The RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival has officially kicked off and the crème de la crème of amateur dramatics find themselves in Athlone, waiting for their moment in the spotlight. 

This year’s finalists include theatre companies from Clare, Galway, Donegal, Kildare, two from Waterford and three Wexford, and Sean Rocks and the Arena team made the trip to the Luan Gallery to check out the talent first hand.

Opening the festival was Compántas Lir, performing Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie. Just before the curtain lifted, Sean managed to catch up with some of the stars of the show, including Vincent Moran who played Tom, the character inspired by Tennessee Williams' own life. When asked if he was feeling the pressure, he said,

"I’m not too bad at the moment. The best thing to do is not to concentrate on the play until about half an hour, three-quarters of an hour beforehand, and then trying to compose yourself before you go on!"

The part of Tom’s sister Laura is played by Deana Maguire, who did a lot of research into the life of Williams' sister Rose, upon whom the character is based.

"I think that the Glass Menagerie is Laura’s little world that she goes into, and it’s safe and she has friends there. I think she sees herself as the unicorn. She’s unique and she’s different. During the play, Laura sets up her little friendships and they communicate and she’s happy and safe there and doesn’t have to go out into the big bad world and have to deal with awkward social situations and failure."

Sean also spoke with Liz Hession who played the emotionally complex role of Tom’s mother Amanda.

"I believe she was a southern belle in her day. She grew up with servants and slaves, and then she fell in love with this gentleman who just walked out of her life and left her and she ended up in, I suppose, almost a tenement. Going through the play you think, oh she really doesn’t like Tom. She does. She loves him, but she’s trying to bring something out in him and she gives every ounce that she has in her heart and soul to those two children."

The RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival runs until Saturday 12th May - more details here