If all the world’s a stage, then Wexford is in the spotlight. A haven and indeed a mecca for theatre types the world over, Wexford holds a special place in the hearts of thespians everywhere. Let’s face it, the Wexford Festival Opera wouldn’t be around for the last 70 odd years if it didn’t!
If all the Covid madness has taught us anything, it’s to appreciate life more. Treading the boards with friends who I’ve known for longer than I care to remember is one thing I took for granted. Now, it is one thing I sorely miss. Ever since I took part in my first show almost 20 years ago, I have never gone longer than a few months without performing in some show or another. The abrupt finish to rehearsals back in March 2020 certainly didn’t have the finality or satisfaction of a bow before an appreciative audience.
The theatrical types in Wexford often style themselves as one big family. This couldn’t be more true. Throughout the months of rehearsals you see your show family several times a week. In the final few weeks and during the run of the show, you end up seeing them more than your real family! As for the theatres, they become your home, your home away from home, your happy place.
The Wonderful Theatres
The Dun Mhuire, known to most of the town as “the parish hall” was where most Wexfordians were first exposed to the bright lights and joyous productions. The annual panto instilled awe and wonder in adults and children alike. Audiences travelled from far wide to laugh along with the actors and to sing and dance with the countless talented children in the chorus and choir. Sadly, we took our final bows there and the theatre is now closed down. That doesn’t mean this joy is gone. The spirit and sense of community that the Dun Mhuire stood for will live on in all those who would’ve tread the boards there and in all those who enjoyed performances of all kinds, from shows to plays, from pantos to concerts and from functions to roller discos!
The Theatre Royal was a warren of stairs and corridors where personal space was more of a suggestion than a requirement. But my stars, it oozed charm and character. Now, the flashy Opera House may have spacious dressing rooms, wide corridors and gigantic backstage but does it have the same charm for the performers? I think it does. We may have smaller crowds in each dressing room and so much personal space that it puts social distancing to shame, but that same camaraderie and enjoyment is there. The newer building is developing a charm all of its own. Its almost like the street remembers, the soil beneath the theatre remembers and most importantly, performers, crew and audiences alike remember. They remember past shows, almost like the grand finale of each show is still echoing around the auditorium.
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