Solas Sessions - Westport Theatre
Drama – Poetry – Storytelling
Theatre from your Home!
Westport Town Hall Theatre are gearing up to bring their much anticipated “Solas Sessions” to the virtual stage in a series of online presentations of original pieces of writing that will be performed by a mix of professional and amateur actors from the UK, Dublin, Galway and Mayo. The first screening will premiere on Wednesday, June 10th at 8pm. There are 26 pieces currently short-listed into groups of weekly sessions that will go out live over the month of June and early July. The standard of writing has just blown us away and we are proud to give these writers and actors a platform for their work with each piece making the Sessions overall just stand out as being vivid, intriguing, funny, sad, poignant but most of all – Original. We at Westport Town Hall are so grateful for all the actors and writers that came on board with such enthusiasm to support us in keeping the spirit and relevance of the Arts in our community alight during what has been a devastating time for the sector over the past few months.
Manchester-based Phil Pearson has written 12 plays that have been performed all over England and Ireland. Inspired by Arthur Miller, Phil’s writing career began with the play, “To You, The Son I Never Had” which was was performed at Claremorris Fringe Festival in 2014. His last play, Blackpool, What A Place To Die, toured England in 2019 and is now being developed by director Nick Bagnall (Liverpool Everyman). Phil also wrote the short film The Past Keeps On Coming. His monologue for Solas “Frank Sinatra and my Dad’s Wig” will be performed by Dublin actor Charlie Hughes, who has played various roles on TV such as Fair City and also live theatre performances on the Irish and UK professional theatre circuit.
Some of the writers featured such as Biaina Ryan, Carolyn Donnelly, Ava Hahessy Madigan and Duncan Smith are all professional actors and writers studying at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin under the direction of Donal Courtney and have produced some stellar pieces of writing for Solas. Galway based writers and actors Ita Reddington and Luke Morgan, both with a strong background in theatre and film have had 5 of their pieces selected collectively for the sessions. Keeping the local side strong and equally significant are Westport’s Seamus McNally who last year won the Neil O’Neill Creativity Award for his quirky yet poignant pieces of writing. Seamus will perform his piece along with his grand-daughter Lucy, a student of Westport Drama School with Aoife Creaby. Another stellar addition to the line-up is Maura Flynn, a well-known adopted daughter of Westport who often features her pieces in The Mayo News and Ireland’s Own. Five of Maura’s collection have been selected for Solas Sessions and will certainly bring the online audience down a vivid and comforting trip of memory lane such is the clarity and depth of her effortless pieces. Maura’s pieces will be performed by St Patrick’s Drama Group members Liz Browne, Marion Moran, Bernie Byrne & Brian Murphy.
Mary C Reilly is a Westport-based writer who originally hails from Dublin. An Arts Graduate of NUIG, since moving to Westport in 2007 Mary has been involved in many community based arts projects such as WESTIVAL as well as producing and presenting ‘The Arts Show and her own show, 'Searchlight' on local radio. Mary has also published two collections of poetry, 'The Woman Who Cries Songs', in 2014 and 'Only Speak in Flowers' in 2016. Mary’s writings will be performed by Colette McGinty and Sharla Greenway.
Dublin’s Paul Mekatarian moved to Mayo 15 years ago. A graduate of The Conservative of Music and Drama, DIT, he has appeared in many productions nationally over the years. Locally he was in Foxy Jack – Produced for WESTIVAL in 2016, The Cherry Orchard and The Westport Story – a live interative outdoor street theatre performance produced by Mayo County Council and Fáilte Ireland. Paul will perform one of his own monologues “Nothing New” for Solas Sessions.
Castlebar native Anne Walsh Donnelly writes poetry, prose and plays, often with a generous helping of black humour. She was nominated for the Hennessy/Irish Times Literary Award in 2019 and is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Woman With An Owl Tattoo and the short story collection, Demise of the Undertaker’s Wife. Her short plays have been performed in the Claremorris Drama and Fringe Festival. Anne’s piece will be performed by Phillip Murphy from Kilmeena Drama Group.
Éamonn McNicholas is an actor, producer, and writer from Straide, Co. Mayo. He has trained in acting and writing extensively in Dublin over the past 4 years, performing in new and established plays in theatres in Dublin and Galway. Éamonn has been writing poetry and scenes for the past couple of years and felt it was important to highlight the impact of the Covid Pandemic on people’s mental health, especially those already suffering with mental health. His powerful piece “Stay Inside” will be performed by Des Grealis, actor and Producer of Louisburgh Community TV. With more writers, actors and pieces coming on board in the coming weeks.
Note the screenings are free to watch but any donations to support us are most welcome.
Solas Sessions Episode One
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