Auditions for One-Act Comedy Feb. 6th

We are delighted to announce that Rachel O’Connor will direct the one-act Irish comedy ‘A Bit of Land’, to be performed alongside ‘Faint Voices’ in March.
The cast consists of Tommy (30s), Dan (60s), Mary-Jane (middle-aged), Biddy (an old woman), Master Gormley (middle-aged).
The auditions will take place in the Green Room in the Abbey Arts Centre at 8pm.
All welcome!

All Ireland Confined Finals 2020

81289599_10221136119422063_1794082602034921472_nAs drama festival organisers around the country welcome this year’s competing groups, we’re looking forward to the excitement of the All Ireland Confined Finals in April! We’ll be hosting the top 9 plays in the Confined group as they compete for the All Ireland trophy in the Abbey Centre from April 17th to the 25th.

The draw to decide the running order of the festival will take place in the Abbey Centre on Saturday the 4th of April at 1pm. Following that, nightly tickets will be available online from April 6th (€18/€15). In the meantime, if you’d like to secure a season ticket, they will be available from March 1st by phone on 0719851375 for €90.

There are 21 groups participating in the Confined Group this year. You can follow all the action of the league table on once the festivals begin to see which of these groups will be joining us in Ballyshannon!

  • Lislea Dramatic Players – “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Kesey/Wasserman
  • Phoenix Players – “The Communication Cord” by Brian Friel.
  • The Knocks Drama Group – “ The Cavan Curse” by John Mc Manus
  • Enniskillen Theatre Co. – “ The Night Alive” by Conor Mc Pherson
  • Clonabogan Drama Circle – “The Two Loves of Gabriel Foley” by Jimmy Keary
  • Pomeroy Players- “Same Old Moon” by Geraldine Aron
  • Newtownstewart Theatre Co. – ”Shoot The Crow” by Owen Mc Cafferty
  • Clann Machua, Kiltymagh – ”Sive” by J.B. Keane
  • Sliabh Aughty Drama Group – ”The Outgoing Tide” by Bruce Graham
  • Glenamaddy Players – ”The Cripple of Inishmaan” by Martin Mc Donagh
  • Sillan Players, Shercock – “At the Black Pig’s Dyke” by Vincent Woods
  • Duleek Drama Group – ”The Blacksmith” by Michael Ferguson
  • Kilmuckridge Drama Group – ”Daughter from over the Water” by M.J Molloy
  • Wayside Players – “The Cripple of Inishmaan” by Martin Mc Donagh
  • Tinahely Variety Group -”Juno and the Paycock” by Sean O Casey
  • Skibbereen Theatre Society – ”Steel Magnolias”  by Robery Harling
  • Mullingar Theatre Lab – ”One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Kesey/Wasserman
  • Kilworth Dramatic Society – ”The Quiet Moment” by Mike Finn
  • Camross Drama Group – ”The Year of the Hiker” by J.B. Keane
  • Ray Leonard Players, Claremorris – “Beyond Therapy” by Christopher Durang
  • St. Dympna’s, Dromore – “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” by Martin Mc Donagh

Casting Announcement!

We are delighted to announce the cast for our upcoming production of ‘Faint Voices’ by John Mac Kenna, which will be directed by Anne Mc Hugh.

Ellie Vaughan – Audrey Davitt
Francis Ledwidge – Terence McEneaney
Matty Mc Goona – Sean Donegan
Mrs. Ledwidge – Rachel O’Connor

Congratulations to the new cast members, and many thanks to everyone who turned up to the audition. We’re looking forward to this production, which will open in March a few weeks ahead of the All Ireland Confined Finals in April.


Ann Mc Hugh to direct ‘Faint Voices’

We are delighted to confirm that award-winning director Ann Mc Hugh has announced plans to stage ‘Faint Voices’, a one-act play, by John MacKenna in March 2020 (pending the successful acquisition of performing rights).

There will be an open reading on Monday the 16th of December at 8pm in the Abbey Arts Centre. All welcome.

The play is based on the love affair between Frank Ledwidge, the Slane poet who was killed in 1917 in the Great War, and Ellie Vaughey, a member of a well-to-do farming family from just outside Slane.
Ledwidge worked at a variety of jobs in and around Slane in the early years of the twentieth century. His poetic talent was encouraged by Lord Dunsany, a local landlord and himself a writer. Ledwidge’s promise was cut short by his early death.
The reasons for Ledwidge’s joining the British army are complicated. Some people have argued that it was a political decision. Undoubtedly, the loss of Ellie Vaughey’s love was a major influence and this factor is the central point of this play.
Ellie Vaughey married a local man and moved to Manchester where she died in childbirth, in June 1915.

There are four speaking roles and a number of non-speaking roles.

Speaking roles:

Mrs Ledwidge
Matty McGoona
Ellie Vaughey
Frank Ledwidge

Neighbours and soldiers make up the non-speaking roles.

Ballyshannon Drama Society to host All Ireland Confined Finals 2020

Ballyshannon Drama Society will very proudly host the All Ireland Amateur Drama Confined Finals 2020, from April 17th to the 25th in the Abbey Arts Centre.

Ballyshannon hosted two very successful All Ireland One Act Finals, first in 1996 and again in 2014, but this is the first time that the confined finals will be held in Donegal. The top nine acts from 35 festivals around the country will perform in front of adjudicator Paul Fowler, in the hope of winning the All Ireland trophy. There will also be fringe events during the festival, and a festival club each night.

Season tickets will be available online in the new year at the cost of €90 per person. This will entitle the holder to an allocated seat at each of the nine nights of the festival. The draw for the running order of the final will take place on April the 6th. Nightly tickets will be made available online shortly after that date at €15 per person.

‘The Bread Man’ by Frank Mc Guinness

This year, the Allingham Festival Committee invited Ballyshannon Drama Society to collaborate on a new production for the Allingham Festival, and the fruit of that collaboration was a wonderful performance of ‘The Bread Man’ by Frank Mc Guinness, with the playwright himself visibly moved by the performance.

Once Mc Guinness had been confirmed as the guest of honour at the festival, he offered the committee the revised script of his 1990 play ‘The Bread Man’, which he hadn’t seen produced in nearly thirty years. Carl Duggan approached the other members of the drama society to gauge interest. With Keith Robinson available to direct, auditions were held, and a cast of 13 embarked on months of rehearsals.

‘The Bread Man’ is set in an unnamed north Donegal town in 1970s (easily recognisable as Buncrana). The play focuses on ‘The Sinner Courtney’, a bread man whose behaviour has become erratic following the death of his father, and the reactions of his family and other local characters to his unusual activities.

The show opened to a large audience on Wednesday November the 6th, with a special performance on Friday the 8th, as the play was preceded by a special tribute to Frank Mc Guinness by the Allingham Festival. The tributes began with a letter from former President Mary Mc Aleese, read by Mary Duggan, in which she recalled how the ‘brilliantly chosen words’ of Mc Guinness’s play ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme’ created a ‘platform of shared memory’, ‘the might of words disrupting our lazy world with hidden truths we needed to face’. Following this, Caitríona Mc Laughlin, Associate Director with the Abbey Theatre, who also hails from Inishowen, took to the stage to talk about Frank’s contribution to Irish theatre. She spoke of how Mc Guinness’s ‘unapologetically-Donegal’ voice had been an inspiration to her own work in theatre.

Then it was time for the performance itself, which received a rapturous round of applause from the audience. The Chairperson of the Allingham Festival, Conor Carney, broke character at the end of play to announce that there was one more tribute to be shared, and proceeded to read a letter from Uachatarán na hÉireann, Michael D. Higgins, which pointed out that ‘as a playwright and a novelist he courageously pushed boundaries as he explored the social, religious and political truths that defined the island of Ireland’. Allingham Committee members Sally Stephens and Anne Drummond then presented Mr. Mc Guinness with gifts, including a photo by Emer O’Shea and framed copies of both presidential tributes.

Finally it was time for Mr. Mc Guinness to speak. Clearly moved by the performance, he thanked everyone involved in the production, particularly director Keith Robinson for bringing his show to life, lead actor Michael Mc Mullin who he declared ‘perfect’ as The Sinner, and the production team for showing him how the play should be presented, ‘as a picture’.

This was a fantastic end to the production, which brought a number of new actors into the society, and saw more experienced members of the society volunteering to assist in all aspects of the show. Congratulations to everyone involved, on and off stage, for creating a fantastic night of drama and celebration in the Abbey Arts Centre.

Director: Keith Robinson

The Cast:

The Sinner Courtney – Michael McMullin

Florence Courtney – Emer McShea

Dan Courtney – Ronan Drummond

Pat Courtney – Farah Bogle

Tommy Courtney – Conor Carney

Rose Kiely – Ailis McIntyre

James Kiely – Mark Kirby

Albert Casey – Ken Monaghan

Niall Wilmot – Niall McKee

Simon Breslin – Diarmuid McInerney

Eddie Rodgers – Sean McLoone

Susan Crilly – Roisin Lee-Fox

George Crilly – Terence McEneaney

Set Design: Trish Keane
Sound: Conor Beattie
Lighting: Mark Fearon
Producer: Carl Duggan

‘Earnest’ receives 4 nominations in All Ireland Final

Our time with Oscar and Earnest came to an end on Saturday night at the All Ireland Amateur Drama awards ceremony in the Radisson, Athlone. Congratulations to the overall winners, Prosperous Dramatic Society, whose production of ‘An Enemy of the People’ received awards in acting, directing and stage management.
‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ received four nominations in total:
Rachel O’Connor was nominated for Best Actress for her role as Lady Bracknell;
Sean Donegan was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role as Algernon Moncrieff;
Trish Keane was nominated for Best Set;
Carl Duggan was nominated for Best Stage Management.
Congratulations to all the nominees! Unfortunately we didn’t take any trophies away on the night, but we are still immensely proud of the show we put on in Athlone last week, and we had a great night together to celebrate everything we achieved on the circuit.
Many thanks once again to all our wonderful supporters who have helped and encouraged us on the way.
Ballyshannon Drama Society will be taking a bit of a break from production after months in rehearsal and on the circuit but planning has already begun for the 2020 Confined Finals, and conversations about new productions have begun on the periphery.
Watch this space!

A Letter from the Chair

It was September 25th 2018, the meeting was a party of five and home made apple-tart was our appetiser on an evening where six scripts were discarded and a special one chosen.

Auditions were

Earnest Ballyshannon'19 (5)

advertised, excitement grew, and one week later ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ was given the breath of life, or should I say the breath of nine lives.

We had our first cast reading in our theatre’s green room. It was wonderful to hear the play read aloud, words weaving the comical story and characters coming to life. It was obvious by the end of the reading that “Earnest” was the right choice for our group .
Our Wilde Winter sport was set in motion. We had all stepped into a surreal world of 19th century language, a story first performed in London on February 14th 1895. 124 years later, Ballyshannon Drama Society performed the play, opening on February 12th 2019 for a four night run on our home stage in the Abbey Arts Centre, before embarking on the Open circuit journey, hoping to qualify for The All Ireland Finals in Athlone.
Earnest Ballyshannon'19 (12)

We competed in 8 venues around the country: Tubbercurry, Kiltyclogher, Castleblaney, Enniskillen, Ballyshannon, Carrickmore, Portadown and Strabane. We were placed in all 8 festivals and winning three earned us the maximum points to assure our place in the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Finals on May 8th in Athlone. During the festival run we picked up 39 awards in Acting, Costume, Set/Decor, Lighting, Sound, Stage Management and Directing.

We are so grateful for all the hospitality shown to us on the circuit. We appreciate all the time adjudicators spent with us to help pave our way forward.
Earnest Ballyshannon'19 (14)

We are thrilled with all the help and support from our community, and a special thanks to all our families and friends who tolerated our absence from the real world. This will be the fourth time we have qualified for this prestigious festival, first with ‘The Gingerbread Lady’ in 2014 , ‘God of Carnage’ in 2015 and ‘Old Times ‘ in 2016. We also came second in the One Act All Ireland Drama Finals 2017 with ‘Five Kinds Of Silence’.

On May 8th we promise wholeheartedly to represent Ballyshannon Drama Society with our gorgeous interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest (A Trivial Comedy for Serious People)’ . We are so lucky to have a theatre of the highest standard to rehearse in. We know we have the greatest supporters in the world behind us and an outstanding team of friends weaving and working this tapestry into something beautiful.
Earnest Ballyshannon'19 (20)

We are all very proud of our production. We have worked hard and we are ready to show it off in all its splendour on the All Ireland stage. We would love to see you all for our gala evening and preview performance on Monday 6th of May in the Abbey Arts Centre, when we will also take the opportunity to launch the 2020 All Ireland Confined Finals which Ballyshannon Drama Society will be proud to host. There will be a wine and finger food reception at 7.30 with curtain at 8.30.

Please come along to celebrate and support this wonderful achievement before we give our final performance in Athlone on May 8th.
We also need your blessings, good karma and everyone’s fingers and toes crossed on May 8th. Hold us close in your hearts and we will feel your presence.
Thank you all for everything!
Trish Keane
Chairperson, Ballyshannon, Drama Society