TheatreFest returns this weekend with three brand new performances at Ballakermeen’s Studio Theatre.
First to the stage will be the debut of TheatreFest ‘15 playwriting competition’s winning play, Morning Star by Stephen Harper, on Friday evening.
There will also be a pop-up performance of the work staged at the Rover’s Return pub in Douglas on Sunday.
Saturday evening will see a double bill of new works, Megan and Me, and Journey.
Isle of Man Arts Council vice-chairman Michael Lees said: ‘Once again we’re offering an exciting double bill.
‘Last year saw the premiere of the engaging new musical For Tonight – which clearly delighted the audience and showcased the talents of a good number of accomplished local artists – and the devised piece Invisible Chains.
‘TheatreFest15 demonstrated to great effect how a devised work is very much the sum of its parts, reflecting the input from everyone involved, on stage and behind the scenes.
‘It’s the very essence of community theatre, providing opportunities for people who have never acted before, and for more established performers to be challenged and take their acting skills into new directions – a new “journey” as it were for the entire cast, the director and the audience.’
Morning Star is a period play based around the slave trade in 1848.
The piece captures an authentic atmosphere of the time and the harsh reality of slavery but still engages with the audience.
Stephen, a retired BT manager who now lives in Norfolk, said: ‘If ever a play were suited to being performed in a pub, it’s Morning Star, as it’s set in a Bristol inn, The Blind Fiddler.’
Megan and Me is a new musical review written by well-known Manx musician David Holland together with Lisa Kreisky and Kristene Sutcliffe of Stage Door Entertainment, curators of TheatreFest16, who also take the adult roles of Megan (played by Kristene) and Melissa (Lisa).
The play – a’ black box’ style performance – explores the relationship between the two women, tracing their friendship through the years and is very loosely based on the characters of Mimi and Musetta in Puccini’s La Bohème, but brought right up to date.
The young Megan is played by Rhona Wilson, the teenager by Ali Waters, while Tara Kneen is the young Melissa and Alexandra Slater takes the teenage role.
Lisa explained: ‘This is a show all about the girls. We watch snapshots of their lives and how their friendship has developed and blossomed over the years: from humble beginnings, through teenage tantrums to enduring friendship.’
Kristene added: ‘Megan and Me has proved a fantastic vehicle for David Holland’s talent which absolutely shines through.
‘He’s achieved his ambition to write a musical review in which we’re thrilled to be performing his brilliant songs and which is a show that will delight the audience with its compelling mix of comedy and pathos.’
Meanwhile Journeys is a piece of devised theatre with a community company of actors directed by accomplished theatre director John Young, who was brought up in the Isle of Man.
The content of the devised piece was discovered though ‘intensive’ rehearsals on the evenings leading up to the performance.
He said the challenge was that they only had a week to make the show, adding: ‘But that’s the exciting part!’
John is a former resident assistant director at the leading off-West End theatre, the Finborough Theatre, and emerging trainee director with Clwyd Theatr.
He is currently involved in a new play, To Dream Again, by Toby Hulse for Theatr Clwyd which opened in June and transfers to London for a five-week run in February 2017.
Both Friday and Saturday’s performances start at 7.30pm.
Tickets for each evening cost £10 or £8 for senior citizens and under-16s.
They are available from the Welcome Centre in the Sea Terminal, from Villa/Gaiety box office on 600555 and online at www.villagaiety.com
Festival tickets covering all three evenings’ performances are £15. The Morning Star pop-up performance at the Rovers Return pub is at midday on Sunday. There’s free seating and admittance.