Western Drama Festival
 Full Length Festival, March 2024

Synopsis of Plays


Friday 1st March, 8pm
The Ray Leonard Players, Claremorris, Co. Mayo.
by Patricia Burke Brogan.

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, Ireland. "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 woman. "Eclipsed" was one of the first plays to tell the story of the Magdalene Laundries. 

Saturday 2nd March, 8pm
Newpoint Players, Newry, Co. Down.
"In the Shadow of the Glen" (Reimagined) 
by Sean Treanor (after JM Synge)
"In the Shadow of the Glen" was originally a one-act play written by JM Synge and set in an isolated cottage in County Wicklow. A tramp seeking shelter in the Burkes' isolated farmhouse finds Nora tending to the corpse of Dan. When Nora leaves to find Michael, Dan reveals to the tramp that his death was a mere ruse.
In 2005, Newpoint Players had the honour of performing a version of Synge's "In the Shadow of the Glen" as part of the Abbey Theatre Dublin's Centennial celebrations. The play was one of the four short plays which opened the Abbey, one hundred years before. Newpoint director Sean Treanor has long wished to revisit this classic piece of Irish theatre and develop some of the ideas and themes found in Synge's piece. He also wanted to develop some of the characters such as Patch D'Arcy and Peggy Cavanagh, who are only mentioned in the original and do not appear onstage. As Synge himself noted in his introduction, there is poetry in the language of the native people. This makes the piece suitable for a slightly formalised, almost dance performance style, which leaves the piece in a magical space between the real and the dream world. The hope is that with thorough workshopping and with the addition of music and masks, the Newpoint actors can produce a piece of theatre which remains true to Synge's original, whilse exploring undercurrents in the original.

Sunday 3rd March, 8pm
Glenamaddy Players, Co. Galway
"The Outgoing Tide" 
 Bruce Graham

In a summer cottage on the banks of Chesapeake Bay, Gunner has hatched an unorthodox plan to secure his family's future, but meets with resistance from his wife and son, who have plans of their own. This new drama hums with dark humour and powerful emotion. As winter approaches, the three must quickly find common ground and come to an understanding - before the tide gies out! 

Monday 4th March, 8pm
Clann Machua Drama, Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo.
"Stolen Child" 
by Yvonne Quinn & Bairbre Ni Chaoimh
Set in 1990, "Stolen Child" tells the story of Angela, a young Dublin woman and her efforts to find her birth mother following the death of her adopted mother. Angela enlists the help of a shambolic private detective, Mick Tracey, and we are taken on a facinating journey into her mother Peggy's life, including her childhool in County Cavan and her harrowing story of life in an orphanage in 1940's Ireland. The play also looks at Angela's relationship with Chris, a family doctor and how her past makes it difficult to love and be loved. What starts out as a personal odyssey for Angela and her efforts to find out about her past, becomes a fascinating journey into one of the most shameful and darkest corners of Irish history, the results of which continue to haunt us.

Tuesday 5th March, 8pm
St. Patrick's Drama Group, Westport, Co. Mayo.
 "Agnes of God" 
by John Pielmeier
"Agnes of God", a riveting play written by John Pielmeier, explores themes of faith, indetity, and the complexities of the human mind. Set in a convent, the story revolves around three central characters: Sister Agnes, a young novice nun; Mother Miriam Ruth, the stern and pragmatic Mother Superior; and Dr. Martha Livingstone, a psychiatrist tasked with evaluating Agnes after a shocking event. The play unfolds as a mystery, driven by the discovery of a dead new-born found in Agnes's room, leading to accusations of murder. Agnes, who claims not to remember the events leading up to the baby's death, is caught between her devout faith and the harsh realities of the world beyond the convent's walls. As Dr. Livingstone delves into Agnes's psyche, she faces resistance from both Agnes and Mother Miriam, revelaing a complex web of secrets, trauma and religious fervour. 

Wednesday 6th March, 8pm
Clontarf Players, Co. Dublin
"Radium Girls" 
by D.W. Gregory
In 1926, radium was a miracule cure, Madame Curie an international celebrity, and luminous watches the latest rage - until the girls who painted them began to fall ill with a mysterious disease. Inspired by a true story, "Radium Girls" traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. Her chief adversary is her former employer, Arthur Roeder, an idealistic man who cannot bring himself to believe that the same element that shrinks tumours could have anything to do with the terrifying rash of illness among his employees. As the case goes on, however, Grace finds herself battling not just with the U.S. Radium Corporation, but with her own family and friends, who fear that her campaign for justice will backfire. Written with warmth and humour, "Radum Girls" is a fast-moving, highly theatrical ensemble. Called a "powerful" and "engrossing" drama by critics, "Radium Girls" offers a wry, unflinching look at the peculiarly American obsessions with health, wealth, and the commercialisation of science.  

Thursday 7th March, 8pm
Phoenix Players, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo
"Animal Farm" 
by George Orwell (Adapted by Ian Woolridge)
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.  

Friday 8th March, 8pm
Dunmore Amateur Dramatic Society (DADS), Co. Galway
"Faith Healer" 
by Brian Friel
Throughout the remote and forgotten corners of the British Isles, Frank Hardy offers the promise of redemption to the sick and the suffering. But his is an unreliable gift, a dangerous calling which brings him into conflict with his wife Grace and his manager Teddy. Their competing accounts of past events reveal the fragility of memory and the necessity of stories as a means of survival.

Saturday 9th March, 8pm
Wexford Drama Group, Co. Wexford.
"How I Learned to Drive" 
by Paula Vogel
The play tells the story of a woman nicknamed Li'l Bit as she comes to terms with her abusive relationship with her Uncle Peck throughout her adolescence. Aside from Li'l Bit and Uncle Peck, a Greek Chorus of three is on hand to play all of the other characters in their lives. The script is a memory play told largely out of chronological order, with the first scene taking place in 1969 in a parking lot in rural Maryland and travels on a journey of over 20 years as Li'l Bit tries to find herself.