Review Leitrim Youth Theatre Co. Carrigallen 10th Anniversary Celebrations
LYTC Carrigallen recently presented two pieces of theatre at the Corn Mill Theatre Carrigallen as part of their ten years since formation.

The Junior group presented A Fairy "Tell" Tale written by Yvonne Heijneman. This piece about characters in children's Fairy tales and stories, after their character performances they went back to their ordinary lives. The personalities of the children shone through, the characterisations created and the overall effect was just fantastic. What these people working in theatre with LYTC is amazing. It was so entertaining for the audiences and so developmental for the children in so many ways. Each piece had a message, humour, and originality. A very strong, very well-rehearsed cast, were rewarded with a sell-out very appreciative audience. LYTC Carrigallen has come a long way in ten years.

The Senior LYTC group currently 23 members performed a work in progress piece of Theatre called "Out of The Box" written by Maura Williamson, the cast, Yvonne Heijneman, and Aoife Tierney. This was professionally presented and all its themes were clearly realised for the audience. The abstract ideas portrayed in this play were very well created by the individual actors including the great ensemble work they did.

"Who is normal" What is normal, do we all follow the pack? Or do we do our own individual thing. Do we stay in the box like "Jack in the box" or if we come out of it, what is it like? The plays different scenes covered control, good and bad advice, identity, confusion in young people, mixed messages, violence and bullying, and the use of the toy shop to display real life moments.

The direction and acting here was exceptional. Every cast member fulfilled their roles totally, and some of a very high calibre. The audience were totally riveted by the show throughout. What they saw came together within a few weeks, what will the finished product be like in November/December?

They received a genuine standing ovation at the end. Thanks to all involved for this memorable night of Theatre.

Reviewed by
Jim Williamson
Director and Actor
Leitrim Youth Theatre Co. Carrigallen 10th Anniversary Celebrations
Leitrim Youth Theatre Co. Carrigallen 10th Anniversary Celebrations
Helen Corcoran, Becky Thomas & Maura Williamsonenjoy the celebrations.
The beginning of Leitrim Youth Theatre Co. in Carrigallen

Leitrim Youth Theatre Co. Carrigallen started in the autumn of 2004. It was set up by Arts Officer Caoimhin Corrigan who employed Drama Facilitator Maura Williamson and assistants Becky Thomas and Helen Corcoran to work with The Company. The Company extended to have two other groups in Carrick on Shannon and Manorhamilton. Initially the Company in Carrigallen had 18 members and in May 2005 they preformed their first play “The Terrible Fate of Humpty Dumpty” a full length play about bullying directed by Maura Williamson. The following term the Company increased enrolment and had 2 groups totalling in 30 members. Again the Company tackled social issue material and the original group performed “Heroine Lies” a play about the life of a young girl who dies from drug use. The younger group performed four devised scenes entitled “This Is Us”. One of the original members Claire Finnegan wrote a one act play entitled “Down Flew the Crow” and this was performed by the Company during the One Act Drama Festival in the Corn Mill in December 2007. 2008 The company performed a funny play entitled “Folie Tha” by Ciaran Gray directed again by Maura Williamson. This play looks at the ups and downs of a group of students travelling to France for a holiday.

2008-2009 The Company took on their most challenging and artistic pieces of work to date “Our Story of Margaret of New Orleans”. This involved the process of devising, and the writing of this play by Maura Williamson. It also involved singer/song writer Tony Fahy writing seven songs that enhance and add ambience to this production. Mary Harte, Eilish Connelly and cast member Kate Reilly joined Tony Fahy in singing the songs live on stage during the production. The play also has all original music and this was composed by John McCartin, Bryan Mulligan and Padraic McGovern. The Company performed to four full audiences including the Local Vocational School in April, and again in July for a group of people from New Orleans who have a keen interest in the story of Margaret of New Orleans. They were overwhelmed by the performance and the Company received a standing ovation on the night. Celtic Balladeer Danny Flaherty who organised the trip came to the stage over whelmed by emotion and spoke how he learned so much about Margaret story he did not know, and how the New Orleans people would love to see this play.

Aims: Leitrim Youth Theatre Company aims to promote the creativity of young people, as well as their personal, social and educational development, through a rich and varied programme of drama workshop, theatre performances, script writing, devising, and visual design.

Youth drama is not always about performing on stage, and when the workshops are in the hands of good facilitators, the work can take members on a challenging journey that life may take them on in years to come. Two members of LYTC Carrigallen Aaron McManus and Daniel Mimna assist the Corn Mill Theatre Co. as lighting and sound technicians. Another member Kate Ledwith play the main role of Sive in The Corn Mill Theatre Company’s of “Sive” by John B. Keane directed by Killan McGuinness, Other aspects of what youth is about.

From September 2009 Leitrim Youth Theatre Co. break into two different projects. A cross-border project facilitated by Cavan man Kevin O’Connor assisted by Becky Thomas, and an intercultural project facilitated by Maura Williamson assisted by Helen Corcoran, bringing in The Barleyfield students, and students from different backgrounds in the community. The two projects are funded by Peace III.

The members of Leitrim Youth Theatre
Back row: Claire Finnegan, Jessica Gilhooly, Yvonne Hardiman, Gemma McClean, Conal Murray, Conor O'Neill, Aaron McManus.
Front row: Richelle Celine Paler, Siobhan McGarry, Lucy Anne McDermott, Amenda Rice, Aishling Mulcahy, Grainne O'Malley, Gina Gillick, John Creamer
Our Story of Margaret of New Orleans

The initial research material was gathered from members of the Margaret of New Orleans Committee who came and met with the Youth Theatre Co. this was facilitated by Kate McCarty youth and community development officer with Leitrim co. council. In attendance was Maura Williamson, Becky Thomas, Helen Corcoran, Susie Minto, Tony Fahy. Local articles written about Margaret’s. Story was read, a book about Margaret’s story entitled “Margaret Friends of Orphans” became a part of the workshops. The devising acting out, and laying out of important scenes began in the workshop to bring the material alive.

Following each session Drama Facilitator Maura Williamson took the material away and began the process of writing the play. The Youth Theatre members had a strong input into the shaping of the play and the adding of different characters to each scene. Singer/Songwriter Tony Fahy attended some of the sessions and found his song writing talent rekindled, and he began to compose songs which were sang live on stage during the play. The full length play of twenty two scenes was presented in the rehearsal space in early February and intense rehearsals began. Julie Smith dance and movement facilitator added her talent to the movement scenes. Six black boxes were used as set and props during the scenes and added to the flowing of the play from scene to scene. Lighting technician Philip McIntyre added his skill in bring the play alive, assisted by Aaron McManus, Seamus Tierney, and sound technician Daniel Mimna a member of the youth theatre again added his talent and skill to collecting the sound effects and controlling the level of sound on stage. This play could be described as an ensemble piece of theatre with each cog in the wheel coming together to bring Margaret’s story alive and was performed to a wide audience.

Special Thanks to all the youth theatre members for their trust and dedication to the process of devising and writing this play. To assistants Helen, Becky, Storyteller Susie Minto, Julie Smith. Musical artists John McCartin, Bryan Mulligan, Padraic McGovern, and especially singer/songwriter Tony Fahy, Mary Harte and Eilish Connelly. Parents Geraldine and Betty for backstage work and make up. Stage Manager Becky and assistant Yvonne and Cillian. Kate McCarthy, Caoimhin Corrigan Arts Office and Leitrim Co. Council and Arts Council of Ireland for funding. Tully “Margaret of New Orleans Committee, Secretary Bernie.

If Leitrim Youth Theatre Co. Carrigallen won this award it would be seen as a major achievement for Youth Theatres in Ireland who fail to attract large audiences to their work. It would mean that the singers along with all the members of the cast could record a cd of the songs with this play and add more instruments to that recording. It would highlight this production by the youth theatre as a template for other youth theatre to make local history and story interesting in the form of a play for stage involving song writing and live performance. It would give a wider publicity to the world about the fascinating story of Margaret of New Orleans.

It would begin the fund-raising here to take the Company to visit New Orleans to perform the play there. Answering a request made by the New Orleans people when they saw the play. They are also prepared to put up some substantial finance to make this dream come true for the youth theatre. Adding to that dream would be to win this Award from Shannonside/Northern Sound.

The members of Leitrim Youth Theatre in rehearsals
Leitrim Youth Theatre Company present the story of 'Margaret of New Orleans'

Leitrim Youth Theatre Company head into their sixth production. This time their production tells the story of "the Angel of the Delta", the Bread Woman of New Orleans, the Celebrated Margaret, Margaret of Tully, Mother Margaret, and Margaret of New Orleans, all appropriate titles indeed for an extraordinory unique woman, who was born in Tully, Carrigallen. She emigrated with her father, mother and two other siblings to Baltimore at the tender age of five in 1818. Speaking with Maura Williamson, Leader, Director and writer of this play, assisted by the cast has said it has been one of the most challenging pieces of work the company have worked on to date. History of people who lived a life time ago can be a boring subject to young people, and maintaining their interest and staying with the method of devising a play was a difficult task, but we all took a deep breath and a sigh of relief as the final script, (still a work in progress) became the end product and indeed an exciting nights entertainment for all who attend is guaranteed, as the company head into the final weeks of rehearsals.

Youth drama is not always about performing on stage, and if the workshops are in the hands of good leaders, the work can take members on a challenging journey that life may take them on in years to come. Two members of LYTC Carrigallen, Aaron McManus assistant lighting technician, and Daniel Mimna sound technician are busy touring the amateur drama festival with "Kevin's Bed" directed by Killian McGuinness and the Corn Mill Theatre, another side to what youth drama is about.

This production has a strong community feel about it, and with the seed of Margaret's story been sown by many previously in this community like former National School teacher Joe Doonan, Raymond Hackett, Michael Reilly, John Joe Rudden, and the Tully Committee of The Margaret of New Orleans project. On this production musician and song writer Tony Fahy has written five songs to add to the artistic value of this production. John McCartin, Brian Mulligan and Mary Harte are also adding original music to this production. Many strands of an organic artistic community all coming together with Leitrim Youth Theatre Company to enhance this production, and in the lines of the play "Margaret's spirit still lives on".If you are familiar with Margaret of New Orleans or if you are interested in hearing about a very extradinary woman come along and support Leitrim Youth Theatre Carrigallen performing at The Corn Mill Theatre, Carrigallen on Friday 3rd, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th April at 8:30pm. Booking at (049) 4339612. The Company will also perform a day time show on Thursday at 12 noon for the pupils from the local Vocational School, Carrigallen. LYTC Carrigallen is funded by Leitrim County Council and Arts Council as part of the wider Leitrim Youth Theatre Company programme which includes groups in Manorhamilton and Carrick-on-Shannon. Further information contact Kate at (071) 9621694

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