Armagh Theatre Group Does It Again!

Armagh Theatre Group wowed their audience last night with a brilliant opening night.

Yes, we’re still under Covid restrictions.

Yes, the performance was still live over zoom.

Yes, Armagh Theatre Group are still making the best of this situation and reaching audiences across the globe with their original play Six Angry Women.

Artwork by Aisling Kelly

Earlier in the evening, Kathy Clugston from BBC Radio Ulster’s show The Ticket spoke with the play’s writer, Malachi Kelly, the director, Margery Quinn and one of the actors, Marie Clare Guy. They gave behind the scenes insights and discussed the challenges of acting live over zoom. Have a wee listen in, by following this link.

It’s been great to see the interest that this amateur (in name only, in my opinion!) drama group has generated. Malachi Kelly and another actor, Bridie Heaney, were also on the radio show Your Place and Mine last Saturday morning. You can listen in by following this link. They are on first immediately followed by my good friend Angeline King talking about life in Larne!

This is the third Zoom play that Armagh Theatre Group have performed. The first, Zoomeo and Juliet, and the second, Social Bubble, Toil and Trouble, were written by a team of three of us, Malachi Kelly, Tim Hanna and myself. The ticket sales went towards a building project for the Abbey Lane Theatre, the home of the Armagh Theatre Group. Because of the pandemic, the usual way to bring in funds (through live performances) was not available. The zoom plays were the best alternative – ticking many boxes – giving our writers, director and actors a fun distraction during lockdown, entertaining the public, and raising much-needed funds for the building project. It was nice to know that we were keeping the arts alive during these dark days. Recordings of those live performances are now available to watch on YouTube.

Zoomeo and Juliet

Social Bubble, Toil and Trouble

At the end of 2020, it was clear that theatres would not return to “normal” for a while. We had a “writers and directors meeting” (i.e. a socially distanced walk around Gosford Forest Park) and discussed how to proceed. We decided we’d put our thinking caps on and try to come up with another play. As it turned out, only Malachi managed to find a cap to fit!

When he presented his idea (Six Angry Women) to Tim and me a week or so later, it was clear to us that he had an excellent idea for a new play. He already had the bones of it drafted, and we decided to take the training wheels off and see if Malachi could write this by himself. We’d be there in the wings to help if he got stuck or stalled, but really, this was his baby.

Malachi did not stall! It was exciting to see him take his idea and fly with it. The first reading brought resounded and well-deserved praise from the actors, and when Margery Quinn added her magic, the production came to life. Malachi keeps saying it’s a team effort. He’s right. All writing takes a village, but someone has to come up with the idea and have the courage to push it forward, and that’s the tricky bit. So well done, Malachi!

Last night’s performance was enthralling. The characters really came to life. The drama moved along swiftly – there was never a dull moment. Great to see it all come together so well. The actors have been working so hard, rehearsing nearly every night for the past few weeks. I was in the lucky position to sit in the “wings” and watch Margery Quinn work with the actors. All eight women were so dedicated (six angry women, a judge and the director)! The play covers a range of delicate and hard-hitting topics, with a social commentary of our times. It’s an hour well spent.

For tickets for tonight’s show, click here, and for tomorrow night’s show, click here.

For more information about the Armagh Theatre Group, check out their website

So all that remains to do after you get your ticket, is buy in your popcorn (or whatever snacks you want) and pour yourself a bevvy, then sit back and enjoy the show.

Byddi Lee