66th Ballyshannon Drama Festival March 10th-18th

The Ballyshannon Drama Society announces the 66th Ballyshannon Drama Festival 2018 opening in the Abbey Centre, Ballyshannon on Saturday 10 March with the closing performance on Sunday 18 March.


Menin GateThe Newtownstewart Theatre Company open the festival with their performance of ‘Meeting at Menin Gate’ by Martin Lynch. This play is based on a true story and explores the tense outcome of a Protestant woman confronting a former Republican involved in her father’s murder. Will the truth come out? The Newtownstewart Theatre Company have performed plays such as ‘The Factory Girls’, ‘Tea in a China Cup’ and came second in the All Ireland Confined finals last year with their production of ‘The Hen Night Epiphany’.


Waiting For GodotOn Sunday 11 March the Corn Mill Theatre Group present ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett. Two tramps are waiting by a sickly looking tree for M. Godot to show. They pass the time by quarrelling, making up, contemplating suicide, eating a carrot and gnawing chicken bones and playing with their hats. Two more characters arrive, a master and his slave who puts on his thinking hat. A young boy announces that M. Godot will not arrive until tomorrow “will night ever come”! Founded in 1963 as The Community Players and opening their own theatre – The Corn Mill Theatre and Arts Centre, they have competed since 1970 and have reached the All Ireland Open Finals on twenty one occasions. They have managed to win on three occasions: in 1998, 2005 and their latest win in 2014 with ‘The Devil’s Ceili’ by Philip Doherty and Kevin McGahern and in the same year won the Abbey Theatre Award.


Sillan Una Pooka‘Una Pooka’ by Michael Harding will be presented on Monday 12 by the Sillan Players, formed in 1982 by Fr. Patsy Young. They have performed many productions since then and have qualified for the confined finals on many occasions and they were runners up in Tubbercurry in 2017. Una Pooka is the fantasy of a single woman Una Kevitt who has travelled up to Dublin to visit the Pope. Would the Pope condemn communion in the hand? Would he put a halt to the gallop of well-heeled women? Why was Una’s brother being force-fed on muesli and lentils? And why did Fr. Simeon want to join the circus in Rio de Janiero? Come along and find out.


Beneath An Irish SkyOn Tuesday 13 Letterkenny Music and Drama Society present ‘Beneath an Irish Sky’ by Kieran Kelly. This is set in Letterkenny between 1914 and 1924 and shows how Brendan McDevitt was affected by World War 1, the War of Independence and the Civil War propelling him from peaceful Nationalism into militant Republicanism leading to far reaching implications for himself and his family. Formed in 1991, the Letterkenny Music and Drama Society has produced 24 plays and 24 musicals appearing in festivals in Derry and Bangor and runners up in AIMS All Ireland finals in 2007 with ‘Children of the Dead End’. They reached the All Ireland Confined Finals in 1999 and 2000 winning in 2012 with ‘The 39 Steps’. With the same play they qualified for the All Ireland Finals in Athlone in 2015.


Clann Machua Drama Group, Kiltimagh the-cripple-of-inishmaan-dz5mi1mg.khepresent ‘The Cripple of Inishman’ by Martin McDonagh on Wednesday 14 March. The inhabitants of the Aran Island Inishmaan of 1934 are excited because a film crew from Hollywood is expected to arrive soon in the neighbouring island of Inishmore to begin a documentary about life on the Aran Islands. Crippled Billy Claven, eager to escape gossip, cruelty and boredom of Inishmaan is determined to be part of the film. Clann Machua Drama Group was formed in 2010 to revive the amateur dramatics in Kiltimagh and hosts the annual ACDI one act festival every year in November. The group narrowly missed out for a place in the confined finals in 2017 with ‘Juno and The Paycock’ by Sean O’Casey.


Dancing At LughnasaThursday 15 March sees the production ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ by Brian Friel performed by Lifford Players. They have been actively participating in the Amateur Drama Circuit since they were formed

in the early 1950’s by Donegal County Council and Lifford Post Office. Their most successful decades have been the 1980’s and 2000’s with their most recent productions being ‘A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant’ by Tom Murphy in 2016 and ‘Abigail’s Party’ by Mike Leigh in 2017. ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ depicts two days in the lives of the Mundy sisters living in poor circumstances outside the village of Ballybeg, County Donegal during harvest time in 1936. Their brother Fr. Jack a missionary priest is sent home after twenty five years in Africa and the youngest character in the performance is a seven year old son of Chris the youngest sister. Brian Friel evokes not simply the interior landscape of a group trapped in their domestic situation, but also the wider landscape of which they are a part. This play was first performed in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin 24 April 1990.


Buried Child‘Buried Child’ by Sam Shepard will be performed on Friday 16 March by the Phoenix Players, Tubbercurry. One of the oldest drama groups, they have been performing since 1945. They are regularly involved with Community Theatre and have often qualified for the All Ireland Finals. Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, with its surreal dark humour, explores universal themes which are taboo within society. Vince returns to find the degradation of this once noble farm family in Illinois. One catastrophic event is the root cause of the degradation of a once proud family, caused by a secret buried in the dark. Has Tilden’s persistent search enabled his family to emerge like a phoenix from the ashes?


ConservatoryOn Saturday 17 March the Bradán Players will present ‘Conservatory’ by Michael West. In the play you will hear: ‘I wasn’t throwing up. I was dying. I was very ill… And do you know what? In the middle of all that… malaise. I remember thinking “This is what it’s like to be married” But I’ll do it again.’ An elderly couple sit in a dark room in their house, doing the crossword, taking their tablets and knitting, all the while raking over a traumatic past that has all but destroyed them. Conservatory is a compelling play about loss and family which shows that happiness is not a necessary condition of togetherness. It premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in March 2014. Founded in 2005, the Bradan Players are from north Kildare and west Dublin area. They have appeared in the All Ireland One Act Finals seven times, winning on four occasions with their latest ‘Power Lunch’ by Alan Ball in Galway 2015. They have also appeared in the All Ireland Full-length Finals in Athlone on six occasions, most recently with ‘Blackbird’ by David Harrower in 2017.


Sunday 18 March is the concluding performance of the festival and Prosperous Dramatic Society will present ‘Sylvia’ by A R Gurney. It is a smart, playful, sophisticated and occasionally gritty comedy about relationships, nature and growing older. A lovable dog changes the lives of a middle-aged couple who have entered the empty nest time of life and have moved to Manhattan after twenty years in the suburbs. Greg is dissatisfied with his job but Kate is excited about her new teaching opportunities and new-found freedom. Sylvia challenges everything and everyone in the relationship. Prosperous Dramatic Society first won the 1 Act Open All Ireland finals in 1995 with ‘Faint Voice’ by John MacKenna. They won the 1 Act All Ireland finals in 2012 with ‘Bobby Gould in Hell’ by David Marmet and again in 2012 with Neil LaBute’s ‘Lovely Head’. They were invited to perform ‘Bobby Gould in Hell’ at the Mondial du Theatre in Monaco. They won the Ulster Champions title in 2013 and 2014 with Edward Albee’s ‘The Goat or Who is Sylvia’ and Marc Camoletti’s ‘Boeing Boeing’. In 2016 they came third in the All Ireland Finals with ‘One Man, Two Guv’nors’ and were awarded the Abbey Theatre Award in the All Ireland Finals in 2017 with ‘The Play about the Baby’.


Performances will take place each night at 8.15pm except the final night Sunday 18 March at 7.30pm.

The Adjudicator this year is Tommy McArdle and the Festival Director is John Travers.

Season tickets 60 euro.

Nightly 15 euro (12 euro concession) group rates available.

Booking 071 9851375