The Group

Masquerade Drama Group is based in Arklow and was reformed just over eleven years ago. Its aim is to provide audiences with high quality drama catering for a diverse and broad spectrum of tastes. They produce at least one full length and a one-act production each year. They participate annually in the Bray One Act Festival where they have won several awards. This, however has been their first ever venture into the One Act Festival Circuit and they agree that it has been a truly amazing experience!!

The Play
"The Bear" is an adaptation by Brian Friel of the original work by Anton Chekhov, first staged in 1888. Chekhov had dashed the farce off early in his writing career "to while away the time"; it proved so popular in his day that it became a mainstay of his income ever after, one of which he was privately a little ashamed. It is a youthfully brash satire in which we are invited to feel superior to the characters, particularly the protagonists, whose wrestling with their deep-seated anger towards and distrust of the opposite sex pushes them to ridiculous extremes.
The story takes place in the home of an affluent Russian widow, Elena Popova, who has been mourning the death of her promiscuous husband for a year. Her aged servant Luka urges her to give up her secluded life, but Elena insists that she will remain faithful to her husband even if he never did to her. Then her home is invaded by a boorish creditor, the misogynist lieutenant Gregory Smirvnov, who demands that Elena pay him money her husband owed him or he will go bankrupt - and will not leave until she does so. Sparks fly between them leading, inevitably, to farcical, satiric romance.
Friel's version of The Bear was first produced at the Gate Theatre in Dublin on 5 March 2002. Alastair Macaulay of the Financial Times found it "superbly funny, vivid, keenly alert to Chekhov's modern sensitivities to gender issues…"
Brian FrielThe Author
One could spend hours writing about the writer of this particular adaptation (i.e. Friel) or the author of the original (i.e. Chekhov) but suffice it to say that each in his own right is one of the greatest playwrights that their lands have produced - the Russian Chekhov and the Irish Friel - and this in lands that have a noble tradition in drama and storytelling. Ireland's greatest living dramatist, Brian Friel, has long been fascinated by Russian writers, and by the work of Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) in particular. The similarities between Friel - sometimes called 'The Irish Chekhov' - and the Russian writer have often been commented upon. The two dramatists do have much in common. Both Friel and Chekhov are noted short story writers as well as playwrights. Both create a sense of old worlds dissolving while characters are left behind in their own realities. They have often been compared for their finesse in combining humour and tragedy.
Friel himself mused about his affinity to Russian writers: "I am not sure why I find the late-nineteenth-century Russians so sympathetic. Maybe because the characters in the plays behave as if their old certainties were as sustained as ever - even though they know in their hearts that their society is in melt-down and the future has neither a welcome nor even an accommodation for them. Maybe a bit like people of my own generation in Ireland today. Or maybe I find those Russians sympathetic because they have no expectations whatever from love but invest everything in it. Or maybe they attract me because they seem to expect that their problems will disappear if they talk about them - endlessly."
Interesting Bits
TRIVIA 1: Friel won Broadway's 1992 Tony Award as author of Best Play winner "Dancing at Lughnasa." Previously, he had twice been nominated as author of a Best Play nominee: in 1966 for "Philadlephia, Here I Come!" and in 1969 for "Lovers."
TRIVIA 2: Thirteen of Friel's plays have been set either in the fictional town of Ballybeg" or in its environs
TRIVIA 3: The smallest ever printed book (as of November 2012) measures 0.9 x 0.9 mm and is an edition of "Chameleon" by Anton Chekhov
TRIVIA 4: The Chekhov Acting Technique much admired and studied by many actors is named for Michael Chekhov, a nephew of Anton's
QUOTE 1: "To remember everything is a form of madness." (Friel)
QUOTE 2: "People with a culture of poverty suffer much less from repression than we of the middle class suffer and indeed, if I may make the ... suggestion with due qualification, they often have a hell of a lot more fun than we have." (Friel)
QUOTE 3: "Love, friendship and respect do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something" (Chekhov)
QUOTE 4: "Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other" (Chekhov)

Thank You

West Waterford Drama Festival 2020 – Message from Festival Director Clodagh Walsh


If using Sat Nav, be careful when inputting. There are at least three Ballyduffs in County Waterford. In particular, there is a village called Ballyduff about five miles from Waterford City. This is not us! Coordinates 52° 08' 51" N, 8° 03' 06" W will get you pretty near the correct Ballyduff! more


About The Festival

Since 1981, West Waterford Drama Festival is held in Ballyduff during March. Over three decades of dramatic excitement, community endeavour, investment in friendship and sheer good fun. All driven by an ethos of volunteerism, community and good humour. more

Supported by Waterford City &
County Council's Arts Festivals Grants