Stage set for feast of drama

By Maria Pepper

Liz Bennett, Liam Smith and Anita Mahon at the launch.
Liz Bennett, Liam Smith and Anita Mahon at the launch.
At the launch of this year's Wexford Drama Festival in The Riverbank House Hotel were, back row: Margaret Murphy, Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group; Mick Byrne, Kilrush Drama Group; Paddy McGuire, Ballycogley Players; Catherine Richard, Cllr George Lawlor and Breda Hayes.Front: Rachal Murphy, Aoife Byrne, chairperson, Wexford Drama Festival; Cllr Tony Dempsey, Deputy Mayor of Wexford, who launched the festival and Denise Leahy, Bridge Drama.
Dara Cullen and Cat Hogan at the launch.
Catherine Richard and Mathilda Norval at the launch.

Eight nights of great entertainment will begin in the Dun Mhuire Theatre on Thursday, March 2 with the opening of the 54th Wexford Drama Festival featuring plays by four local groups and four visiting companies.

The much-anticipated event was officially launced at a reception in the Riverbank Hotel, main sponsor of the festival which has been growing in momentum over the past few years, according to chairperson Aoife Byrne.

Ms Byrne wished all the participating drama groups success on this year's festival circuit and said many people don't realise the commitment it takes to put on these wonderful performances and the many evenings and weekends sacrificed for rehearsals.

'We are indeed very lucky here in County Wexford to have so many talented, creative people willing to give up their time for our entertainment,' she said.

Running a drama festival is an expensive business and in addition to ticket sales, the organising committee relies on the generosity of sponsors, especially the Riverbank whose manager Tommy Doyle spoke at the launch and outlined the hotel's commitment to continuing the relationship into the future.

'We really appreciate their support and couldn't function without it,' said Aoife as she also thanked the festival club Simon's Place, which hosts the opening night reception and looks after groups following their performances each night.

The chairperson thanked her committee and the many volunteers who help out during the festival and encouraged everyone to come out and support their local drama festival. 'Let's ensure that this wonderful Irish tradition continues for at least another 54 years,' she said.

On the opening night, Thursday March 2, Ballycogley Players will perform Billy Roche's play Lay Me Down Softly set in the burlesque world of Delaney's travelling show and its boxing booth in small town 1960s Ireland.

On Friday March 3, it's the turn of Holycross Ballycahill Drama Group in Little Gem by Elaine Murphy, a play centred around three female characters - Amber, a lively teenager who is just out of school and working in a call centre, her mother Lorraine, long abandoned by her junkie husband and grandmother Kay whose husband has recently had a stroke.

On Saturday March 4, Schull Drama Group perform Neil Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers about Barney, a happily married man with a successful business who decides to shake up his 'nice' life by having an affair.

On Monday March 6, Kilrush Drama Group return to the Dun Mhuire with the Henrik Ibsen play Hedda Gabler about a woman trapped by convention and her own irreconcilable nature. Will she have the resolve to shape her own destiny?

On Tuesday March 7, Bunclody-Kilmyshall Drama Group will perform Agnes of God by John Pielmeier which tells the story of a nun who gives birth but swears it was by Immaculate Conception.

On Wednesday March 8, 2016 All-Ireland champions Bridge Drama will appear in An Inspector Calls by JB Priestly. When Inspector Goole arrives at the prosperous Birling family home, their dinner party is shattered by his investigations into the death of a young woman.

On Thursday March 9, Kilmuckridge Drama Group will perform Sean O'Casey's Shadow of a Gunman, set during the War of Independence, in which Donal is a poor poet with no political affiliation who has been mistakenly identified by his neighbours as an IRA man on the run. Donal doesn't refute this notoriety, especially when it wins him the affection of the attractive Minnie Powell but when the British soldiers come searching for rebels the trouble starts.

The final night, Friday March 10 is reserved for Wexford Drama group. After a year's break, they return with the Marina Carr play Portia Coughlan about a woman haunted by the death of her twin brother 15 years earlier.

Performances start at 8 pm each night. Tickets are available from Wexford Arts Centre and will also be sold on the door.

Wexford People

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