Outside of the GAA and the Church, the amateur drama movement is the largest membership organisation in the country. And the All-Ireland Festival, held in Athlone every year, ranks with its GAA equivalents for the fervour and pride of contestants and their communities.
Filmed over nine months in the run up to the 2012 competition, Simply Am-Dram is a six part series of half-hour programmes that follows seven amateur drama groups in their bid to qualify for the annual finals, which are held in May every year. The fiercely competitive dimension of the groups show the double-lives of the featured characters as we capture them going about their daily routines and witness the lengths to which they will go to be crowned All Ireland Champions.
Filmed in an observational documentary style, from the casting sessions to opening night and on to the finals themselves, the mix of drama groups reflects a diverse range of ensembles that vary in scale and experience. From reigning champions Kilmeen Drama Group from West Cork, to rookies Ballyshannon Drama Group, this is the real pride of the parish: a wet winter's worth of rehearsals, fluffed lines and acclaim or disappointment. See the cheers, jeers and rivalry as the members of the various groups sweat it out with a community's expectations riding on them.
Simply Am-Dram offers an insight to seven very different groups capturing the essence of the unique place the amateur drama movement holds within most Irish communities. From the farmer to the bank employee, the housewife to the aspiring young actor - all share a commonality: a passion to tread the boards.regardless of how they creak!
Other drama groups featured in the series include: Brádan Players from Leixlip, Cornmill Theatre Company from Leitrim, Brideview Drama Group from Waterford, Prosperous Drama Society from Kildare and Nenagh Players from Tipperary.
It's September, and with the All-Ireland Finals only 9 months away, all around the country amateur drama groups are nailing down their cast for the forthcoming productions. If a group is to stand any chance of securing one of the 9 coveted places at the All Ireland Finals, sooner the rehearsals can get under way the better. In this episode we meet our 7 groups: Bradán Players from Leixlip, Cornmill Theatre Company from Leitrim, Ballyshannon Drama Group from Donegal, Prosperous Drama Society from Kildare, Nenagh Players from Tipperary, Brideview Drama Group from Waterford and reigning All Ireland champions, Kilmeen Drama Group from West Cork.