John McCullagh February 11, 2006

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. 

Excellent. AND I note the welcome return of some old favourites from among the Groups. I suspect my old pal Brendan Magee will be on stage on the ninth night.

But I intended to outline the whole programme.

The Festival opens on Friday 24 March with the magnificent Sundrive (Dublin) and their rendering of the classic O’Casey’s, ‘Juno & the Paycock’. 

Belfast‘s Belvoir Players give us ‘Kindertransport’ (Diane Samuels) on Saturday night.

Ballymoney’s Literary and Debating Society on Sunday perform Charlotte Jones’ ‘Humble Boy’.

Rosemary (Belfast) return on Monday with Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’.

NOW, so far these are ALL former winning teams – so the quality will be high.

Tuesday and it has to be our own Newpoint! I’ve said a little already about this, so now I’ll just repeat that Sean Trainor is directing Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral’.

Wednesday sees the return of last year’s winners Dundalk Theatre Workshop with Michael Healey’s ‘The Drawer Boy’.

Phoenix (Portadown/Lurgan) present Hugh Leonard’s ‘Da’ – a perennial favourite – on Thursday night.

Friday sees the return of Bart (Belfast) with Alan Bennett’s ‘The Lady in the Van’.

The Festival closes on Saturday with Willy Russell’s ‘Blood Brothers’ presented by Ballymena’s Lurig Drama Group. I’ve never heard of them (the only team taking our stage not to be former winners!) but, like most others, I just love Blood Brothers – and this is guaranteed entertainment.

I must admit I’m excited by the prospect of such a rich programme.


The Iveagh, 21 and Breffni Bridge Clubs will just have to learn to survive without me for eleven nights. 

I suspect they might – as they’d never heard of me three months ago!


It will be strange – a Drama Festival without our long-time friend Irene McGivern, who passed away during this year.  We will miss her greatly!
 

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