Sive – A Great Success

In March 2012, Coláiste Éanna, Rathfarnham, after a break of some 20 years, revived the old school tradition of staging a school production. Little did we know in September 2011, when the decision to stage a drama was made, the immense effect the production would have on both the school itself and indeed the wider community. Nor could we have anticipated the tremendous success that it would be and the outstanding reviews we would receive from neighbouring schools and theatre professionals alike.

We chose the much revered play of “Sive” by Irish literary great John B. Keane for our first show. We were determined to create a high quality production, thus high quality material was required! This decision was broadly welcomed by the staff of English Departments in numerous local Secondary schools as “Sive” is currently on the Leaving Cert Syllabus.

We started with a team of two: Ms. Neasa Ni Bhrosnacháin, the Producer, and Mr. Gary Mountiane, our expert Director.  The first step involved tapping into the pool of talent within the walls of Coláiste  Éanna. After numerous nerve-wracking auditions, six students were chosen to play the male roles. TY student Alan McGrath embraced the role of the indecisive Mike Glavin; Sam Byrne of 5th year wowed audiences with his performances as the devious matchmaker Thomasheen Seán Rua; Hugh Breslin also of 5TH year, made the audience both laugh uproariously and shiver in disgust with his portrayal of Sean Dóta, the aging farmer with an eye for the young and naïve Sive; Manus Dennison of TY, seemed born to play the role of Pats Bocock the bold yet decent tinker while Kevin Fletcher of 2nd Year impressed audiences with both his acting and singing talents in his portrayal of Bocock’s son Carthalawn. Finally, Eoin O’ Flaherty of TY gave a highly-convincing performance as the love-struck Liam Scuab.

Our next task was to fill the three female leads. Despite suggestions to dress three of our students in fetching dresses, we decided we would visit our neighbouring all-girls school, Sancta Maria College instead. Principal Geraldine Kennedy could not have been more supportive of our venture and kindly assisted us in the organising of auditions. The interest among the students was overwhelming and three girls were selected to join our cast. Catherine McDonald gave a highly-rated performance as the manipulative Mena; Ciara Hackett excellently portrayed timid and docile Sive, while Sara Lovic won over audiences with her performance as Nana.

Rehearsals began in earnest in October and the cast worked tirelessly after school, four evenings a week. It was truly inspiring to see the students’ willingness to tackle complex characters and to painstakingly address every minor detail of their character’s personalities in order to give a true and honest performance. Furthermore, it was tremendously rewarding to see our students really identify with and empathise with characters from a world so far removed from their own. They embraced the different accents, cultures and traditions and with this came a new understanding of “country folk”!

While the cast focused on rehearsing their roles, the numerous students and staff on the Production team kicked into gear. There was an endless list of tasks to be completed – the stage, the set, flooring, seating, lighting, sound, props, advertising, tickets, costumes and make-up all had to be organised. And in a school where a production of such magnitude had not been seen in 20 years – it made for quite the daunting list! We needn’t have worried however, as while hard work had certainly been anticipated; the generous outpouring of support could only have been imagined. Parents, students, staff and people from the locality came together to ensure that “Sive” would be a resounding success. And a success, it most certainly was.

In the weeks before the first performance, visitors to Colaiste Eanna, commented on the buzz about the school and the great air of excitement. In the end, no one can forecast, when the lights go up and the actors take their positions on stage, just how a performance will go. Although we hoped for the best, we could never have anticipated the amazing response from the audience to the incredibly high quality and professional production created by the cast and crew.

All involved have not only laid the foundations for future theatrical productions but have set a standard so high that both amateur and professional productions alike would be proud to reach.

Our production of “Sive”, succeeded in not only revealing the wealth of talented actors we have in our school but it also succeeded in bringing together the entire school and local community. We have successfully resurrected the school’s tradition of staging a play and laid the foundations and set the bar very high for future theatrical productions in Coláiste Éanna.