Launch of the 61st Annual RTÉ All-Ireland Drama Festival
The annual festival, which celebrates its 61st year, is the premier theatrical event of its kind in Ireland, showcasing the very best of Irish amateur theatre and attracting thousands of visitors to Athlone, where it takes place every year.
The new festival director Joe MacCarrick paid tribute to his predecessor of ten years Mr Billy Nott and vowed to continue the work of growing and developing further upon the very solid foundations of the amateur drama movement nationally.
Speaking at the launch the festival director said: “The success of the Festival is due to the support and participation of all the stake-holders both nationally and locally. There is no question that as we celebrate RTÉ's ten years of association with the festival, the benefits to the finals in Athlone, as well as to the amateur drama movement countrywide, have been substantial, especially in raising the profile of the festival and adding a tremendous sense of prestige to the occasion.” The festival director also acknowledged the role of the Director of the National Theatre Senator Fiach Mac Conghail, together with their Chairman Bryan McMahon, for continuing to build a bridge between the professional and amateur sectors in Ireland.
During the week of the Festival, RTÉ will broadcast daily reports from the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival on RTÉ Radio 1 and on RTÉ One Television with RTÉ’s Karina Buckley reporting for The Ronan Collins Show, Marian Finucane and Morning Edition. The Ronan Collins Show and Marian Finucane will also be broadcasting live from RTÉ’s Athlone studio during the event.
Held under the auspices of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland (ADCI), the festival sees the top nine amateur drama groups in the country compete for the All-Ireland title and the prestigious Festival Perpetual Trophy, as well as for several major acting and technical awards. The Chairman of ADCI Sean Corcoran speaking at the launch congratulated each of the nine groups in reaching the drama finals and acknowledged the developing relationship between the festival and the Abbey Theatre. He went on to say, “RTÉ have continued to play a pivotal role in building awareness of the amateur drama movement in Ireland and they have helped to inspire the next generation of thespians, thus ensuring that our future is secure as a movement.”
The nine-day festival takes place in the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone from Thursday 2 May to Friday 10 May. Nine drama groups from around the country will perform and compete in the festival.
At the launch, Chairman of the Abbey Theatre Bryan McMahon announced the second year of the Abbey Theatre Award, the winner of which will go on to perform on the Peacock stage for a three night run in the week commencing 20th May 2013. He said: “Ireland’s local drama movement reflects the love and enthusiasm that Irish people have for theatre and the performing arts. It is a remarkable movement which helps to nurture acting and give expression to people’s creativity. The Abbey Theatre is delighted to support such a vibrant and successful movement for a second consecutive year. We look forward to welcoming the winners of the Abbey Theatre Award to the national theatre and see them perform their winning production on the Abbey Peacock stage.”
The Director of the RTÉ All-Ireland Drama Festival, Joe MacCarrick stated: “We are delighted to have RTÉ as our sponsors in this our 61st year. The breadth of offerings in this year’s programme means that theatre-goers are in for a celebration of top class drama.”
The programme of plays range in style and content and are a diverse tapestry of Irish and international theatre. The Festival includes: J M Synge's classic 'Playboy of the Western' World, Marina Carr's 'By The Bog of Cats', Brian Friel's 'Dancing at Lughnasa', Ron Hutchinson's 'Moonlight and Magnolias'. There is American drama from Arthur Miller's 'All My Sons' and Tom Griffin's 'The Boys Next Door'. There is also the theatrically challenging 'The Goat' or 'Who Is Sylvia' by Edward Albee, 'Mercury Fur' by Philip Ridley and Ray Cooney’s comedy 'Out of Order'.
The RTÉ All-Ireland Drama Festival has grown and developed into a flagship tourist event while at the same time aiming to achieve the highest standards in amateur drama. The festival is supported by a lively Fringe which runs throughout festival week and features street theatre, school workshops, art exhibitions, writer’s workshops and other theatrical performances at locations around Athlone town.
RTÉ’s Head of External Relations Mairead Ni Nuadhain said at the launch: “RTÉ is delighted to have had such a strong association with the All Ireland Drama Festival over the past ten years. The support and nurturing of a thriving arts and culture sector in Ireland is one of the cornerstones of public service broadcasting activity and this year’s festival is testimony to community arts at its very finest.”