An online performance – not currently available to view – other than by special request (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
In March 2021, at the height of the Covid 19 Lockdown, Aisteoirí Muinchille (The Cootehill Players) of County Cavan presented “The Pilgrims of Slieve” an original online play devised and written by the cast of 12, guided and directed by Declan Gorman. The show was made available to view for one week only, starting March 26th, and was widely seen mainly by local audiences in County Cavan but also by members of the disapora and friends as far away as Canada and earthquake-stricken Indonesia.
The play was written, performed and filmed by 12 people over several months of weekly Zoom meetings, in 12 separate domestic homes, during a Lockdown when meeting in person was not possible!!! A summary of what it was about is further below.
At the time of its release, I wrote a piece about the challenges not only of making but also of viewing “theatre” online. You can read this blog here.
NO SPOILER PLOT SUMMARY
Morning breaks in the town of Slieve, County Cavan. The local radio reminds us that popular singing star Donal O’Dea will play the Emerald Hotel in the town tonight.
They also ask people to submit self-tapes, recording their “Day in the Life of County Cavan” for an arts/heritage project.
One by one, various people submit – or think about submitting – their stories. And many are initially quite sad. A comic scene unfolds at the local Court House – suggesting a quaint, archaic village, but quickly we learn this a contemporary town that includes lots of people labouring under modern pressures. A young yoga teacher who seems to have it all in front of her defines her life as empty of meaning; an older man recalls the death of his son a year ago. One by one the residents of Slieve (and one returning emigrant) describe lives and circumstances that seem on the face of it troubled. But there are also comic moments and a sense that change for the better may be coming.
As morning turns to afternoon, some of the more unhappy people of Slieve begin to confront their demons – or have them confronted by others. An angry dentist gets a call from her bank that forces her to face her financial indebtedness; a snippy and unpleasant dressmaker reveals the source of her years of anger. Friends and neighbours connect and affirm one another. But then a grand disaster – or perhaps a farce – strikes the hotel where the legendary Donal O’Dea is due to play.
In the final Evening act, solutions are sought to the immediate issue of the cancelled concert. A community comes together – willingly and reluctantly – somehow drawn by the plight of a charismatic star. A strange magic comes into play, as a group of unhappy individuals strives to gel and form into a like-minded and hopeful community.
All along the way, there are hilarious, comic scenes; interludes of poetic speaking; surprising visual and choreographed effects; bittersweet music and an increasing sense that at the end of every dark night there is a bright day ahead.
As one commentator on Twitter put it: “(this is) … tragi-comedy; a mirror of the real world; a heart-warming celebration of small town life and of the human spirit”.
DIRECTLY BELOW YOU CAN SCROLL THROUGH OR DOWNLOAD THE SHOW PROGRAMME WHICH WAS PRODUCED BY THE GROUP.