Mountmellick Drama Group started life as Mountmellick Pioneers way back in 1979. Founded on the instigation of the then spiritual director of the P.T.A.A. Fr Flemming, it was even then unique in that it was formed to bring drama enthusiasts both from within the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association into collaboration with non-pioneers to develop and nurture socializing through the medium of amateur theatre.
It proved a hugely successful venture with the first production, The Rain at the End of the Summer, by J.B. Keane taking to the boards in the concert hall in St Mary’s College in the spring of 1980. The group presented full length plays right throughout the eighties and nineties presenting a huge variety of Irish and internationally authored productions. Our ambition knew no bounds with everything from Irish stalwarts by Friel, Leonard and Louis D’Alton, to English farce by Ayckbourn to US classics like Miller’s All My sons. The involvement with the then fledgling Laois Drama Association helped to build a solid following and a knowledgeable audience in Mountmellick for all things dramatic.
In the late eighties the group ventured out on the One Act Festival Circuit and were shocked to achieve almost instance success ending up in the All-Ireland Drama Finals in 1987 and winning many awards in the nominating festivals over the following years. The group also became leading lights in the national Pioneer Competitions, the only situation where membership of the PTAA became a requirement to “get a part”.
Having provided the manpower and the drivers for the first Three Act Circuit Festival run by Laois Drama, it was a natural progression for the group to take a shot at running the festival themselves when the Laois Association decided to take a step back.
By this time Mountmellick Drama Group had taken up residence in the old cinema, called it the Concert Hall and started the development journey that culminated in the revamped and now very modern Community Arts Centre. We have been performing there both in the main auditorium and in the Balcony Studio Theatre since 1988. So, we had a great joining of objectives, energy, facilities and opportunity. The result, a thriving Festival, a flourishing performing group and an annual programme of theatre with an audience eagerly waiting for each season.
In latter years the link between the Drama Group and the PTAA weakened, different objective and progressive development plans for both organisations meant it was time for a mutually agreed parting to allow each group flourish in it’s own pursuits. Both organisations remain hugely supportive of each other’s work with lifelong links maintained.
Over the years the Drama Group has had in excess of 150 members who have worked both on and off stage in productions and festivals. We have had productions from ten different directors and continue to provide an outlet for anyone in the community with a bent for performance or stage craft.
Our Full length repertoire down through the years is
|1980||Rain at the End of Summer||John B Keane|
|1981||Paid In his own Coln||Thomas King Moylan|
|1982||Damsel from Dublin||Thomas King Moylan|
|1983||The Highest House on the Mountain||John B Keane|
|1984||Lovers’ Meeting||Louis D’Allon|
|1985||Catch Me if you Can||Jack Weinstock & Willie Gilbert|
|1986||All my Sons||Arthur Miller|
|1987||Mick and Mick||Hugh Leonard|
|1988||Bedroom Farce||Alan Ayckbourn|
|1989||How the Other Half Loves||Alan Ayckbourn|
|1990||Look no Hans||John Chapman & Michael Pertwee|
|1991||Last of the Red Hot Lovers||Neil Simon|
|1992||The Communication Cord||Brian Friel|
|1993||The Factory Girls||Frank McGuinness|
|1994||Run for your Wife||Ray Cooney|
|1995||The Odd Couple||Neil Simon|
|1996||Holiday Snap||Michael Pertwee & John Chapman|
|1997||The Lament of Arthur Cleary||Dermot Bolger|
|1998||The Importance of Being Earnest||Oscar Wilde|
|2000||The Patrick Pearse Motel||Hugh Leonard|
|2001||Foot and Mouth Disease||No Show This Year|
|2002||Happy Birthday Dear Alice|
|2003||The Beauty Queen of Leenane||Ma rtin McDonagh|
|2008||Big Maggie||John B Keane|
|2009||The Year of the Hiker||John B Keane|
|2010||Dancing at Lughnasa||Brien Friel|
|2011||One for the road||Willie Russell|
|A crucial Week in the life of a grocers|
|2013||Move over Mrs Markham||John Chapman|
|2014||The Factory Girls||Frank McGuinness|
|2016||Plaza Suite||Nell Simon|
|2017||Chehlre Cats||Gall Young|
|2018||Lovers, Winners – Loosers||Brian Friel|
|2019||Lovers at Versailles||Bernard Farrell|
|2020||The Hen Night Epiphany||Jimmy Murphy|