Schools playwright competition draw large Midlands entry

Emma Flaherty, Sacred Heart Secondary School, Tullamore, winner of the award in 2018, receives her accolade from the previous prize recipient, John Croghan

Emma Flaherty, Sacred Heart Secondary School, Tullamore, winner of the award in 2018, receives her accolade from the previous prize recipient, John Croghan

The successful submission to this year’s RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival Schools Playwright competition will be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday April 30, in the Dean Crowe Theatre, with a vast range of entries received from transition year students of Midlands region secondary schools.

From small beginnings a few years ago the competition attracted 283 one act plays on the theme of ‘Connections’, which were submitted by 165 girls and 118 boys.

The competition framework is in keeping with the philosophy of transition year programming in that it can be adapted to incorporate preparations or reflect on the experience of the students’ school drama or musical production. This is a learning-led rather than an exam-driven discipline which places the onus on the students’ shoulders to engage meaningfully with characters in script-writing for a suitable performance.

Guest speaker at the awards ceremony will be Leitrim’s Seamus O’Rourke who is an award-winning actor, director, script-writer and poet. He has written 15 plays, four one-man shows and toured extensively in Ireland with ‘Livin’ Dred Theatre Company’, ‘Moth Productions’ and his own touring company ‘Big Guerrilla Productions’. He’s a regular on national radio and TV and his poems, stories and recitations have had several million hits on YouTube and social media.

The top six award winning scripts from students from the various schools will be announced and certificates presented. The winning script writer will then be presented with a trophy and afterwards the victorious play, directed by Alfie Kilduff, will be staged and recorded by RTÉ, with the national television host providing some coverage of the event on the ‘News2day’ programme.

Half scholarships, valued at €210 each, are provided for two students by one of our judging panel, Eamonn O’Donoghue, Director of Stagewise Drama School, with the lucky recipients availing of the unique opportunity to experience a workshop drama week of skill development in a supportive environment at Kings Hospital School in Dublin.

The judging panel, led by Billy Nott, coordinating judge and committee member, are, Clive Darling, Paddy Martin, Eamonn O’Donoghue, Jimmy Hoban, Martina Mulligan, Joe McCarrick, Sally Knight, Gayle Tarmey and Aideen Egan.

The judges had a difficult task but, as they are all well accomplished in various aspects of theatre production and performance and enjoyed the challenge of picking a successful submission.

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