Award-winning theatre group left without home venue

April 21st, 2022 10:00 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Anthony Harris and Jon Fenwick in Skibbereen Theatre Society’s award-winning production of Brighton.

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COUNCILLORS have described as ‘frustrating and disappointing’ the fact that the Town Hall in Skibbereen has been closed for years and that the local theatre society is without a venue in which to stage their award-winning play.

Cllr Karen Coakley (FG) raised the issue at a recent meeting of the West Cork Municipal District. She complained that the closure of the building for more than two years is ‘very unfair on local groups.’

She said it was ‘not good enough’ that Skibbereen Theatre Society, who won four awards for their production of Brighton, and has qualified for the upcoming All-Ireland finals, had to rehearse in random locations.

‘We were told that it would be reopened on March 1st,’ she said, ‘but that deadline has passed.’

‘For three years,’ Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said, ‘this work has been talked about yet it is still not finished.’

‘It’s a shame that the local drama group didn’t have a venue for their recent award-winning production,’ he added.

Senior executive officer MacDara O h-Icí told the councillors that no date had been set for its reopening.

He said the work being carried out is to modernise the building and provide better access and that he could not give the councillors a completion date.

Cork County Council confirmed that the works are necessary to improve access to the building and ‘future proof the facility.’

The spokesperson said: ‘Details of the works to the exterior were the subject of a recent planning process.’

Work is ‘ongoing’, the spokesperson said and ‘no bookings will be taken for the facility’ until the construction is complete.

Meanwhile, Kevin Cadogan, who is a member of Skibbereen Theatre Society, confirmed that the troupe rehearsed in a variety of venues including the local band hall, GAA hall and the local boy’s national school since last September.

‘We thought the Town Hall would be ready in December so we had to go to plan B to stage the performance elsewhere before the festival circuit,’ he said.

Baltimore and Ballydehob community hall committees were extremely accommodating, he said, but it would have been preferable to have six performances in the Town Hall before travelling to the various theatre festivals.

Kevin Cadogan said the changes presented a number of challenges including rehearsing without the benefit of an established set.

He confirmed that the theatre group is hoping to stage another production – the comedy Happy Birthday Dear Alice – later this summer and with rehearsals due to start next week they are still without a venue.

Meanwhile, Skibbereen Theatre Society has confirmed that it has qualified to take part in the All-Ireland final in Ballyshannon in County Donegal.

In fact, the Skibbereen Theatre Society is the only Munster group to have qualified for the finals.

The qualification is determined on a point system and Skibbereen is one of nine groups taking part in the final, which runs from April 22nd to 30th.

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