Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tomás Mac Anna

I came across Tomás Mac Anna when he produced, directed, and often wrote, our school pageants in the early 1960s. These usually illustrated some aspects of Irish history, factual or legendary. They were very elaborate and used the latest effects in sound and lighting. They were the nearest thing to an Irish version of swashbuckling.

Tomás was very creative and generated great enthusiasm among the participants. He was also a stickler and a perfectionist and could, at times, be very grumpy.

We didn't exactly make our own costumes, but we did make crowns for kings and helmets for warriors.

We got so good at this, under his tuition, that he had us make similar artifacts for Geamaireachtaí na Nollag in the Abbey. These Christmas pantomimes were a hoot.

The serious Abbey actors treated them like an R&R break and ad libbed their way through them with great gusto and enjoyment. They also tailored each performance to its audience, often lampooning teachers from the stage and in front of their classes whom they had brought along as part of their Irish language "education".

These were quality actors, such as the late TP McKenna, and they really had a ball on stage. And there in the background, egging them on, was Tomás.

I'm not a theatre person, so I had no contact with him after I left school. But I know he was widely respected and you can read an appreciation by Joe Dowling which covers the later period.

You can read the 1963 school concert programme which included the play, Íosagán, written by Pádraig Pearse and directed by Tomás Mac Anna, and a pageant, Fíon Spáinneach, which he both wrote and directed himself.

Go n-éirí leis i nGlóir-Réim, nó b'fhéidir i nGeamaireacht, na bhFlaitheas.

Along comes Godot


Anonymous said...

There's a great drama and music teacher in my kids' primary school. Some of the more well-heeled parents were a bit taken aback when they realised she had written and scored a musical called Strike! and that their little darlings were being rehearsed as agitators.
You were lucky to have such a good one yourself.

Anonymous said...

"they realised she had written and scored a musical called Strike! and that their little darlings were being rehearsed as agitators."

Brilliant. :)

Póló said...

Just spotted Tomás's tombstone in a graveyard in Bray. I've added it into the post. Apart from the Godot reference the two solar lights are a nice touch. Tomás was always into innovative lighting.