With just two weeks to go to the opening of the 60th RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, final preparations are well underway for what promises to be another bumper event.
Within hours of the booking office opening last week, the opening night, which sees Prosperous Drama Group perform Deadline by Robert Massey, was booked out.
Thanks to online booking facilities, access to purchase tickets is available 24/7 which increases the speed at which seats are sold.
This is not a bad complaint for the festival organisers, and they do stress that the signs so far show a huge interest in all the performances, so early booking is advisable in order to avoid disappointment.
The committee was honoured recently at a civic reception given by Athlone Town Council to mark the 60th anniversary of the first festival. The event has been held continuously in Athlone since 1953 and Mayor Alan Shaw paid tribute to former festival directors Brendan O’Brien and Colm Kelly “whose diligence and commitment has left us a legacy for which we can be truly proud”. Mayor Shaw also congratulated the festival’s current director, Billy Nott, as well as sponsors RTÉ, in raising the profile of the festival and in consequence, keeping Athlone as a place of prominence in Irish theatre. “Athlone Town Council has worked in partnership with the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival in giving the town an enhanced colourful and festive appearance as it prepares to welcome all nine finalists and their supporters,” he said.
To this end, traders are encouraged to dress their shop windows in a theatrical theme as Athlone Chamber has announced a shop window display competition which will run from April 20 and continue throughout the festival. Flags and banners will be a-plenty and the town council will have tasteful flower arrangements in place in prominent locations.
Capturing the celebratory mood of this year’s special occasion, an exhibition of photos and festival memorabilia from years past will be on show at Athlone Public Library from April 25 courtesy of Gearoid O’Brien, son of Brendan O’Brien, who directed the festival from its inception in 1953 until his death in 1992.
Full details of all events surrounding the festival including information on the nine competing productions are available on www.dramafestival.ie