A Derry woman has just scooped a major role in a play that received critical acclaim during the City of Culture year.
24 years-old Rachel Melaugh beat off stiff competition during auditions to win the part of Maggie Kelly in Brian Foster’s play From the Camp to the Creggan.
Rachel will now play the hard pressed young mother struggling to bring her family up with some dignity in Springtown Camp back in the early 60s - after Joanne O’Reilly who originally played Maggie had to reluctantly pull out the show for personal reasons.
Rachel will begin intensive rehearsals to learn the script in time for its second run in the Millennium Forum from Tuesday, 21 October 2014 to Saturday, 25 October 2014.
“I haven’t seen the show but I have heard so much about the play.” said Rachel
“I saw the call for auditions in the Derry Journal so I thought I would have a go. I thought I had done well at the auditions but I was aware that I was young for the part. I am delighted to have got it.”
Rachel says she’s up for the challenge with the role.
“I know I’ll learn a lot,” she said. “I’ve already worked with Shaunsy Coyle and Bill Waters in previous plays so that makes it easier.
“And I’m excited to be working alongside someone like Carmel McCafferty, Pat Lynch, Seamas Heaney and Gerry Doherty. There’s a good contrast there and I think I’ll have a lot to bring to the show.”
Thankfully learning lines is a skill that comes easy to Rachel.
“I’ll have the script off in a few days,” she said. “I’m lucky that I have a mind that learns lines easily. I starts rehearsals in August. I’ll be spending a week working with Shaunsy, my onstage husband first so that will definitely help.”
Congratulating Rachel on her role playwright Brian Foster said: “There was quite a bit of competition for the part. Rachel stood out because she’s a naturally feisty young lady whose personality came through in her audition. She possesses a strong voice and strong personality, attributes many of the mothers had back then. Okay, she’s only 24, but back in the 60s it was not uncommon for women of that age to be married with five or six kids.
“Maggie is typical of so many Derry mothers of that time who had a daily struggle just to put a meal on the table for their ‘wains’ and pay the likes of Cavendishes (a large furniture store that was situated in Bishop street where Poundstretcher is now) and the Provident Man, who sold vouchers for clothes and furniture to hard-pressed families at exhorbitant interest rates.
“But somehow these fantastic women of Derry managed to pull us all through against seemingly impossible odds.”
From the Camp to the Creggan is set in Springtown Camp and Derry’s Guildhall back in 1963. Harry Kelly, sick with his family’s impoverished living conditions, comes up with a unique plan to show up the ‘faceless men’ of Derry’s political establishment to the outside world. Communities across the city have been invited to enter a Christmas competition, to be held in the Guildhall, to find the best short nativity play. So Harry sits down and writes a play for the local children to perform.
Book your tickets at www.millenniumforum.co.uk