Programme announced for Athlone based 60th RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival

Prosperous Dramatic Society will have the honour of opening the 60th RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival when the curtain rises at the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone on Thursday May 3. With their production of Deadline by Robert Massey, the group hopes to follow on from their success at the event last year where they finished as runners-up.

The draw to decide the night on which each group will perform was made at the theatre on Easter Monday. Welcoming the nine finalists, festival director, Billy Nott expressed his congratulations to the groups on their success on making it to the final. “You are each of you winners in your own right and we are truly proud to have you here today and wish you well in the forthcoming finals in May,” he said.

Echoing these sentiments Sean Corcoran, chairperson of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland, under whose auspices the festival is run, said that he did not envy the task of adjudicator Brian Marjoribanks when he takes up his role on May 3.

Representing the festival’s main sponsors, RTÉ, Karina Buckley likened Athlone to the Athens of ancient Greece where people gathered to “worship at the altar” of drama.

Athlone mayor Alan Shaw said he looked forward to the nine nights of plays in early May and indeed to the final celebration night in the Radisson Blu hotel on Saturday May 12. “Our close relationship and working partnership with the festival committee ensures that the town looks its very best during festival week,” the mayor declared. In acknowledging the association of RTÉ he said, “It is clear that the role of RTE has been instrumental in the huge success story that surrounds the various drama festivals throughout the country and indeed the festival finals week here in Athlone.”

Current champions Kilmeen Drama Group from West Cork will be among four groups who are vying to win their third All Ireland title. The other contenders, Estuary Players, Dublin; Silken Thomas Players, Kildare; and Cornmill Theatre Group from Co Leitrim, will be expected to put in a strong challenge.

Ballyduff Drama Group from west Waterford last won in 2004 and were runners-up on two occasions since. With their gripping production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the group are well in contention.

Thurles Drama Group, Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group and Corofin Dramatic Society have featured prominently on the circuit and having been previous winners of the All Ireland Confined finals, they have rightly earned their place to compete on the open stage.

The festival runs nightly at 8pm at the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone from Thursday May 3 until Friday May 11 inclusive and the programme is as follows:

Thursday May 3

Prosperous Dramatic Society

Deadline

By Robert Massey

Friday May 4

Silken Thomas Players

Jerusalem

By Jez Butterworth

Saturday May 5

Cornmill Theatre Group

The Seafarer

By Conor McPherson

Sunday May 6

Kilmeen Drama Group

The Weir

By Conor McPherson

Monday May 7

Thurles Drama Group

The Seafarer

By Conor McPherson

Tuesday May 8

Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group

By the Bog of Cats

By Marina Carr

Wednesday May 9

Estuary Players

Three Days of Rain

By Richard Greenberg

Thursday May 10

Ballyduff Drama Group The Crucible

By Arthur Miller

Friday May 11

Corofin Dramatic Society

The Subject Was Roses

By Frank D Gilroy

Booking is now open at the theatre box office on (090 ) 6492129, or through the booking link at the festival website www.dramafestival.ie

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