Nine nights of great drama!

Pictured at the Roscommon Drama Festival launch at Aras An Chontae recently were Mairead Nally, Chairperson, Roscommon Drama Festival, and Mary Finn, Roscommon Drama Festival committee member. Pic: Michelle Hughes Walsh

At the recent launch of the 2024 Roscommon Drama Festival, committee chairperson Mairead Nally outlined details of the nine nights of great drama which will kick off this Friday evening, March 1st.

“On our opening night we are delighted to welcome Holy Cross/Ballycahill Drama Group with their production of Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel. Set in a house in Ballybeg, five Mundy sisters, Jack, a repatriated priest and Michael, the 7-year-old son of the youngest sister, take us on an emotional journey, from laughter to tears. It’s a night of drama not to be missed.

“On night two, The Dalkey Players, last year’s winners of the All-Ireland Open Finals in Athlone, will take to the stage to bring us ‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller. This play delves into the Salem witch trials that gripped Salem in Massachusetts in America in 1692. It’s a powerful drama.

“On night three, Ballyduff Drama Group take the stage with ‘The Ferryman’ by Jez Butterworth – a story based in Northern Ireland. The year is 1981, it’s the Maze prison, the hunger strikers are dying and out in the bog a body has been dug up. This play has all the hallmarks of a very compelling night of theatre.

“On night four, we welcome our neighbours, the Glenamaddy Players, under the direction of Coman Keaveny, with their production of ‘The Outgoing Tide’ by Bruce Graham. They bring us this touching family drama which poses thought-provoking questions about personal choices and what it means to truly love someone.

“On night five, from Co Mayo, we welcome back the Ray Leonard Players. This group brings us ‘Eclipsed’ by Patricia Burke-Brogan. Set in a Magdalene Laundry, this play reminds us of our relatively recent history and the stolen lives of these women and children.

“On night six, The Phoenix Players from Tubbercurry return to Roscommon Drama Festival with ‘Animal Farm’ a play written by George Orwell. Set on Manor Farm, the animals have overthrown their masters and assumed control of the farm. Why not come along on the night to discover how that turns out – you’ve got to be curious.

“On night seven, we have St Patrick’s Drama Group from Westport. This is their first time competing in the Roscommon Drama Festival. ‘Agnes of God’, written by John Pielmeier, is set in a convent. A court-appointed psychiatrist is charged with assessing the sanity of the novice accused of murdering her new-born. Who killed the infant and who fathered this tiny victim? Come along and uncover the truth.

“On night eight, we welcome Newtownstewart Theatre Company, their first time treading the boards in Roscommon. Their play, ‘The new electric Ballroom’, written by Enda Walsh, tells the story of three sisters in a remote fishing village trapped in memories of something resembling romance. It is described as entertaining, tender-hearted and dark.

“Finally, on night nine, to close our festival we bring you ‘I do not like thee Dr Fell’ by Bernard Farrell. This production is brought to us by Kilmuckridge Drama Group. It’s a hilarious American group-style therapy session, where six people are locked in a room, and yes, you’ve guessed it, the session does not go as planned”.

Ms. Nally noted that participating groups will travel from Tipperary, Waterford, Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Wexford and Tyrone, adding that “they will provide us with a feast of drama, which will touch on all emotions in the course of the nine nights”.