High praise for revival of Drama Festival

Friday night last saw a wonderful attendance at Roscommon Arts Centre for the final night of the revived Roscommon Drama Festival. Throughout the eight nights audiences were delighted with a selection of plays that mixed traditional with contemporary from both an Irish and international perspective.     Visiting groups from Sligo, Galway, Thurles, Skibberreen, Dunmore, Athlone & Dromahair provided a feast of drama to suit all tastes, praised the revival of the festival and commented on the great facilities that they found at Roscommon Arts Centre.    Over the eight nights audiences were treated to such classics as ‘The Glass Menagerie’ from the Deep South of America, ‘Moll’ and ‘Sive’ from the independent republic of Kerry, ‘All My Sons’ a Broadway Hit from Post World War ll, ‘The Brothers Malone’ from the centre of drama in Ireland – Athlone — ‘A Thief of a Christmas’ from the playwright’s own backyard — Dunmore, ‘The Cripple of Inismaan’ from the Aran Islands and Sheelagh Stephenson’s marvellous sisters’ drama from the North of England, ‘The Memory of Water’.    The appearance of Athlone Little Theatre on Wednesday last was a memorable historic occasion. At seventy years old they are the longest established drama group in the country. They have consistently produced three or four plays each year since. Having retired from the Festival circuit thirty years ago they went back on the road this year and had their first stab at collecting points for the All-Ireland in the Roscommon Arts Centre.    It’s ironic that Roscommon Festival which has been revived after twenty seven years was their chosen first festival appearance in all that time. Jason Gill wrote, directed and acted in their play, the brand new ‘The Brothers Malone’ a political satire which the packed house lapped up & joined in especially when they were asked to take part in a selection convention for a general election. Fun was had by all.   The adjudicator for this drama extravaganza was Dundalk woman, Brid McBride. Asked for her impression of the Festival and Roscommon she was full of praise:  ‘The Roscommon committee was the most united, democratic hard-working committee I ever came across and mind you I am a veteran of Festival committees — here in Ireland and many other corners of the globe like the United States, Germany, Italy   and even Japan.     ‘This committee was seriously efficient and friendly at the same time. They made it look easy and I’ve never been as well ‘minded’ — anything I wanted, needed or suggested was instantly available. I liked the fact that they multi-tasked so the rota system took in things like presentation, doing the raffle providing a taxi service making the tea, etc. No-one person was landed with the same job each night.   ‘A highlight of their planning was that instead of providing run of the mill trophies they commissioned Michael Fayne to design and create pieces made from his trademark bog oak. They will be treasured for a lifetime by those lucky enough to have won them.   ‘The venue was excellent and Averyl Dooher and her staff went the extra mile. The standard and variety of Drama was excellent. The Roscommon people made me so welcome that by the end of the week when I visited the Farmers’ Market people were coming up to me telling me which was their favourite play and commenting on my post-show commentary. They weren’t shy about saying whether they agreed or disagreed with my opinion.     ‘Roscommon town has something that’s being lost in other parts of the country — people who have time to stop and wish you the time of day. Local indigenous shops, no paid-parking, a Guesthouse which is also a number of other things- a home from home, community centre, meeting point, tourist office, advice centre — I could go on but will conclude that Mary and Eamonn Gleeson run a tight ship in a very friendly welcoming way.. I’ll be back.’   Award winners Best Actress:   Mary Condron  from Thurles Drama Group (for the part of Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie)   Best Actor: Sean Smyth — K.A.T.S. Galway (for the part of Joe Keller in All My Sons)   Best Supporting Actress: Dolores Hannon – Lough Gill Players (for the part of Helen in The Cripple of Inismaan)   Best Supporting Actor: Eanna O’Donnell — Coolera Dramatic Society (for the part of Liam Scuab in Sive)   Best Stage Setting: Dunmore Amateur Dramatic Society (Thief Of A Christmas)   Special Award — Best Moment of Drama: Coolera Dramatic Society (Sive)   Special Award — Adjudicator’s Choice: Dunmore Amateur Dramatic Society (Thief Of A Christmas) for live music aspect — Aine Sheridan on concertina & Brian Keating on flute   Best Director — Open: Paddy Henry — K.A.T.S. Galway (All My Sons)   Best Director — Confined: George Bruen — Dunmore Amateur Dramatic Society (Thief Of A Christmas)   Main Award — Open: 3rd place — Coolera Dramatic Society (Sive) 2nd place — Thurles Drama Group (The Glass Menagerie) 1st place — K.A.T.S. Galway (All My Sons)   Main Award — Confined: 3rd place — The Cloonacool Players (Moll) 2nd place — Skibbereen Theatre Society (The Memory Of Water) 1st place — Dunmore Amateur Dramatic Society (Thief Of A Christmas)   Perpetual Award: K.A.T.S. Galway (All My Sons)