Keep your creativity flowing with Fishamble's #TinyPlayChallenge
In these challenging times, Fishamble - along with many of our colleagues in the wider Irish artistic community - is working hard to keep imaginations lively, communities engaged - and most of all offer people the opportunity of creative expression. We asked our audiences: Would you welcome the challenge of exploring your thoughts and feelings through drama? Do you have a dramatic story that you feel the urge to work out for yourself, and maybe share with your fellow citizens?
Below is one of the chosen plays from our weekly submissions.
In Loving Memory of Margaret Maher
12.30pm Thursday 12th of March 2020.
Littleton, Co. Tipperary.
Geraldine and Margaret sit on a cushioned bench inside the window of “Margaret’s Unisex Hair Salon” facing each other, each resting an arm on the windowsill. RTÉ Radio One on a low volume in the background. They sip at the remains of their mugs of tea.
Margaret: Will you have another?
Geraldine: No no I’ll head off now, I only popped in for a quick hello…
Margaret gives a slow nod in knowing satisfaction. Geraldine has been sitting in her coat clutching her keys since half nine, saying she's leaving since she arrived
Geraldine: Ah go on so, only if you're not busy.
Margaret: Do I look busy?
Margaret angles herself off the bench and over to the tea and coffee station. She fills up the kettle and sets it to boil then lets out a sigh of comfort as she sits in the nearby salon chair. She swivels it around to face the window.
Margaret: 10 years ago now you wouldn't be able to hear yourself think with the trucks roaring past on that road. Now look out, not even a bicycle.
Geraldine: I know sure. Did any of them ever stop off?
Margaret: In here?
Geraldine: Ya. Truck drivers need hair cuts too.
Margaret: Now that I think of it one fella did, ya. Years ago now. Polish fella I think he was. Was he? No. Cork.
Geraldine: You should put up one of them signs on the motorway the way the Horse and Jockey did. Half their crowd above is coming in off it for a bite to eat.
Margaret: Ya. Maybe.
The kettle clicks. Margaret makes two fresh mugs of tea and settles back down on the bench at the window. She looks out and across the road at the boarded up newsagents and post office.
Geraldine: Kay was in good form I thought.
Margaret: She was, faith. Despite everything.
Geraldine: Oh I know sure. Desperate.
Geraldine: You gave her a lovely set Margaret. She skips out that door every time after you've spruced her up. A real lift, you can see it in her.
Margaret: Ah sure, all part of the job, faith.
Geraldine: I mean it now Margaret. Essential for her head, not just her hair. Same as myself...
Margaret: Oh sure who are you tellin'?
They each give a light hearted scoff and take another sip of tea with a smile
Geraldine: Jesus she was all talk about Varadkar's announcement later.
Margaret: Well it must be more than whispers she's heard, Sinead text me there a while ago about it oo.
Geraldine: Did she? You never told me.
Margaret: I didn't want to get you worked up.
Geraldine: Jesus, Mary and Holy Saint Joseph! All the schools and... what else did she say?
Margaret: I don't know now we'll have to tune in. Sinead's already asking me about minding the kids while she's on call.
Geraldine: You can't sure. Sure you're here.
Margaret: I'm here, faith.
They sip at their tea and exhale in contemplation.
Geraldine: It's hardly as serious as that, is it? I read in the Independent that it's just like a flu. They're hardly going to send all the kids in the country home over a feckin' flu!
Margaret: Flus can kill too Geraldine. I think what it is, is that it's more contagious than they realized.
Geraldine: Bit much though if you ask me...
Margaret: I don't know Geraldine. If they locked us all into our houses I wouldn't be surprised.
Geraldine: Jesus I'll have nowhere to go for my mug of tea!
Margaret: Now! You'll have to get used to the taste of your own tea!
They raise their mugs with a nod and a laugh to each other. The mugs and laughter lower as they both turn their heads to look out the window.
Margaret cocks an ear towards the radio
Margaret: That's him now!
Margaret springs off the bench and rushes to turn up the volume on RTÉ Radio One as Geraldine straightens herself up, spilling some tea on her lap and trying to dampen it down with her hand.
We hear Leo Varadkar addressing the nation:
"Yesterday, the World Health Organization formally described it as pandemic and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) updated its guidelines advising us all to act early to be effective. Our own National Public Health Emergency Team met last night and has issued new advice to Government. We are acting on that advice today. There will be many more cases. More people will get sick and unfortunately, we must face the tragic reality that some people will die."
Geraldine listens intently, staring at the floow and concentrating hard on what she is hearing. Margaret stands with one hand on her hip, the other on the radio. She looks around at her salon; her livelihood and a place of connection for so many in her community.
Margaret makes her way back to the bench and finds Geraldine's gaze.
Margaret: We'll be fine Geraldine. We'll be fine, faith.
Geraldine nods with a sigh of relief at her life long friend's reassurance. They give each other's hand a squeeze of solidarity. Geraldine and Margaret continue to listen to Leo's advice and they turn to loock back out at Littleton.
Roseanna Purcell is an actor and writer from Co. Tipperary based in Dublin. Performance credits include Signatories at Kilmainhaim Gaol, Midsummer at Project Arts Centre and A Holy Show on recent Nationwide Tour. Writing credits include Test Copy. Twitter handle is @RoseannaPurcell
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