Drama on your doorstep
TWO actors who have spent most of their careers working on the east side of the country, but who are now living in rural Mayo, have taken the brave move of setting up their own professional theatre company. Their main goal is simple: to bring drama to the four corners of the county.
Paul Mekitarian, a Dublin native living in Cullintra, near Killawalla, and Hazel McLynn, a Sligo native living near Aghamore, are the two actors, and the company is called – appropriately for Mayo – Rain, Rocks and Reeks. Their first performance was on Saturday night last in the Town Hall in Galway.
Next stop is Ballina next week followed by a show in Kiltimagh, and the pair are hopeful that their performance of ‘Eden’, an award-winning play written by Eugene O’Brien, will be performed at many other venues around the county during the summer.
“We really enjoyed Saturday’s performance in Galway, but we’re now really looking forward to putting the play on before Mayo audiences. That’s the whole reason we started Rain, Rocks and Reeks. We want the people of Mayo to be able to enjoy drama on their own doorstep,” said Hazel, who trained as a dancer and actor in Dublin, before moving west with her Roscommon husband to live in Aghamore.
Paul is typically blasé when questioned about how the idea arose to set up a professional theatre company in rural Mayo.
“I met Hazel one might in The Linenhall, and a couple of weeks later I texted her and asked her did she want to start up a company in Mayo. She was all for the idea, and slowly but surely we decided on ‘Eden’ as our first production and then worked on getting venues. We’re still looking for more venues, but the response has been positive in the main,” said Paul.
“We have started with a production that only needs the two of us, but we intend in time to try and recruit other people and give some actors work locally.
“Our basic premise it to bring theatre to the west coast, we want to perform to western audiences and be home an hour after the show finishes. There are absolutely loads of places all over the county where we can put on a show, we’re not looking for a grand stage and thousands of people… A play like Eden can be performed in any hall.”
Despite his exotic-sounding surname (his great grandfather was Armenian), Paul is well aware of what life is like in rural Ireland.
“We chose ‘Eden’ as our first production, as I think people in Mayo will relate to it. It’s not a family play, it’s gritty, down-to-earth stuff, set in the midlands in pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland.” It centres on Billy and Breda, whose tenth wedding anniversary is looming. Despite having two young children, their marriage has spiraled into a stale monotony and the distance between them seems to grow by the day.
“Billy spends his time with the lads at the local pub, leaving me at home with the telly and the kids. He clings to booze, and fantasies about a younger woman, while Breda’s left clinging onto an inkling of optimism, believing that a big night out will rekindle the spark that once was there,” explains Hazel. Paul adds that if you liked RTÉ’s hugely popular television drama, ‘Pure Mule’, then you’ll like ‘Eden’.
‘Eden’ by Rain, Rocks and Reeks will be performed this coming Thursday, May 14 at 8pm in the Ballina Arts Centre and in Kiltimagh Town Hall on Friday, May 22. For more information of the performance or on the theatre company, contact Paul on 087 2896764.