Last week the Glens Centre in Manorhamilton hosted the recording of Francisco, an exciting new collaboration between Ocean FM and local Leitrim theatre company Benbo Productions.
Based on the original theatre piece The Adventures Of The Wet Señor by well-known Irish actor and writer, Donal O’Kelly, this three-part radio serial is based on the extraordinary odyssey in Ireland of Francisco de Cuellar, a Captain in the Spanish Armada who was shipwrecked at Streedagh in 1588. De Cuellar wrote that he spent time with Dromahair chieftain O’Ruairc and fought for McClancy on the shores of Lough Melvin.
Writer/Director Donal O’Kelly is already known for his innovative approach to theatre and was inspired to write the play during his time as theatre artist-in-residence in the Glens Centre. Based on Donal’s concept of musical theatre, Francisco sees dialogue and narrative combine seamlessly with music and rhythm for a powerful, action-packed telling of the story of Francisco De Cuellar.
“Francisco De Cuellar must have been some buck to survive all that happened to him, and he seemed to find time to enjoy himself during his time in Ireland as well. His letter offers great possibilities for imaginative story-telling, and we’ve had a high time making up ways of putting the story on the radio through a combination of play-acting and music” says Donal.
The production was awarded funding through the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Sound and Vision funding scheme earlier this year and is considered a flagship cultural project for the region.
The series has as its foundation a specially created musical score and live performances by members of Kíla, locally based musicians Dee Armstrong , Rossa Ó Snodaigh and Seanan Brennan were joined by fellow Kila members Colm and Rónán Ó Snodaigh for this unique collaboration. The drama also features a strong mix of acting talent with actors Sorcha Fox, Jaimie Carswell, Darina Gallagher and Des Braiden bringing to life colourful characters from Irish history such as the rebel chieftain McClancy of Rossclogher, Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam and the redoubtable Don Francisco de Cuellar himself.
Francisco is based on the theatre piece The Adventures of the Wet Señor, which toured Ireland in 2010 to acclaim from the public and critics alike. It will be broadcast in three parts on Ocean FM in the coming Autumn.