'Our expectations for our evening at the theatre were not very high'

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'Our expectations for our evening at the theatre were not very high'


Frank remembers theatre productions in Malawi.


Frank Gaynor


Trinity College Dublin




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Frank Gaynor

Is Part Of

Marriage and Family


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Malawi, Africa

Temporal Coverage


Life Story Item Type Metadata


Back in Mulanje our attention turned towards Mulanje Club. One of our first visits to the Club was for a stage production of 'Hello Dolly' by the Club's Theatre Group. As we approached the Club the Clubhouse building looked particularly unimpressive and somewhat neglected. The fading green paint on the corrugated roof did not help. Our expectations for our evening at the theatre were not very high. For this reason we were very surprised when we saw the ladies arriving in long evening dresses, and the men in white shirts and bow ties. Inside the Club the side walls and the stage were decorated with hanging flowers. The performance from start to finish had an air of professionalism about it. We were enjoying the trappings of one of the last outposts of the British Empire. A couple of months later I agreed to take a part in the next production which was 'The Diary of Anne Frank'. I had never been on stage before. The rehearsals went well. Our Dutch producer, Bert, approached his task in a professional manner. He took me through some basic stage skills and I learned a bit from some more experienced colleagues. As we prepared for the curtain to go up on the first night the atmosphere backstage was intensely exciting. I remember comparing it with the minutes before the ball was thrown in for some of my hurling matches. I was so preoccupied with my own small part that I did not give much thought to what the play was all about. It came as a great surprise to me when I noticed two elderly ladies in the front row wiping tears from their faces. The events that we were recalling had happened just 25 years previously. I treasured this first stage experience for many years. I knew from early on that I would never be in line for an Oscar, but this did not stop me from making subsequent stage appearances. My attention soon turned to golf. After the routine initial soul - destroying weeks or months of trying to master the basics of the game, I improved sufficiently to be able to compete in local competitions. I received a strict schooling from the older tea planters who were sticklers when it came to following the Royal and Ancient Rules of Golf. At Mulanje the putting surface was fine sand. A T - shaped piece of timber was used to level the sand before putting. One weekend I travelled to Zomba with Chris, a Mulanje tea planter. On the Saturday afternoon I was one of the first golfers on the course. I played very well and came smiling back to the clubhouse with 44 stableford points. The last player off the course that evening put a damper on my celebrations when he came in with 45 points. In the bar we met Roofie, our host for the weekend. When we asked about ordering food in the bar Roofie assured us that it was not necessary as his wife would have a meal ready for us when we got back to his house. A couple of hours later we followed Roofie home. We were well ready for the promised meal at this stage. After a lengthy session of painful small talk Roofie's charming wife finally suggested that maybe we would like a bit of toast and a scrambled egg before we went to bed. After sharing one scrambled egg and one slice of toast we retired to a double bed. About every hour that night Chris would turn in the bed and say 'Jesus, I'm starving'. On the Sunday my golf did not go so well, and it was not due to indigestion.


Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


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