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Legendary theatre to rise again

Thursday, 12th September, 2019 8:46am

The smell of greasepaint is in the air as one of Cork’s most iconic theatres gets set to stage its first season of shows since 1987.

Fr Mathew Hall, located in the city centre, was once one of the busiest theatres in the country and now, under the artistic vision of Cork producer, playwright and director Patrick Talbot, the beloved site will once again shine a spotlight on some of Cork’s brightest theatrical stars.

Mr Talbot, who is the former CEO of the Everyman Palace on MacCurtain Street, began his theatre career at Fr Mathew Hall when it was still known as the Everyman Playhouse between 1972 and 1987.

“I began as a boy working at the Fr Mathew Hall and that’s when I really started in theatre, as did so many of us who work in theatre in Cork of a certain age,” he told the Cork Independent.

He continued: “That’s where we learned the trade, so the place has a huge significance in my own career and it’s really interesting to be going back there after so long.”

Fr Mathew Hall is currently home to the Feis Maitiú competition.

Feis Maitiú is an annual music and drama festival which runs from the end of January to the start of April.

The season of shows will kick off in late September with the critically acclaimed ‘Wet Paint’, written by and starring ‘Young Offenders’ star Shane Casey.

“‘Wet Paint’ is going on a national tour at the end of the month, into October and November. I wanted to run the play in Cork city again but I came to it a bit late in terms of finding a venue, so I thought about the Fr Mathew Hall,” explained Mr Talbot.

“So I thought okay, if I do one play in the Fr Mathew Hall, then why not do a few more and run a little season there and see how we get on? So I’ve put together four Cork shows showcasing Cork artists,” he added.

‘Wet Paint’ will run at Fr Mathew Hall on 24, 25, 27 and 28 September, and 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19 October.

The other shows running during the season are ‘Dockers’, written and directed by Marion Wyatt, ‘Divas: From Callas to Garland’, a new show from three of Ireland’s best sopranos, and ‘Gone Full Havisham’, written and performed by Irene Kelleher, direct from her acclaimed runs at the Edinburgh and Cork Midsummer Festivals.

Commenting on Cork audiences and the important role that theatre plays in the city, Mr Talbot said that the apparent mix of age groups in people attending theatre is “extremely encouraging”.

“We have a broader audience for theatre in Cork now. We have as many young people going to theatre now as we have more mature people.

“That’s one of the reason I think having an active new venue is a good thing because it provides another platform for local theatre and it gives the audience an opportunity to equate itself to a new venue,” he said.

He concluded: “We’ll see how we get on with this season, and if it works and is supported, then I’d like to think we might be able to do it again next year.”

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