Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New series of plays launched in the Belltable

MINISTER for Defence Willie O’Dea launched the next in the series of plays forming part of the Limerick Theatre Hub in the Belltable Arts Centre this Monday evening.
The Minister launched the next productions in the ‘Elements: A Season of Theatre’ series, an Arts Council funded initiative that has, in the absence of a professional theatre company in Limerick, seen four productions funded and developed locally, featuring local performers. Despite recommendations in the Government commissioned ‘McCarthy Report’ that funding for the arts be dramatically scaled back, Minister O’Dea told the Limerick Chronicle that he was “reasonably hopeful” that a certain level of funding can be maintained to this area.
“I would be reasonably hopeful we would be able to maintain a reasonable level of funding for the arts, it is very important,” said Minister O’Dea.
The ‘Elements’ series has already seen two professional productions staged in the Belltable, with two more to come in October and November - ‘Don Juan in Hell’ directed by Duncan Molloy and ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy’ adapted by Mike Finn.
All four productions received a total funding of €90,000 from the Arts Council, a far cry short of the usual cost of producing professional theatre.
“This is a classic example of how to get the best value for money - they have got so much for so little here, it shows the money can be spent to great effect,” said Minister O’Dea.
“The arts are very important and are even more important in a recession, because the country is not just about an economy, it is about society as well.
The Minister added: “Good local theatre certainly fosters community spirit and there is a lot of potential ability out there that can be tapped by having access to good local theatre, and that is what this is about essentially”.
Joanne Beirne, artistic director with the Belltable, said that audience support is essential to the continuing success of the initiative.
“You can't have pieces without an audience and we value our patrons very much and hope to engage them a lot more,” said Joanne.
“The audiences are really important to us and we hope to produce more work like this, but we are going to need their support in order to do that.
“We are on a really tight budget - a normal theatre production can be anywhere from €50,000-150,000 - we are doing four for €90,000, so it is certainly a huge feat and all the artists involved and performers have worked their socks off.”
Don Juan in Hell, adapted from a George Bernard Shaw play, will premiere and run in the Belltable from October 14-24.

(pictured l-r Joanne Beirne, Minister Willie O'Dea and John Gleeson, courtesy Owen South)

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