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Drama group to play part in regenerating Churchill

A NEW drama group is being set up in Churchill in order to raise funds for the village development project. Tonight will see the group meet for the first time and they are looking for actors and volunteers to get involved.

Churchill resident Colin Blades came up with the idea for the drama group and has been involved in the theatre since he was a child. He told the Donegal News: “I come from a theatrical background. My greatgrandad was on stage with Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. It’s kind of in the blood. My eldest daughter is the wardrobe manager at Leeds Playhouse and her partner is a lighting tech/designer. They have both been in the West End and have toured for ten years and now they have settled in Leeds. I am hoping to get them involved and give it a West End touch.”

Having set up the Termon Drama Group four years ago Mr Blades went on to put on workshops in An Grianán Theatre covering playwrights such as Arthur Miller and William Shakespeare. Now he is turning his attention closer to home to raise as much funds as possible for the Churchill Development Committee who recently opened a new playground in the village.

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The development group have raised €40,000 so far but have another €12,000 to go in order to finish off the pavement for the playground. They also want to secure more lighting for the village, finish off a running track and plans for a Community Centre are also in the pipeline. Ian Gallagher, Chairman of the Churchill Development Committee, said the community are really behind the project and there has been a great reaction to the opening of the playground.

Mr Gallagher said: “The playground has brought a bit of life back to the village especially during the summer. It has helped all the businesses. We are the gateway to Glenveagh and a lot of the traffic is coming from Letterkenny through the village to Glenveagh. The more things we do the more they will tend to stop. The community is really behind it. We are looking for as many volunteers and actors as possible.”

Ten actors, five men and five women, will be needed to put on the play ‘Widows Paradise’, a three act comedy written by Sam Cree in 1966. It is set in the Ards peninsula where five ladies are embarking on a “strictly women only” holiday. The holiday is thrown into disarray with the arrival of no nonsense alpha-male Harry, his side-kick Ernie and Harry’s young son Alan along with a couple of surprise visitors in the form of Wilfred and Farmer John. Mr Blades said he chose playwright Sam Cree because his scripts are really accessible, they appeal to all ages and people can really associate with the characters.

Churchill native Jane McCormack, who is now living in Downings, is putting herself forward for a role in the upcoming production.

She said: “I got involved because I always wanted to act but I have never been brave enough. Years ago there was a man in the village that made films about local history and my dad would have always been involved at the drop of a hat. He loved it and I always said I would love to do it but I didn’t know if I would be brave enough or remember lines.”

Jack Pearson, who works locally in the Adult Education Centre in Gartan, has also put himself forward for the play.

“I have done a lot of events in the community and when this came up I thought I have never had the opportunity to do a play or drama before and it is something I don’t think you should pass up if you get the opportunity to do it,” he said.

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The first meeting of the Churchill Players Drama Group will take place tonight (Thursday) at 8pm in the back room in Callaghan’s Bar. Anyone who would like to act, help back stage or front of house is asked to attend the informal meeting.  No experience is necessary and the group intend on meeting two nights a week to begin with. The play will be put on over the May Bank Holiday weekend with all proceeds going towards the Churchill development.

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