Drama Festival Programme

We were somewhat concerned last year about the number (and, frankly, the quality!) of entries to Newry’s Annual Drama Festival, so it’s with joy and some relief – that we can report over-subscription this year. The Committee was compelled to choose ELEVEN (note: one MORE than last year, and NO repeats!) from a total of fifteen applications. 

Read moreDrama Festival Programme

Aislin McGuckin Actress

aislin mcguckin actress

Aislin McGuckin is a wonderful actress from Newry, please read below for an overview of the beautiful performances she brings to the stage!

During a recent visit to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford upon Avon to see a performance of Twelfth Night, I arrived with just enough time to purchase a programme and find my seat before lights down.

Aislin McGuckin On Stage

 As a consequence I did not have time to familiarize myself with names or history of cast members. However, I settled down to watch and hopefully to enjoy the performance.

Suffice to say, I could not have been too enthralled because my mind drifted back to Newry Town Hall (yes!, it was Town Hall during my time there). I recalled quite vividly, amateur productions that were as ‘professionally’ performed, in my humble and perhaps biased view as the one I was currently watching!

Was it perhaps, a case of those rose-tinted specs again? I think not. After all, Newry does seem to have an ability to turn out talent of a high calibre.

As my attention and concentration returned to Stratford and the play being performed, I was drawn to the character, the Countess Olivia, who was undoubtedly giving a splendid performance:  I was pleasantly surprised to notice that she had an Irish accent, albeit a polished Irish accent, but there was a definite northern twang.

During the interval I had ample time to peruse the programme and to discover that the Countess Olivia was being played by one Aislin McGuckin. She appeared to be an actress with considerable experience in theatre, television and film work. So, who was this paragon and from where did she hail? I was keen to know more!

On my return home it was simple enough, with the aid of my computer, to research Aislin McGuckin. Imagine then my dumbfounded surprise to find that Aislin not only hails from my home town but is also, like me, a past pupil of the Sacred Heart School!

So, ok, I hold up both hands! I plead guilty to possibly being the only person from Newry, indeed maybe the whole of the Irish Isle, who was not aware of yet another star in our galaxy. I am now! And I shall track this particular star’s journey with very special interest.

I do realize of course, that Aislin is only one of many talented people from Newry who have followed their dream and made it to the ‘big time’.

I extend my personal gratitude to one and all. Long may they choose to entertain and amuse those of us with lesser talents.

24th Lislea Drama Festival

The first performance in the 24th Lislea Drama Festival begins next Saturday evening at 8.30 in the local Community Centre.  Clanabogan Drama Circle of Tyrone presents ‘Far Off Fields’ by Lennox Robinson.  Nightly tickets are

On Sunday evening it is the Two Bridges Theatre Group from Derry.  This is an offshoot of the celebrated Playhouse Players and they present ‘Black Comedy’ by Peter Shaffer.  I believe the stage action reverses the normal dark/light situation (with players groping in the light and perfectly competent in its absence) and is a ‘black comedy’ in both senses of the phrase.
The third performance is on Wednesday 2 March when John Keyes (one-time director of Newry Arts Centre) presents his one-man biopic of the life of Michael MacLiammmoir.  He was a central figure in the development of the theatre in Ireland in the early and mid-twentieth century. It is entitled ‘The Importance of being Michael’.  This is not part of the competitive Festival.
Last year’s winners, the Creggan Drama Circle of Tyrone present ‘April Bright’ by Dermot Bolger on Saturday night week, 5th March.  That weekend’s performances is completed by Pomeroy Players (Tyrone) with Johnny Belinda by Elmer Harris.
The ever-popular Juno and the Paycock (Sean O’Casey) is presented by St Dympna’s Drama Society of Dromore (Tyrone) on Wednesday 9th March. 
The Festival concludes on Friday 11th March with the home side (Lislea Players) presenting Patrick Kavanagh’s Tarry Flynn.  A review of the latter will follow here.
The Adjudicator P. J. Croal will present the Awards Night on the following Friday evening, 12 March. 
You are urged to attend as many of the performances as possible.  It is always worthwhile.

Casting Director

In praise of Newpoint’s Casting Director
A shadowy figure, but a wily inspector
He cast Benny McKay as a chance passer-by
Once again Benny just – passed his chance by.

In his place, Donal O’Hanlon, who is close to the gods
Romped the stage asking – ‘Have you got any odds?’
Laurie Hodgett had the part of a rising tycoon,
And word on the street is, he’s getting there soon!

In Sean Hollywood’s time – speak no ill of the dead
For he was our master, when all’s done and said
In Animal Farm, Eileen played a great cow
You’d an edge to your laughter.  Didn’t you now?

Ann Frank, Geraldine Fitzpatrick, matriarchal Aristocrat
Actress supreme, true thespian sophisticat
Had Treasa Davey as pretty and sweet-talking daughter
We’d all like to have one.  If you don’t, then you ought a!

Mark Hughes, who’s our Council’s artistic carbuncle
No! The gem, not the boil, played her potty old uncle
And Sean Treanor, a bowed and decrepit old serf
As if things were different. Hey, don’t make me laugh!

To play Charlotta Ivanovna, he cast Pauline Lynch
To be honest however, that part was a cinch
The performance, all told, was an unbridled joy
Thanks to new team director, young Patricia McCoy.

Apologies to those whose names don’t appear
I’ve done my own bit of casting, but never you fear!
If you escaped me this time, there’s one thing that’s clear
I’ll be waiting right here for you, this time next year!

Point Drama Festival Results

Warrenpoint Confined [All-Ireland] Finals is just over.  It had a worthy winner in Silken Thomas Players’ ‘Bent’.  Runners-up were Stolen Child, also excellent.  Third was Tyrone’s Backburners Players with ‘Thy Will Be Done’.   I cannot understand Michael Twomey placing ‘HRT’ fourth as tonight’s play, and this production was the weakest of the nine entries.  Still we had 1st, 2nd and 3rd in common so he wasn’t that far away from my own view.

The Festival was a triumph for all concerned and I personally salute each and every one involved in its organisation and delivery.  A veritable feast of drama.  I’m tempted to travel as far as Athlone for the All-Ireland Open Finals, which has already begun.  Newpoint are on next Saturday night. 

Tonight’s Ulster Finals saw Newpoint’s ‘Portia Coughlan’ come second.  But here’s the rub!  It won Best Producer [Sean Treanor], Best Actress [Patricia McCoy] and Best Moment of Theatre.  I don’t ever remember a ‘Best Producer’ that didn’t also win Best Production.  I’m not sure there isn’t an inbuilt contradiction in this situation.  And Newpoint had already beaten Clarence [Belfast: Translations] twice on the circuit.

If they go on to win the All-Ireland next week, this will become evident.  My best wishes and congratulations to my friends Sean and Patricia and all the rest of the worthy Newpoint cast.

All the groups were effusive in their praise of their reception in Warrenpoint and Newry & Mourne.  I hope some will consider a holiday among us.  They will be made just as welcome as tourists as they were as entertainers.