other aspiring playwrights in the auditorium, it must have been a roller-coaster.
From a writer’s perspective, theatre is pretty terrifying. You simply don’t know how your work will be interpreted, and often have no control over the finished product. If a director chooses to interpret those beloved, agonisingly selected words through the medium of kitten juggling, there is nothing you can do short of storming the stage. So you could love the end result or absolutely hate it. [Anecdote time: years ago, I was assistant director on a play that had been lovingly translated from French by the director. The venerable French playwright flew over to watch a private dress rehearsal a couple of days before the show opened, and we all gathered at his feet afterwards to hear his thoughts. He was quiet for a long time and then said, “But non, zis is not what I intended.” It can go very wrong.] Luckily, Brenda was delighted with the production, so close to how she’d envisaged it.
I have to say – and I mean this genuinely, not because I have loyalties here – all of the plays were thoroughly enjoyable, and very strongly cast. All five were directed by CAT chairman James Horgan, and a single vision showed in the fluidity throughout the five very different tales. Each glided easily from humour to pathos, with buckets of Italian charm and exuberance.
Last year, this small theatre, tucked away bunkerlike under an uninspiring block of flats, celebrated 40 years of nurturing new talent, and I certainly hope it will be around for a long time to come. Sitting in the foyer after the show, enjoying the Italian-themed antipasti that had been laid on for the excited audience and cast, it struck home how crucial it is to have such opportunities to showcase fledgling writers. This gave five writers a boost that could lead to anything. Judging by the considerable (all-female!) talent on show, things are looking promising.
So well done, Brenda – but bear in mind that the group will never stop badgering you to enter things now. We know when we’re right!