Michelle O'Rourke and Cuan Muyllaert in Navan Theatre Group's 'Translations'.

Navan Theatre Group stages 'Translations’

Navan Theatre Group next week stages Brian Friel's award winning drama 'Translations' in Solstice Arts Centre, Navan. This production marks the 30th anniversary of the play's first performance in the Guildhall in Derry in September 1980. That first cast included Liam Neeson as Doalty and the late Mick Lally as Manus. This year, the group says it is privileged to be presenting the work of Brian Friel, who is regarded as Ireland's greatest living playwright. In the years since its premiere, Translations has been acclaimed as Friel's finest work. The modern classic engages the intellect as well as the heart and connects deeply through Friel's insightful understanding of how communities respond when their lives and existence are under threat. The play also speaks the language of the heart in the poignant love affair between Yolland, a British officer, and a local girl, Máire. The action takes place in late August 1833 at a hedge school in the town land of Baile Beag, an Irish speaking community in County Donegal. Nearby, a recently arrived detachment of the Royal Engineers is camped. They are here making the first Ordnance Survey of Ireland. For the purposes of mapping, the local Gaelic place names have to be recorded and translated into English. In examining the effects of this operation on the lives of the local community, Brian Friel skillfully reveals the far reaching personal and cultural effects of these actions which are, at first sight, purely administrative. The cast of ten, the production team and director are in rehearsal since September in preparation for this challenging and engaging drama. The cast includes some well known local theatre performers and some who are new to the stage. Well known to local audiences are Bridget and Doalty, the rebellious duo played by Ciara Cassoni and Nigel Ryan. David Thornton returns to stage as the mystical Jimmy Jack and his friend the hedge-school master Hugh, is played by John O'Sullivan who has acted on a number of occasions with Navan Theatre Group. Hugh's two sons are played by the experienced Darragh Feeney as Owen, and Séamus McMenamin who makes his stage debut as Manus. Katy Leech takes on the challenging role of Sarah. Embedded in the drama is the impossible romance between Lieutenant Yoll, played by Cuan Muyllaert, and Máire, performed by Michelle O'Rourke. Des Lynch a stalwart of theatre and musicals in Navan over the years is Captain Lancey, the British officer who is in command of the entire mapping exercise. Translations is directed by Caitríona Heslin who has continued to bring new and exciting drama to the Solstice stage, and is this year building on the experiences of previous productions such as 'Lady Windermere's Fan' and 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Navan Theatre Group is a community based drama group and relies heavily on voluntary effort and the support of groups and the general public in Navan and the surrounding areas, within the Group there is a deep appreciation of this support. Translations runs from Wednesday 24th to Sunday 28th November at 8pm in the Solstice Arts Centre, Navan. Tickets €15/€13 from (046) 909 2300, or www.solsticeartscentre.ie.