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’.

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

Play OnHear ye, hear ye! The cast list for ‘Play On’, the next production from Ballyshannon Drama Society can now be revealed!!

Aggie Manville/Stage Manager – Ailis McIntyre
Gerry Dunbar/Community Theatre Director – Trish Keane
Henry Benish/Lord Dudley – Michael Daly
Polly Benish/Lady Margaret – Amanda Byrne
Marla Smitty Smith/Doris the Maid – Sarah Ferguson
Saul Watson/Dr Rex Forbes – Kevin Lilly
Billy Carewe/Stephen Sellers – Terence McEneaney
Violet Imbry/Diana Lassiter – Louise Larkin
Louise Peary/Sound and Lighting Technician – Jacqui Lilly
Phyllis Montaque/Novice playwright – Regina Fahey

Director – Rachel O’Connor
Stage Manager – Moya Ferguson

Congratulations to all, and thanks to everyone who came along to the readings and auditions. ‘Play On’ by Rick Abbott will be performed in the Abbey Centre, Ballyshannon, on May 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 26th.

Break a leg everyone!!

“Have you ever been in love, me boys?” the song asks…In truth we  were all struck by Drama Cupid’s bow and arrow in 2017. It  burrowed its way, hooked and reeled us all in. When the endorphins get loose they infect everyone, from back stage to main stage and technicians alike. We feast on the feeling as it travels like a virus until we are consumed by it all.

Our love story with drama began in February with our entry in the three act drama circuit, Tom Stoppard’s ‘The Real Thing’. It became an unreal, surreal, passionate thing for us all, and it was a joy to produce with the best of people in the finest of festivals. The story continued as it so often does with the Ballyshannon Drama Festival, our 65th, when we laughed, cried, clapped and cheered with joy, sadness and celebration.
At the end of May, the next chapter in our story opened with ‘A Funny Kind of Day’. Much to his credit, our director Bill Greaves cast seven new actors who had never been in a three act play before. The result was truly amazing as our new stars enthralled the audience for a four-night run. A wonderful success in every way.
A night of Comedy_Drama_BDS_A4The  society decided on two one-act plays for our winter sport. Both plays were presented back-to-back, with one going forward for the One Act Festival Circuit. Ailis Mc Intyre directed one of the plays, “The Fat Lady Sings in Little Grimley”, a hilarious comedy performed by a cast of four new and old hands, and another great success.
Anne Mc Hugh directed the second play, a seriously dark piece called “Five Kinds of Silence” with a cast of six. This play went forward on the One Act Circuit, where it won all five of its circuit festivals, finishing up second in the All Ireland Finals in Letterkenny in December, a fantastic achievement of which we are all proud.
All plays have a human connection. Mark Fortier said “The purpose of theatre is to put the audience in a better position to understand the world around us.” It’s true – their stories evoke memories, funny and sad situations we instantly affiliate with. We recognise  characters who live amongst us, some that we love, some we avoid, scenes bring us to places we want to return to or may never want to experience again. They release feelings from the corners of the heart you didn’t know were there. Memories sneak out of your eyes and roll down your cheeks, and you wipe them away quickly in case someone might witness a weak moment, then all of a sudden there’s a change of heart as you suddenly burst out laughing and everyone around you joins in to relieve the tension and a wonderful moment is shared by all.
Sometimes the sprinkle system is so strong on stage we are drowning from its spill. When the lights go down we quickly sojourn to the foyer or green room or white room or any room to share those spoils from a surreal world in real time. Folk nudge into the huddle for chat and banter and knowledge, sharing a masterclass, and one must retain mental notes to ponder on later and unscramble in one’s own time.
On our one act circuit journey we watched and listened and admired great works, shared wonderful moments and became friends to strangers. We drank tea, fine-dined on tasty sandwiches and home bakes, talked each other into a pint in some local hostelry for the sake of the banter. Sometimes we left euphoric, sometimes we left confused but happy with a night’s work, but it never leaves you. It will stay in your head and take up residence for the long journey home, tuck itself into bed with you and abruptly waken you in the morning. You try to leave it at home as it could come to work and distract you entirely.
The love of drama is a serious drug that links us all to the best of people, and we are richer for that, wiser certainly, and it leaves us yearning for more. They say theatre does not last, only in people’s memories and in their hearts, but that’s the beauty and sadness of it all, and that is why theatre is life, and endlessly fascinating.
As we leave 2017 we would love to meet you all again next year during the three act festival run and share more wonderful, surreal times.
The Ballyshannon Drama festival is only a March away, and we will be waiting to share your laughter and tears, clap in admiration of your talents, hard labour and appreciate your journey. We promise banter afterwards and the sharing of thoughts over a cuppa or perhaps a sip or two if ye can stay a while longer.
We look forward to that reunion.
Until then enjoy the rest that Christmas has to offer. Remember fondly those who can’t be with us through sickness or otherwise. Send them a message from the heart because they are a very valuable part of our society and have left their indelible  print.
Parting thoughts: may each and everyone of you get shot by Drama Cupid’s bow until your dramatic pulse beats stronger with every new character you mould with truth in your heart.


The cast and crew of ‘Five Kinds of Silence’ have completed all five of their festivals in the One Act Drama circuit, and won each and every one, along with a host of awards! Mullagh, Ballina, Kiltymagh, Tubbercurry and Manorhamilton all welcomed the group with open arms, and sent them off with arms full of awards. This is a fantastic achievement for all involved, from the stellar multi-award winning cast on stage, to the crew who pack and drive the van around the country every night. To celebrate, and to help everyone prepare for the upcoming All Ireland One Act Drama Finals in Letterkenny, Ballyshannon Drama Society will present ‘Five Kinds of Silence’ in the Abbey Arts Centre on Sunday Nov. 26th at 8.30pm. This is your last chance to see the show locally, and a great opportunity to show your support and give the gang a great send-off for the All Ireland! See you there!

5 kinds of silence Oct'17 (16)Our first circuit date is finally here. After months of rehearsal and a three night run in the Abbey Centre, Ballyshannon Drama Society has packed up and hit the road for the Ballina One Act Drama Festival.  ‘Five Kinds of Silence’ is third in the running order tonight with curtain up at 7pm. If you’re in the area, book your tickets and call in to show your support to Michael, Rachel, Louise, Audrey, Moya, Terence, Ann, Trish and all the crew. They’ll be delighted to see you. Break a leg folks!

5 kinds of silence Oct'17 (16)Following the highly successful and very well received home run in the Abbey Arts Centre (slightly reduced by Hurricane Ophelia), cast and crew of ‘Five Kinds of Silence’ are back in rehearsal in preparation for five upcoming festival dates. If you are in the area, make sure you book your ticket and call in to say hello!

Sunday Nov. 5 – Ballina

Saturday Nov. 11th – Mullagh

Sunday Nov. 12th – Kiltimagh

Friday Nov. 17th – Tubercurry

Sunday Nov. 19th – Manorhamilton