RTÉ confident of continued All Ireland Drama success

 The marvellous cultural phenomenon that is amateur drama and the All Ireland Drama Festival will continue to develop and thrive because it’s in good hands. That’s the view of Tom Savage, the outgoing chairman of the board of RTÉ, main partner for the national drama festival which has just finished a sell-out nine nights of top quality theatre. Speaking at the awards night which took place at the weekend, Mr Savage said community-based events like the All Ireland Drama Festival are deeply significant for our national sense of identity. He said the standard of theatre in Athlone keeps rising every year, and he noted that it’s the 11th year that RTÉ has been involved in sponsoring the festival. Earlier this year the national broadcaster agreed a three year deal with the festival’s organisers which will secure funding for 2015 and 2016. The event was attended by Tom McGuire, Westmeath-based head of Radio 1, and Dr Bryan MacMahon, former High Court judge and current chairman of the board of the Abbey Theatre. The Listowel native, and son of short story-writer Bryan MacMahon said it was a singular honour to be in Athlone to present a gesture of support for amateur drama by the Abbey Theatre in the form of the Abbey Theatre Award for a play which will be brought to the Peacock Stage. He said the award is a gesture of affirmation for all the hard work done throughout the year by those involved in the amateur drama scene. Indicating just how high the standard of the 2014 finals was, he said he could justifiably have presented the award to any of the nine groups; however, in the end it went to Cornmill Theatre, Carrigallen, Leitrim for their multi-award winning production of a dark, experimental comedy. Cornmill’s interpretation of The Devil’s Ceili earned awards for best film, best director, and best stage management. Director Ronan Ward, who has regularly acted in Athlone but was directing for the first time, said it was a very proud moment for the people of Carrigallen and for those involved in Cornmill. Getting to Athlone is always a privilege, he said, paying tribute to all involved in their success, including his father Gus, who was nominated for a best supporting actor award. The play, which featured dazzling special effects and multi-media tricks as well as the biggest cast of the festival with 23 actors, tells the story of what happens when the devil slips three hypocritical men LSD at a 1960s Cavan Ceili. The Moat Club, Naas and Bradan Players, Leixlip took awards for best actor and best actress and Naas took home the best lighting award.

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