Drama festival has lift-off

By Amy Lewis

Hilda Conway, Antoinette Mitchell, Carmel Corish Wallace and Claire Larkin enjoying the launch.
Hilda Conway, Antoinette Mitchell, Carmel Corish Wallace and Claire Larkin enjoying the launch.
Deirdre Murphy, Ger Mullhall, Laura Hayes and Nick Hayes at the launch.
The Castlebridge Community Singers provided some of the music.
The Festival Commitee (back) - Rachel Murphy, Breda Hayes. Claire Larkin, Antoinette Mitchell and Hilda Conway; front - Catherine Richard, Aoife Byrne, chairperson and Mairead Sinnott.
Fintan Murphy (Ballycogley Players), Pat Whelan (Bridge Drama), Cllr Jim Moore, deputy mayor, Aoife Byrne, chairperson, Tommy Doyle (Riverbank House Hotel) and Mick Byrne (Kilrush Players).

The spotlight was on homegrown talent last week as Wexford's 53rd Drama Festival kicked off with a bang at the Riverbank House Hotel.

Drama lovers and theatre-goers from around the county and beyond gathered for the launch of one of the most popular events in the arts calendar, which begins on March 3.

The Castlebridge Community Singers got proceedings under way with a medley of songs linked to theatre and cinema. The Ballycogley Drama Group then took to the stage to give audiences a glimpse into what they have to offer next month. Their snippet of 'The Cripple of Inishmaan' proved gripping for the audience, who are sure to come back to see the real deal.

MC Mairead Sinnott introduced a variety of guests and speakers, who waxed lyrical about the upcoming drama festival. Councillor Jim Moore made a passionate speech in which he reminded the crowd about the importance of drama in rural and urban communities. Michael Darcy also took to the mic, asking all of the drama groups to get involved in the Three Sisters 2020 bid.

The future of the festival is certain, partly thanks to manager of the Riverbank House Hotel Tommy Doyle who pledged to continue to fund the event. His speech was met with great positivity from everyone on the night, as was festival Chairperson Aoife Byrne, who now has her sights set on the election this Friday.

The launch closed with Bridge Drama performing an excerpt from 'Lost in Yonkers' by Neil Simon. Starring Cillian Toibin, Sean Toibin and Heather Hadrill, it certainly left audiences dying for more.

With the launch proving to be a big success, all eyes are now on next month's drama festival which will begin on Thursday March 3. Ferns Dramatic Society will open the festival when they stage Robert Harling's 'Steel Magnolias'. On March 4, the Holycross Ballycahill Drama Group are sure to thrill with their play 'The Thrill of Love' by Amanda Whittington. Saturday March 5 will see 'The Graduate'- a play by Terry Johnson which will be performed by Curtain Call Productions Dungarvan. Next to take to the stage will be Kilrush Drama Group on March 7. Their play 'The Far Off Hills' by Lennox Robinson is billed to be a big hit. Jim Nolan's 'Moonshine' will come to life on March 8 thanks to the Bunclody/ Kilmyshall Drama Group, while Bridge Drama will perform 'Lost in Yonkers' by Neil Simon in full on the following night. Kilmuckridge Drama Group will make their mark on the festival with John Barrett's 'Where he Lies' on March 10. Last but certainly not least, Ballycogley Players will close the show when they perform 'The Cripple of Inishmaan' by Martin McDonagh.

Jim Wolstencroft will act as the adjudicator throughout the festival, which will take place in Dun Mhuire Theatre.

People from far and wide can get caught up in the drama as tickets are on sale now from the Wexford Arts Centre. Tickets cost €12 (€10 concession) nightly or €60 for all eight nights.

Wexford People

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