A competition between Irish plays

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Perfecting the production: Taryn McKenna (left) and Sabrina Mangan rehearse "A Wake in the West," the Gaelic Park Players entry in the competition. | Supplied photo

If you go ...

What: Acting Irish International Theatre Festival 2013

Where: Emerald Room at Gaelic Park, 6119 W. 147th St., Oak Forest

When: The plays run from May 21-25, with the awards ceremony at 11 a.m., May 26.

May 21, 8 p.m.: The Gaelic Park Players presents “A Wake in the West,” by Michael J. Ginnelly.

May 22, 8 p.m.: The Tara Players of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada presents “Doubt: a Parable” by John Patrick Shanley.

May 23, 2 p.m.: Heads on Stage, of Dublin, Ireland, presents “Molly Sweeney,” by Brian Friel.

May 23, 8 p.m.: The Rochester Irish Players presents “Is Life Worth Living,” by Lennox Robinson

May 24, 2 p.m.: Cincinnati’s Irish American Theatre Group presents “Dancing at Lughnasa,” by Brian Friel.

May 24, 8 p.m.: Milwaukee Irish Arts presents “Eclipsed,” by Patricia Burke-Brogan.

May 25, 1 p.m.: Irish Theatre of Florida presents “Here We Are Again Still,” by Christian O’Reilly.

May 25, 7 p.m.: The Liffey Players Drama Society of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, presents “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” by Martin McDonagh.

More information is at (708) 687-9323.

Courtesy of Gaelic Park

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Bringing quality Celtic entertainment to the south suburbs, the Gaelic Park Players are again hosting the Acting Irish International Theatre Festival from May 21 to May 26. The lively competition promises to be spirited as acting groups from Ireland, Canada and the United States will soon tread the boards in eight different plays offering a variety of comedies and dramas.

The Gaelic Park Players, along with the other acting troupe participants in the festival, celebrate the traditions of the best in Irish plays. Larry Coughlin and Barney Farrelly, both members of the Gaelic Park Players and of Gaelic Park in Oak Forest, are excited to be involved again in hosting the competition that includes several outstanding plays.

“This is always an occasion that requires a lot of hard work and is also a great deal of fun,” Coughlin said.

Farrelly, who’s also been involved in almost every production brought to the stage by the Gaelic Park Players over the past several years, recalled that “the last time we hosted (the festival) was in 1999 at the Beverly Arts Center.”

Coughlin, the director for this year’s GPP entry, “A Wake in the West,” said the festival is an adjudicated competition, adding that this year’s judging staff includes Brad Armacost, a well-known Chicago actor. The judges will see all eight of the plays entered into the competition and render their awards on May 26. The play presentations and awards ceremony coincide with Gaelic Park’s annual Irish Fest that is scheduled May 24 to May 27.

Coughlin said the judges will view all the plays, noting the acting, staging, settings and more.

“They will really be taking in all aspects of the plays and each play as a whole,” he said.

All facets of staging the plays can be hectic, especially when dealing with several different groups and several different sets.

“We’ll all be helping taking down and putting up sets all through the week,” Farrelly said.

There will also be a few days with two different plays being staged on the same day.

“The festival is a wonderful way for all the actors to interact with each other and see what each of the groups has to offer,” says Coughlin, adding that there’s always something to be taken away from each presentation.

The acting ensemble members from Gaelic Park are no strangers to winning awards at this competition, including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress and Best Overall Play, Coughlin said.

The local entry

“A Wake in the West,” a comedy written by Michael J. Ginnelly, is the entry this year from the Gaelic Park Players. And, as is usual, Farrelly has a role in the play as the best friend of the recently deceased subject of the play that is fraught with genuinely funny moments.

“This is a simple story with plenty of comedy. Everyone who sees it likes it and it’s really doing well all over — Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, as well as here in the U.S.,” Coughlin said, noting that the play’s author is a tour-bus driver in Ireland.

The Gaelic Park Players recently completed their spring run of “A Wake in the West,” which was a hit with patrons. The all-volunteer cast and crew are looking forward to competing with their fellow actors, Coughlin said. “We’re planning on having a great time — it’s exciting to be competing with all these wonderful groups.”