For the second year running N.U.I.M. dramasoc has picked up an award at I.S.D.A. (Irish Student Drama Awards). I.S.D.A. showcases the best of student theatre in the 32 counties of Ireland. This year's festival (2007) was hosted by Queens University Belfast and featured drama societies from universities and I.T.s all over Ireland. The standard is always extremly high and the craic on the daring side of mighty. Our entry this year was Prism of Flesh, a student written play by Shane Ward. Shane also co-directed the play with Edel Maher.
The play is a demanding piece with a large cast and it was a brave decision for the commitee to choose the play for the competition but a highly popular three night run in Febuary proved that the production would do the society proud.
Despite a very tight get-in and some problems arising from being only the second play to be performed in the festival, the first in the Black-box theatre, the show was a success and adapted well to the intimate space of the Black box theatre in Belfast.
The acting in the play was uniformly strong but the special connection forged between Will Woods (Blind Man) and Aileen Moon (Emer) shone through. They played a married couple with an unconventional relationship. Will's performance deftly shifted from tyrannical to tender and back again. His presence on the stage and the emotional depth of his performance captured the complexity of his character perfectly and the physical precision in his performance as a blind man left everybody dazzled. Aileen's performance exuded an effortless sexuality. Poised and technically assured she controlled the stage. She portrayed a character paradoxically both submissive and deviant. But it was when the two actors came together that something special happened. Heartbeats dropped in the audience when the two characters came together on the stage. During one scene, Blind Man felt the features of Emer's face with his hand in an action that was at once intimate and compassionate but also an uncomfortable violation. In that aura of tension and wonder a great theatrical moment had been created. It was no suprise that both actors picked up nominations then as Best Supporting Actors. Given the quality of the festival it is a significant achievement for two highly talented young actors, both of whom came into the production late to replace origional cast-members who were forced to pull out.
The costumes and make-up in the play were under the meticulous supervision of Maeve Leahy. She had a interesting canvas to work on in the play. There was the characters of Nature, three seperate actors each representing one of the primary colours of light. She made the costumes herself and each costume was a striking use of light and captured the energy of the character perfectly. Also impressive was the costume and make-up of the spirits, a group of five actors, whose ghostly, threatening presence Maeve captured with white and black face paint and simple black clothing. They cut an intimidating presence on stage. Maeve also ensured the rest of the characters clothes suited their characters perfectly and the veils of Robin and Daughter evoked an uncomfortable mood in the early stages of the play.
Maeve picked up best costume and make-up for the society and it was an honour well deserved.
Congragulations to all involved and hopefully N.U.I.M. dramasoc will continue to be successful at I.S.D.A. in years to come.