Fermanagh director nominated for prestigious theatre award

Rosemary McKenna director

Local director Rosemary McKenna

A YOUNG Fermanagh director has been nominated for a prestigious Irish Times Irish Theatre Award for 2013.

Twenty-five-year-old Rosemary McKenna, whose parents, Liam and Mary McKenna, owners of the Manor House hotel, live in Coa, was named in the Irish Times on January 11 among three other nominees for the award.

Rosemary is nominated as ‘Best director’ for her work in ‘Way to Heaven’ by Juan Mayorga.
It was produced by Rough Magic Theatre Company,  after Rosemary had been selected for ‘SEEDS’, an artist development programme.

Rosemary worked as an assistant director on a number of Rough Magic’s shows, and worked at the Royal Court Theatre in London’s West End and travelled throughout Europe.

‘Way to Heaven’ was staged as culmination of this two year programme, a showcase of the skills developed over the two years, and as a formal introduction into the professional theatre world.

“I got my first opportunity to direct at university in the drama society in Trinity. From the outset I knew that I enjoyed it much more that acting, as I loved having complete creative control,” explained Rosemary, a former pupil of St Paul’s Irvinestown, Mount Lourdes Enniskillen, and an English Literature and Drama student at Trinity College.

“In my fourth year in college I specialised in Advanced Direction, staging a production of Enda Walsh’s ‘Bedbound’. Some producers from The New Theatre in Temple Bar saw the show, and commissioned it for a five week run the following summer. That meant that I had my first professional job lined up before graduating, and I’m glad to say things have been pretty busy since.”

It was a few months after finishing college that the director was chosen for the ‘SEEDS’ programme, and, for the production she was nominated for, Rosemary describes it as ‘large scale’ and ‘ambitious’.

“The play itself is by a Spanish writer called Juan Mayorga and is based on the true story of a concentration camp in the Czech Republic called Theresienstadt. When Red Cross officials requested access to the camps to investigate claims of mass murder and huge maltreatment of the Jews, the Nazi’s transformed this camp into a model town with banks, shops and schools. They forced the prisoners to pretend that everything was normal, and when the Red Cross visited they were completely fooled by the charade.”

The cast comprised of fourteen people, including five children and a trio of violinists.

“With ‘Way to Heaven’ there was a big leap from what is written in the script, which is quite sparse and open, to what we created on stage. The way we presented the story was quite unexpected and unconventional, which the audiences seemed to enjoy,” Rosemary continued.

“This is my first nomination, which came as a brilliant surprise because it’s unusual for a director to be nominated so early in their career. I am delighted to be nominated alongside some incredibly experienced and talented directors whose work I greatly admire. The Irish Times Theatre Awards hold a lot of prestige, and it’s an honour to nominated in such a competitive category.”

The awards ceremony takes place on Sunday February 23 at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The judges are Alan O’Riordan, Dr Emilie Pine and Fergus Cronin.

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