Monday, March 28, 2011

Getting My Irish Up

I have become a big fan of the Bastrop Opera House and the company of players who put on musical and theatrical productions through the year. The setting is a historic building that has been restored to its original beauty after years of service as a movie house, teen center and the like. Today you walk into the entry way and you are greeted by deep red Victorian settees and chairs and by vintage dresses on mannequins. Reproduction tin ceilings (the original tin ceiling in the auditorium remains to display how it really used to be) and reproduction light fixtures set the mood as you pick up your ticket at the window and make your way into the smallish auditorium.

I re-discovered the pleasures of live theater a little over a year ago and have attended quite a few of their productions. Yesterday I caught the last performance of Echoes of Ireland, an original play written by a local couple with strong ties to Ireland. The two of them doubled as cast members in what was a fairly large cast of about 15. The setting was an Irish pub in 1939 and a poetry contest between two clans. Two of the judges had a private bet on the outcome of the contest, the winner of whom would be in possession of a parcel of land that one's ancestor had swindled from the other's ancestor. A secondary story involved a young couple at odds about getting married because the young man did not understand the young woman's need for security, which to her meant holding property in her own name. (Yes, the same property that was the subject of the aforementioned wager. It all works out in the end. For most everyone.)

The primary point of the play was to expose the audience to a wealth of poetry by various Irish poets. Each of the players would take their turn at center stage and dramatically recite poems of Irish humor, of Irish history, of Irish life. At various times the name Cromwell would be uttered, with the result that all 15 or so of the players would simultaneously spit on the floor. A small Celtic band provided opportunity for the singing of Irish folk songs and a little bit of dance. The audience was tapping their feet and clapping their hands on a regular basis. By the end of the performance, we all had a strong urge to speak in a brogue.

I am always pleasantly surprised to see how well the community supports the Opera House. Yesterday's matinee was the final performance for this play and it was very nearly sold out. I certainly enjoyed myself and I'm looking forward to the next play to hit the historic boards. What a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


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