The curtain rose on the All Ireland Amateur Drama Festival on Friday 21st of February as the first festivals opened their doors to competing groups, adjudicators and of course the audience! Rush, Kilmuckridge and Newtownstewart maintained their traditions of being the first festivals on the circuit with plays in both the Open and Confined sections.
As the weeks go on, you can keep track of the competition on www.adci.ie, where you can download this Nightly planner or follow the festivals and results. The ADCI Facebook page is updated regularly with all the latest festival news.
Here in Ballyshannon, we’ll be paying close attention to the results in the Confined section to see who will be joining us in the Abbey Arts Centre in April.
If you’re planning to visit Ballyshannon for the festival, we’ve included a list of accommodation and dining options in the area on the website, and will be posting frequent updates on our own Facebook page.
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.
As 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 www.adci.ie 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
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.
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.
Neighbours and soldiers make up the non-speaking roles.
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.
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 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