Diligent preparations continue apace as All-Ireland Drama Festival fast approaches

As preparations continue in earnest prior to the start of the RTE All-Ireland Drama Festival on April 27, the participating finalists were made aware of their performance date at a special event which took place in the Dean Crowe Theatre this week.

Speaking within the surrounds of the Dean Crowe Theatre, Festival Director, Ms Regina Bushell, stated that the RTÉ All-Ireland Drama Festival programme promised a bumper feast of drama, including two premieres and an action packed fringe festival.

“The 2023 RTÉ All-Ireland Drama Festival, under the auspices of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland (ADCI ), is delighted to welcome nine finalists to the competition this year. This is a very special year as the ADCI, founded in Athlone in 1953, is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

“Having seen most of the plays on the festival circuit, I am fully aware that the standard of the plays is very high and all will no doubt be reviewed under the watchful eye of this year’s adjudicator Paula Dempsey. The plays include a premiere of a new Irish play written by one of the group members, an Irish premiere, several amateur premieres and they will surface many emotions from excitement and delight to shock,” Ms Bushell stated.

The festival has launched a revamped website, http://www.dramafestival.ie, where all festival and fringe programme information is now available.

Participating Drama Groups

The 2023 festival sees the return of last year’s winners, Ballyduff Drama Group, who are presenting an exciting Irish premiere of ‘The Welkin’ by Lucy Kirkwood which only premiered in the National Theatre in 2020. The play is set primarily in 1759 and has a cast of 17.

Butt Drama Circle return with another premiere this time it’s a new three hander Irish play ‘Darkness Echoing’ written by Butt Drama member Shaun Byrne, following on from the success of last year’s ‘An Incident with Dave Cotter’. Shaun Byrne also directs and acts in the production.

Former double winners, Prosperous Dramatic Society, also return to participate in the festival performing an amateur premiere of ‘Oleanna’ by David Mamet, a 1992 two-hander about the power struggle between a university professor and one of his female students, who accuses him of sexual harassment.

Thurles Drama Group will present Conor MacPherson’s play, ’The Seafarer’. Sharky has returned home to Dublin to look after his ageing brother Richard who’s recently gone blind. The arrival of a stranger from the distant past, to join a game of cards means the stakes are raised ever higher.

No strangers to the festival, Ballyshannon Drama Society, return with their production of the Pulitzer Prize winning, ‘A Delicate Balance’ by Edward Albee. The play focuses on a wealthy middle-aged couple, who have their complacency shattered when their longtime friends appear at their doorstep.

Also returning are the Wexford Drama Group with the amateur premiere of the winner of the 2014 Molière Award for Best Play, Florian Zeller’s ‘The Father’ in a darkly humorous and deeply poignant translation by Christopher Hampton. Andre is a Parisian man facing persecution from all sides, and he refuses to take it any longer.

Former winners Dalkey Players are presenting ‘By the Bog of Cats’, Marina Carr’s play. Set in rural Ireland it follows the life of Hester Swaine, a woman whose joy is destroyed by the men in her life. The Bog of Cats inhabits ‘a bitter stretch of the Irish midlands, a sunken and frozen place, stalked by ghosts, grotesques and vengeful characters steeped in myth’.

Regulars at the festival and former winners, Newpoint Players will present ‘Happy Days’ the two-act play by Samuel Barclay Beckett. The play centres on a woman inexplicably buried under mounds of earth who reminisces about better days.

Dundalk Theatre Workshop will perform Brian Friel’s masterpiece ‘Faith Healer’. Frank Hardy, an itinerant healer, offers his unique cure to the most desperate and hopeless of people. Does he actually possess a gift or are these healings only tricks of the mind?

Tickets for the performances are on sale from tomorrow, Friday, April 14, and can be booked through the Dean Crowe Theatre website at http://www.deancrowetheatre.com/ or at the theatre box office, phone (090 ) 6492129. Admission for each performance is €22 with concessions (€20 ) are available.

The Athlone Festival will also have a packed programme of fringe events including fringe highlights the Annual Schools Playwright competition and the Athlone Film Festival. Now in its 10th year the playwright competition attracted entries from transition year students from 12 counties. Once again sponsored by Athlone Credit Union, the awards ceremony takes place on April 25.


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