The Drama Society’s production of Carthaginians has been selected to represent NUI Galway at the Irish Student Drama Awards (ISDA) in April. The event which is being held at UCC this year features plays from across Irish college campuses that are then judged based on categories such as Best Play, Best Director, Best Actress and so on.
The plays are selected by three adjudicators who view each university’s plays for the year. They then select what they believe to be the best plays to present at the 10-day long awards festival.
Carthaginians originally ran at NUI Galway in October of 2017. The play was written in 1988 by Irish playwright Frank McGuinness. It is set in a Derry graveyard following Bloody Sunday, with seven characters wandering about the headstones as they “talk through their lives and troubles, through the troubles in the North”.
“It’s funny, but there are heartfelt moments,” Director and Third Year Performing Arts student Jess Harkin summarized.
While most of the original cast will reprise their roles during the ISDAs, Harkin was tasked with holding auditions for their one vacant role.
Sarah Dervin who originally played the character of the same name, Sarah, is in Philadelphia as part of her college course. Fortunately, Harkin managed to re-cast Sarah who will now be played by Julie Quinn.
Quinn is very aware of the historical context of the play, as she hails just a half hour away from where the play is set.
“I decided to audition for Sarah because I think she represents what a lot of people were feeling during the troubles,” she told SIN.
“She is bitter and resentful, but you can tell she’s quite fragile underneath.
“I live 30 minutes away from Derry myself, so I’m very aware of northern history and have heard loads of old stories from them times. Therefore, I think Carthaginians really represents Derry as a whole. It displays an array of emotions which is accurate to what people were experiencing and feeling at the time of the troubles. I think the rawness of this production is what separates it from other plays. It’s also light-hearted and funny. You can’t beat the Derry wit.”
Director Harkin has been involved in Dramsoc for the past year and a half, and she is optimistic about their success. When asked if they have a strong chance at victory, she replied with an assured “definitely”.
NUI Galway still face stiff competition at the ISDAs against challengers UCD and Trinity’s DU Players. Last year UCD took home the most awards including Best Director, Best Ensemble, Best Overall Production, and Best Supporting Actor.
Dramsoc won’t know what awards they are nominated for until after they have performed at the festival.
To prepare themselves, the cast will be getting straight to work rehearsing two to three hours a day, three times a week, for the next two weeks. Closer to the competition they will likely rehearse every day. Not only will the cast and crew be rehearsing non-stop, but they will also have to juggle college work.
While Carthaginians explores Bloody Sunday’s impact on the people of Derry, it was also one of the first Irish plays to present the topic of homosexuality, which McGuinness manifested through the character of Dido.
“I hope that the play does well at the ISDAs because there are so many talented people involved in this production. Hopefully their hard work and talent will be commended. I just want to have fun and hopefully make some new friends,” remarked Quinn.
“Actors have put their heart and soul into the play,” Harkin reflected.
“I’m proud, happy, and blessed to have worked with such a great cast.”
By Olivia Hanna
Screengrab via NUIG Dramsoc on Facebook