Mayo’s first environmentally-friendly drama group has been set up in Ballycastle and is being true to its ethos as it rehearses for its debut production, Bernard Farrell’s Canaries, which will premiere on August 23 and 24 next.
Anyone saving turf in Ballycastle in recent weeks may have been lucky enough to get a preview of the Downpatrick Headers’ first play as members have been running scenes while working the bog.
Group member Thomas Forde told thethat the group comprises people from the rural north Mayo parishes of Kilfian, Lacken and Ballycastle and derived their name from the iconic local landmark, Downpatrick Head.
He explained that fellow founding member and ecologist Raymond Tighe had made the radical suggestion that the group break with the rural Irish tradition of only staging plays in winter and perform in the summer instead.
He reasoned that this represented a significant environmental statement as there would be no need for a centrally heated venue for rehearsals etc.
It would also afford the group an opportunity to incorporate the natural environment into its preparations.
This latter reason led fellow member Pat Walshe to quip that the group could rehearse on his bank of turf and, following a lengthy discussion, what was merely a tongue-in-cheek suggestion, became a reality as the Downpatrick Headers ran lines on the bog while simultaneously helping Pat to save his turf.
Thomas Forde says fellow turf cutters have been highly amused to encounter this unprecedented “drama” on the bog.
But the Downpatrick Headers are determined to persevere with their environmentally-friendly endeavours.
Next year they are proposing to lease a bank of turf for rehearsals and cut it in the most sustainable way – by hand, spade or sleán.
Meanwhile, the group will performin Ballycastle Community Hall on Friday and Saturday, August 23 and 24, next at 8pm.
Thomas says that now the turf is saved, they are hoping for a full house on both nights.