The Cork Arts Theatre team as they get ready for a hectic 2022. Photo: Darragh Kane

Mystery donor adds to the drama

After the famine comes a feast. Theatre-lovers on Leeside are in for a real treat as Cork Arts Theatre (CAT) tees up ten new shows for 2022 with the help of a anonymous donor.

The programme - under the banner Creative Empowerment - is the brainchild of CAT’s Artistic Director Dolores Mannion and is fully comprised of new work by local playwrights.

During lockdown, when almost all live theatre ceased, the small but vibrant CAT group recognised the need to keep the creative process alive. At the time, the Creative Empowerment programme acted as a lifeline for many of Cork’s most creative artists, helping them to stay motivated. It is now set to deliver a diverse programme of entertaining and thought-provoking theatre.

The wide-ranging programme, which the CAT team promise will make you laugh, cry and question the status quo, kicks off this month (March) and runs through to November 2022. It promises theatre at its best and most original, drama which sparks new conversations, and plays which deliver the best of all medicines, laughter.

The programme features the challenging and disturbing ‘Stacy’ by Jack Thorne (Minnow Productions) and the hilarious Cork-based drama ‘The Flags’ by BAFTA award winning Bridget O’Connor (Red ‘n Blue Theatre Company).

Also included in the line-up are new plays by Kelby Guilfoyle (‘Blathanna’), Padraig O’Connor (‘This, That & The Other’), Dolores Mannion (‘Abandoned’), Pauline O’Driscoll (‘Jump!?’), and a devised work entitled ‘Where’s My Art?’ by Suisha Arts that examines experiences of people with disabilities in creating in the performing arts.

Then we have Strive Theatre’s multi-disciplinary ‘Styx’ which brings the audience on a promenade through the venue while ‘The Dominion of Fancy’, a dark musical cabaret performed by Dominic Moore, Victoria Keating and Mark Wilkins, encompasses opera, puppetry, projection and live music.

Also featuring in this year’s programme is ‘Wake’, written and performed by Irene Kelleher, which introduces the audience to Lily, not quite your typical mourner, at her mother’s wake.

The programme was made possible with the backing of the Community Foundation for Ireland and the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Artistic Director of Cork Arts Theatre, Dolores Mannion said: “We are thrilled to be supporting so many Cork theatre makers and are excited by the wide range of productions we have lined up for our audience. We are immensely grateful to the Community Foundation for Ireland and the anonymous Cork benefactor for recognising the vision of Cork Arts Theatre and funding the Creative Empowerment programme.”

The Chief Executive of The Community Foundation for Ireland, Denise Charlton, said: “Access to the arts lies at the very heart of real equality. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, we are delighted to be supporting Creative Empowerment in bringing the passion, creativity and energy of Cork artists before audiences.

“What is particularly inspiring is the wide range of works in the programme. Audiences will laugh, cry and, I have no doubt, applaud these thought-provoking productions. After the experience of the past two years, the Community Foundation and its donors look forward to seeing full houses at the CAT for the rest of 2022.”