Schools Playwright Awards
Internationally Acclaimed Playwright Opens 2023 Schools Playwright Awards
The 2023 Schools Playwright Competition, held in conjunction with the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival Fringe and sponsored by the Athlone Credit Union saw Transition Year Students from twelve counties compete – Cavan, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Longford, Meath, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary and Westmeath. This competition, now in its tenth year, involved the creation of a one act play on the theme of ‘Environment’.
Cormac Reilly, a transition year student from Glenamaddy, Co. Galway is the overall winner of the above competition. Cormac’s play, ‘Smoke and Machines’, was chosen from a shortlisted number of twenty finalists and his play was performed at the awards ceremony in the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone, on Tuesday 25th April. The winning play was cast and directed by Alfie Kilduff and Joe McCarrick. Guest speaker at the event was internationally acclaimed playwright Christian O’Reilly. He himself had two of his plays amongst the finalists of last year’s all Ireland. Addressing the students, Christian described the ups and downs of his own writing career and urged the young playwrights to persevere, to trust their instincts, to write from the heart and to embrace failure as a great teacher.
Cormac Reilly from Lisnageeragh, Co. Galway, showcases the factory machine revolution success and the by-product, smoke. One factory worker, ahead of his time, draws a connection between the smoke and coughing problems among the community of workers. He cautiously approaches the boss and battles to get his point across.
In second place is, from Wilson’s Hospital School, Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath, is Veronica Ogunleye with her play ‘The Crimson Night’. Veronica is one of a set of triplets from Mullingar. Her play is centred on a young boy’s premonition of disaster where his warning falls on deaf ears and everything including the boy’s dear friend is lost in a mysterious attack.
In third place is Noah Winders, son of Natasha and David Winders, Castleknock, from Castleknock College, Dublin with his play ‘In the Lion’s Nest’. This play highlights the plight of two people, a man and a boy, with Down’s syndrome, and the discrimination they have to face while struggling to take their place in society as the wonderful people they are but their innate talents are waiting to be appreciated.
In fourth place is Daniel Scally, son of Delphina and Declan Scally, Ballycommon, Tullamore, a Transition Year Student from Tullamore College, Riverside, Tullamore, Co. Offaly with his play ‘Intrinsically Linked’. This play presents a universal family applicable scene. Two boys have opposing opinions about life, recycling and living sustainably. One boy shows total cynicism for any ‘Save the world notions’ his brother has until they are both
conscripted to join the army for WWII service. Eventually one son returns home with a change of heart.
In fifth place is Grace Hennessy, a TY student from Calasanctius College, Oranmore, Co. Galway with her play ‘No Signal’. Here, a mother and daughter’s close relationship is threatened by the daughter’s new phone environment. The bond of friendship disintegrates into a time of arguments until they willingly learn the lesson and accept that there is no signal.
In sixth place is Sean Brennan, son of Richard and Fiona Brennan, Kiltoom, Co. Roscommon, a TY student from Athlone Community College with his play ‘Controlled Environment’. This play explores the aftermath of a toxic environment where life has ceased to exist for 300 years apart from a few survivors who have woken up in a concrete bunker after an induced sleep. They leave the bunker in the hope that safety can be found.
Perhaps the air is no longer toxic.
Regina Bushell, Festival Director, opened the prize-giving ceremony. Billy Nott, Co-ordinating judge for the competition, acted as MC. Full credit is due to the significant amount of work undertaken by Margaret Egan, Schools Playwright Co-Ordinator, who organised the competition again this year.