The winners of this year’s Claremorris Drama Festival are to be announced on Monday when the 10-day showcasing of acting talent from some of Ireland’s leading drama groups comes to an official close.
This year’s festival has been a resounding success so far, according to Peter McCallig, chairperson of festival.
Audiences have been flocking to the south Mayo town for the nightly dramas with Stolen Child, by Bairbre Ní Chaoimh and Yvonne Quinn, presented on Saturday night by the Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group, one of the biggest hits of the week so far.
The festival continues all weekend.
Tonight (Friday ), The Rasper Players present Woman and Scarecrow by Marina Carr at 8pm.
Tomorrow night (Saturday ) sees the Thurles Drama Group bring Beyond the Brooklyn Sky by Michael Hilliard Mulcahy to stage.
The Mai by Marina Carr, performed by the Ennis Players, is Sunday’s offering while the final drama of the festival, on Monday night, is The Memory of Water by Shelagh Stephenson.
This will be followed by the presentation of prizes.
Now in its 45th year, the Claremorris Drama Festival is one of the most popular festivals of its kind in the west of Ireland.
It is the only drama festival in Mayo affiliated by the Amateur Drama Council in Ireland, and performances and scores at the festival go towards qualifying for the All Irleand Drama Festival.
Mr McCallig, who has been involved with the festival since its foundation in 1969, said the event continues to go from strength to strength in Claremorris.
“There is a great interest in drama locally,” he said. “Some of the organisers have been involved since the very start, but we are also getting younger people joining up all of the time.”
Mr McCallig said the festival was founded when Reverend PZ O’Brien, who was previously very involved in dramatics with the Tuam Theatre Guild, arrived in Claremorris around the same time as the town hall was being built in the late 1960s.
“He saw an opportunity there to have a drama festival in the town, and so when town hall was being built the stage and lighting system was developed up to the necessary standards. It would have been one of the most modern halls in the country at that time,” explained Mr McCallig.
The long history and dedication to drama in Claremorris has more recently afforded new writing talents a chance to showcase their work with the launch three years ago of the Claremorris Fringe Festival.
The fringe festival runs alongside the Claremorris Drama Festival.
The programme is made up of newly written, never performed, 15-minute plays.
“It has been very successful and there has been a great reaction to it,” said Mr McCallig.
Although writers from all over Ireland, the UK, and even New Zealand and California, make up this year’s fringe programme, there is plenty of local talent to enjoy too.
Four writers from Mayo qualified for 2015 - Seamus McNally from Westport with his play Failures, Michael Goulding, Ballyhaunis, with The Last Waltz, Ken Armstrong from Castlebar with The Visibility, and Mena Mahon from Clogher with Sleeping Dogs.
For more information on the Claremorris Drama Festival and this year’s programme, visit www.claremorrisdramafestival.com