THEATRE HAS DELIVERED 25 YEARS
THE ENVY OF MANY A PRODUCTION COMPANY, CHARLEVILLE’S SCHOOLYARD THEATRE HAS SERVED THE TOWN WELL SINCE 1993
OVER the past 25 years there have been many sterling performances by both amateur and professional companies and actors at the Schoolyard Theatre in Charleville.
Who can forget the acting of Jon Kenny in his role of the Bull McCabe with the Shoestring Theatre Company in John B. Keane’s ‘ The Field,’ or that of Martin Hennessy as the Bird O’Donnell in the same production, or William Lyons as Kenneth McAlister in ‘A Night in November’ by Marie Jones, a performance which won him the best actor award at the All-Ireland Drama Festival of 2008.
Both of these were homegrown productions directed by Kevin O’Shea, whose fertile theatrical mind brought some innovative touches to the works, such as the outdoor murder scene in the ‘Field’, that enhanced the end product.
Other notable presentations through the years by the same director include Jimmy Murphy’s ‘ The Kings of Kilburn High Road’ where the performance of the late John Butler earned plaudits all over the country and best actor awards at the festivals. Another one was his acting in Jim Nolan’s ‘ The Salvage Shop,’ in which he partook, shortly before he succumbed to cancer, lighting up the stage with his performances.
Another young actress who distinguished herself in the Schoolyard Theatre and beyond is Katie Holly, who has gone on to make a name for herself as a playwright of note. Her latest work, ‘ The Crowman’, is due to open shortly in Dublin starring Jon Kenny and herself.
Since it opened in 1993, the Schoolyard Theatre has had an enormous impact on the people from Charleville town and the greater North Cork area, as they have been afforded the opportunity of seeing both amateur and professional presentations staged by the country’s most prestigious theatre companies, as well as individual performers.
The theatre is housed in a beautiful cut stone building, built as the town’s national school in 1833, and set in a walled courtyard on Charleville’s Old Limerick Road. It consists of an entrance hall, foyer, and the original pine floor boards, which were restored and polished. The 14-foot high ceiling is supported by the pillars installed over 180 years ago, and the atmospheric décor is enhanced by antique furnishings.
A mahogany stairs leads to the intimate 102 seat theatre where the atmosphere is magic both for the audience and performers on stage. The raked seating system ensures that everybody has an excellent view of the stage in comfortable seats.
The stage itself is a director’s dream and its 31 feet wide and 19 feet deep. The dimensions mean that productions of any
A scene from ‘Sharon’s Grave’ by the Shoestring Theare group at the Schoolyard Theatre in 2016.
The late John Butler (centre) pictured with singer/songwriter John Spillane (left) and entertainer John Kenny at the tribute night arranged by the Shoestring group at the Schoolyard Theatre Charleville in August 2008.
Director Kevin O’Shea.