The While Lady Drama Group was founded back in 1999 when two members of Durrow Development Forum formed a ‘working group’ with the express aim of establishing some sort of variety or drama group which would help to develop the arts in Durrow.
It was recommended at the time that we speak to a certain Dick Bradish (now deceased R.I.P) from our neighbouring town of Abbeyleix who was by all accounts a guru when it came to amateur dramatics and whom it was felt would be helpful in guiding us in the right direction. We were most certainly lead in the right direction as this man, who had years of experience in both acting and directing amateur plays, could not have been more enthusiastic, so much so that he offered to direct our first production.
In the Summer of 1999, we advertised in local newsletters and press for anyone remotely interested in taking part in any stage of the process to contact us and we came up with enough of a cast to stage three short one act plays. And so the White Lady Drama Group was born (Incidentally the name is derived from the name given to a folly on the grounds of Castle Durrow of the same name, but therein lies another dramatic tale!).
In November of 1999, the group played to full houses in The Castle Arms Hotel for three nights and proved a real hit with locals seeing their friends, sons and daughters acting, in some cases for the first time. Since then we have staged a production each November to very satisfied audiences and in addition to the core members who have been there from day one, others have come and gone for various reasons, be it moving onto college or whatever. All in all we have had upwards of 40 people involved on and off stage since the group was formed. The comraderie that is felt within the group during rehearsals and on the week of staging our show, is such that word spreads and new people come along each year to get involved – having been recommended to do so by a friend who has already enjoyed the experience.
Since then, among other things, the group have staged a play every year, usually in the autumn. Our cast could number anywhere from five to fifteen depending on the demands of a particular production. As a result we are always on the hunt for new blood to assist in every aspect of the process because apart from the cast there are another 10-15 people required lo pull together to make the whole thing work, from stage crew, lighting experts, prompters and most importantly; tea makers!!! While wc take our ‘craft’ seriously, we have a very good time doing it!
It takes about 3 months from the time we start reading the play in early September to the ‘Wrap’ party in late November during which time we aim to socialise and memorise in equal measures. In addition to the minds of all involved being opened to the world of amateur drama and all that it takes lo stage a production, some real solid friendships have been formed since inception and this aspect of any group must surely be as valuable as the original purpose of the group itself.
At various times throughout the year we contribute in one way or another to the various festivals i.e. The White Lady Drama Group always put a very entertaining entry in the St Patricks Day Parade, we run a workshop as part of the Summer Camps for small children within the Scarecrow Village on the Green during the Durrow Scarecrow Festival and we contribute some money towards the Senior Citizens party every year, for as well as being a deserving cause, this age group form a good portion of our audience.
As far as running the group financially is concerned, we are self-financing in the main, aiming to spend no more than we take in on door and raffle ticket sales, but we have been recipients on a few occasions of Laois County Council Arts Act Grants awards for which we were very grateful and this money has assisted us with the cost of lighting, costumes etc…
Amateur Dramatics were very strong in Durrow in the 50′s and 60′s so we, the thespians of this generation arc very honoured and proud to carry on such a sociable and enjoyable tradition.
Phone: Anne Conroy (086) 6479069.
Address: Mary Street, Durrow, Co. Laois.