WILLIAM Shakespeare once wrote, ‘All the world’s a stage’, and for the performers, writers, stage managers and supporters of the Glengarriff Youth Theatre Group (GYTG), that ‘stage’ is alive and well in West Cork.
Indeed, whether it’s the annual Christmas panto or a play written, produced and performed by the members the GYTG, there is certainly no shortage of talent or support when it comes to the arts on the Beara peninsula.
‘We have a wealth of talent here in Glengarriff, and once again we are all looking forward to the new season beginning with our ever-popular Christmas Pantomime, Robin Hood,’ Maria O’Sullivan, youth leader at the GYTG told The Southern Star. ‘And of course we have plans for a play later on in the year. We are hoping to present a musical, but that is for further discussion within the group.’
From its formation back in 2009, the GYTG has become a powerhouse of the arts, not only in Glengarriff or the Beara peninsula but right across the West Cork region. The youth group is now a well established and a nationally recognised organisation and was until recently the only youth theatre group in West Cork.
‘We started out doing little sketches for GAA Scór, there was maybe five or six of us who got together, and we would put these little plays on across the peninsula. From there we hooked up with the wonderful Maggie Frame, who is the writer and director of our Christmas panto. There is only one way to describe our Christmas panto, and that is spectacular. Maggie is ably assessed by her co-directors Aisling Morris and Lora O’Flatherty,’ Maria continued.
The annual Glengarriff Christmas panto is so popular that children between the ages of four and twelve travel from across Beara for a chance to take part. ‘We had so much talent that we felt that while it was perfect for the younger kids who wanted to take part in the Christmas panto, the kids, teenagers really, who had enjoyed the panto and now wanted more, needed to express their creativity and talent. These teens wanted to put on more contemporary pieces, tackling serious issues and giving voice to their own experiences,’ explained Maria.
And that’s exactly what happened. For the youth drama, it was the players themselves that set the tone. ‘We have kids who come along to see what its all about, many of them say that they would never get up on the stage and it is amazing to see the change after only a few weeks. There is an awaking of confidence that goes on to support them as they go through life, it is wonderful to witness,’ Maria said.
The GYTG is all about empowering the members, and for Maria and her fellow coordinators the group is all about working as a team, for themselves and for the production. ‘We are here to support the kids – if they want to achieve something they are encouraged to do it themselves. Whether it’s learning lines, building sets or writing the plays, we are here to support – nothing more.’ Maria continued. All the members know what is expected and what is at stake. After all the show must go on.
This year the GYTG has 20 members, and for anyone who wants to take part, the group will not turn you away. ‘The members do everything, from stage sets, lighting, writing and anything else that is needed. If anyone asks if we can do this play or tackle that subject or whatever it might be, we will always do our best. We will always try,’ Maria continued.
The Glengarriff Youth Theatre Group is a member of the National Association for Youth Drama in Ireland (NAYD), and as the winter season gets underway, the community hall in Glengarriff is the place to be every Monday night if you want to witness, or indeed become part of this very creative youth group. ‘We want to thank the wider community for the incredible support they give us, and the NAYD for the resources that they make available to us. We are all looking forward to another fantastic panto this year and we will be announcing our new play, a musical, just after Christmas. We also want to thank all our members and their parents for all their hard work and support. We welcome everybody and if anyone is interested they are welcome along to join the fun,’ Maria concluded.
• For anyone that would like to get involved, the members of Glengarriff Youth Theatre Group meet every Monday night in Glengarriff community hall from 7pm to 9pm.