Drama plays ‘vital’ role for our well-being

Dame Mary Peters, President of The Association of Ulster Drama Festivals, launches the programme for 77th. Ballymoney Drama Festival with the Chairman of Ballymoney Drama Festival, J Mac Pollock. INBM7-16
Dame Mary Peters, President of The Association of Ulster Drama Festivals, launches the programme for 77th. Ballymoney Drama Festival with the Chairman of Ballymoney Drama Festival, J Mac Pollock. INBM7-16

The 77th Ballymoney Drama Festival will officially open this year on Monday, February 29 at 8pm.

Six of the best amateur dramatic companies in the Province will be performing in Ballymoney Town Hall during the week, all hoping to qualify to take part in the Association of Ulster Drama Festival finals in April.

President of AUDF, Dame Mary Peters, who launched the programme, said: “Drama plays such a vital part for our well-being and the more we can encourage theatre groups and supporters to enjoy the pleasure of entertaining and being entertained the greater will be peoples’ enjoyment. I am encouraged that drama appears to be growing in popularity in the Province, please play your part”.

Lifford Players will open the Festival with a comedy by Tom Murphy, one of Ireland’s most acclaimed living dramatists. Set in Ireland in the late 1950s, A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant moves between the dreams and the real life of a young man trying to choose between emigration and staying at home.

Tuesday night (March 1) brings a unique opportunity to see the first public performance of a new play written for Newpoint Players by their Director, Sean Treanor; Time and Remembering has been inspired by the 2016 centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme.

A Walk in the Woods, by American writer Lee Blessing, brought to us by Theatre3, Newtownabbey, on Wednesday night was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. It follows the conversations of two arms negotiators during the Cold War but many of the issues it addresses are still relevant today.

Brighton by another Irish writer, Jim Nolan, is Clarence Players’ choice for Thursday, March 3 and has been described as “sparkling with wit and humour”. Initially set in a Nursing Home it brings together an outgoing elderly lady, a nursing assistant and an unhappy new resident.

Diane Samuels play, Kindertransport, will be performed by Rosemary Drama Group on Friday evening. Focussing on the story of one of the many Jewish children sent to Britain from Nazi Germany before WW2.

The final play of the week was also inspired by war-time events. Philip Orr’s After Dresden, performed by Belvoir Players, is based on the war diaries of the Rev. Ray Davies, founder of the Corrymela Community. After Dresden will start at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday 5th March to allow time for the Final Adjudication; all other plays begin at 8:00p.m.

Each evening, the 2016 Festival Adjudicator, Jan Palmer Sayer, will share some of her views on performance and production with the audience; this can add to the experience of seeing a play, helping audiences to understand what makes good theatre and often clarifying just why they have enjoyed, or even not enjoyed, a particular production. Not only is Jan a very experienced adjudicator, she has run her own theatre company, been principal of Hertswood Arts College and is an award winning actor and director. This will be her first visit to Ballymoney and she hopes to use the opportunity to see some local talent in secondary schools during the day as well as on the Town Hall stage every evening.

The Drama Festival will run from Monday 29th February until Saturday 5th March. Tickets will be available from the Town Hall. Season Tickets cost £40.00 (Concessions £35.00) for six nights and will be on sale between 10.00 am and 4:00p.m on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th February. Nightly Tickets can be booked in the Town Hall daily from Tuesday 16th February from 10.00am until 4.00 pm and nightly during the Festival at a cost of £9.00 (Concessions £7.00) The telephone number for Credit Card bookings is 028 2766 0230.

The Festival Committee is, as always, very grateful for the generous support of the Festival Sponsors. They are looking forward to seeing familiar faces in the audience and in the Tea Room and Bar during the Interval each night and hope that some new friends will join them. Everyone is welcome!

All booking details and information about the Sponsors and Adjudicator and about each play can be found on the Festival Website: www.ballymoneydramafestival.com