The imminent return of the All-Ireland Drama Festival, curtain up for which commences in the Dean Crowe Theatre on Thursday, May 5, is a major boost for Athlone and the Midlands region as a return to post pandemic normality continues apace.
Arguably, the highlight occasion of the Midlands social calendar, the All-Ireland Drama Festival will provide a nine day veritable feast of amateur theatre with participating groups and their wealth of supporters flocking to Athlone to embrace what is certain to be a convivial atmosphere.
The 70th year of the All-Ireland Drama Festival, this is the first hosting of the prestigious occasion on the Athlone social calendar since 2019.
The official launch of the Festival took place in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin as participating drama groups from around the country gathered in anticipation of the prestigious occasion.
This year, the qualifying circuit comprised 33 drama festivals across the island of Ireland, with groups vying for a place on stage at the Dean Crowe Theatre.
Making her address during the official launch, Festival Director, Ms Regina Bushell, noted that the return of the All-Ireland Drama Festival will afford an opportunity for theatregoers to savour the magic of live amateur drama.
“The RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival Committee is looking forward to welcoming back festival audiences to the refurbished Dean Crowe Theatre in Athlone, where they can meet up with old friends, make new friends and come together once again experience the magic of live theatre.
“In addition to the usual challenges of competing in festivals around the country, drama groups had to contend with Covid-19 regulations when rehearsing and presenting their plays – some even braving the elements during outdoor rehearsals!
Continued on page 2
“At this year’s festival, theatregoers are in for a feast of drama, from two handers (including two from the same playwright ) to a brand-new Irish play, as well as a re-imagined classic myth,” Regina Bushell, Festival Director, said.
This year’s finalists are:
· Palace Players, County Cork, who will present ‘Chapatti’ by Christian O’Reilly, a poignant exploration of the importance of human companionship.
· Kilmeen Drama Group, County Cork, who will present Tom Murphy’s ‘Conversations on a Homecoming’ which takes us on a journey of self-discovery as friends gather after an absence of 10 years.
· Bunclody-Kilmyshall Drama Group, Co Wexford, who will perform another Christian O’Reilly play ‘The Good Father’ on May 7. The play reveals an unlikely love story following the unexpected consequences of a one night stand.
· Ballyduff Drama Group, County Waterford, who will perform the moving ‘Rabbit Hole’ a Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire which tells the story of a married couple, grieving the loss of their young son in a car accident.
· Butt Drama Circle, County Donegal, who present a brand-new play ‘An Incident with Dave Cotter’ on May 9. Set against the background of the events of Bloody Sunday, it was written and directed by actor, Shaun Byrne, a member of the award-winning group.
· Prosperous Dramatic Society, County Kildare, return to the festival to present the chaotic and at times savage comedy ‘God of Carnage’ by Yasmina Reza on May 10.
· Kilrush Drama Group, from County Wexford, will present the Edinburgh Fringe First Award winning ‘Class’ by Iseult Golden & David Horan on May 11, an explosive triple confrontation which is both funny and heart-breaking.
· Ballyshannon Drama Society, from County Donegal, will return to the festival to perform Arthur Miller’s first major work ‘All My Sons’ on May 12, an emotional play which has several twists and turns.
· Dalkey Players, from County Dublin, will close the festival on May 13. They will present ‘Eurydice’ by Sarah Ruhl, a re-imagination of the classic myth.
The All-Ireland Drama Festival concludes with a gala awards presentation ceremony to take place in the Radisson Blu Hotel on Saturday, May 14.
Tickets are currently on sale and can be booked through the Dean Crowe website at http://www.deancrowetheatre.com/ or at the theatre box office, phone (090 ) 6492129.