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Youth theatre stages classic ‘The Crucible’


REHEARSALS Members of Mayo Youth Theatre rehearsing for their up coming production of ‘The Crucible’.

Áine Ryan

WITCH-HUNTING in the puritan town of Salem in the 1690s may be a world away from the lives of the players at Mayo Youth Theatre (MYT), but these teenagers and young adults are bound to have learnt some lessons about society’s propensity for exclusion and sexism as they rehearse for their upcoming staging of ‘The Crucible’.
Arthur Miller’s ground-breaking 1953 play – an allegory for the communist-persecuting McCarthyism of the 1940s and 1950s – is the dramatic challenge they have taken on for this summer’s production at Ballina Arts Centre, which will be staged this coming weekend. It is a dramatised and partially fictionalised story that draws on the Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the US from 1692 to 1693, which saw a town’s residents so gripped by histeria they turn on each other out of fear, paranoia and vengeance.
The production is directed and adapted by Ronán Colhoun, along with co-director and stage manager, Ciara Casey.
“Throughout the year, and also throughout the rehearsals in the run-up to the show, the entire cast have shown a tremendous amount of commitment, passion and drive, and put nothing less than 100 percent into their efforts,” Ronán Colhoun told The Mayo News.
“Each member of the cast brings a unique essence and  strength to the show, and has been an absolute honour and pleasure to both direct and work with. I honestly could not be prouder of each of the members and they have given their all throughout the year. They have flourished as both performers and as people, and have been absolute credits to both themselves and to the ongoing legacy of  Mayo Youth Theatre.”
Colhoun has been the facilitator for MYT since 2018, and, indeed, began his involvement with the group as a participant when he was 14 years old, remaining a member until he left school. While Colhoun pursued Theatre Studies at Inchicore College, he has also gained a wide range of experience through his involvement in many outside practices and events organised by Youth Theatre Ireland.
Cast members for ‘The Crucible’ are aged from 14 to 20 and hail from Ballina, Crossmolina, Foxford,  Knockmore and Lahardane.
Speaking to The Mayo News, Aoife O’Toole, Assistant Arts Officer, Mayo County Council, said: “Mayo Arts Service is proud to support Mayo Youth Theatre, which is now in its twentieth year and very much an integral part of youth arts in County Mayo. Ballina Arts Centre is its home and participation in MYT has been an invaluable experience for the large number of participants, some of whom have gone on to pursue careers in the arts. MYT not only facilitates the enjoyment of drama but also aims to promote, develop and support high quality youth theatre. Ronán Colhoun began his role as Youth Theatre Facilitator in September 2018 and has lead participants through a busy year. They have all been working hard towards ‘The Crucible’.” She added that she was really looking forward to watching the production.
Director of Ballina Arts Centre, Seán Walsh says he is also ‘really excited’ about the upcoming production.
“It’s Ronán’s first production with the group, and it looks great in rehearsals. They are a fabulous bunch of young people, with amazing talents. This is a chance for them to showcase those talents, and all the hard work they’ve put into this over the course of the past year will all be worth it when the lights go down on the opening night,” Walsh said.

Harnessing dramatic energy
ESTABLISHED in 1999, MYT is an initiative of Mayo County Council, aimed at those aged between 14 and 22 years with an interest in all aspects of drama, whether it is acting (for theatre or film), music, dance, sound, lighting, production management and scriptwriting.
MYT not only aims to facilitate the enjoyment of drama but also to promote, develop and support high-quality youth theatre. It espouses personal and social development to be equally important as the attainment of artistic and creative development skills.
MYT is a member of Youth Theatre Ireland. In fact, one of its actors, Caitlin Hebron is taking part in the National Youth Theatre production ‘Ask Too Much of Me’, by Dylan Coburn Gray, due to be staged at the Peacock Theatre from August 19 to 24. She is one of an ensemble of 16 young actors from around the country working with artistic director Veronica Coburn and playwright Dylan Coburn Gray. The play explores the idea of faith, following  young people living together outside the law during a turbulent period in 2018.

Mayo Youth Theatre presents ‘The Crucible’ at Ballina Art Centre on Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 20. For more, see www.ballinaartscentre.com