08 March, 2018

Actors from all over Ireland will descend on Strabane’s Alley Theatre later this month for a celebration of drama featuring nine plays in nine days.

The 32nd Annual Strabane Drama Festival will see nine different drama groups perform from Friday March 16ththrough to Saturday March 24th all contending for the title of ‘Best Play’.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, officially launched the festival at the Alley where he noted that organisers have again secured a varied line-up of theatrical productions that will appeal to a wide range of tastes.

“I am delighted to see the return of this hugely popular event which is one of the longest running drama festivals in Ireland,” he said. “The Strabane Drama Festival not only offers local people a wide variety of performances but attracts hundreds of visitors from all over the country to perform in and attend the plays.

“The festival committee have used their extensive contacts to secure a diverse and varied programme of plays this year starting off with two comedy performances on St Patrick’s weekend.

“The programme includes some brand new plays including the comedy ‘Danger Money’ by John McManus as well as classics such as Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa.

“I would encourage the public to get involved by attending the plays which have something to suit all tastes and I would like to wish all the groups taking part the best of luck with their performances and their bid to win the title of ‘Best Play’.”

Strabane Drama Festival Director Ciara McCay gave an insight into the extensive festival programme: “Knocks Drama Group from Co Fermanagh will open this year’s festival with a new hilarious comedy, “Danger Money” by John Mc Manus.  Teddy ‘the Mucker’ Tucker has stayed in London for over thirty years until one day he abruptly abandoned his friends and his job and returned home to North Leitrim. He now finds himself in the bog wondering: Should snakes receive the Free Travel Pass? Are birds the souls of people that have passed on? What is that clown in number six smoking? Do we know what we don’t know? Why is he’s bagging turf when he doesn’t even have a fireplace…?  A story full of heartache and humour with McManus’s very individual madness sprinkled throughout, it promises to be a production to remember and really enjoy.

“On Saturday 17th Clanabogan Drama Circle will return to the Strabane stage with Ray Cooney’s hilarious story of three brothers, Tom, Dick and Harry.  In this play, Tom and his wife are about to adopt a baby and his brothers are anxious to help make a good impression on the woman from the agency who has arrived to check on the home and lifestyle of the prospective parents. Unfortunately, Dick, who has stashed boxes of smuggled brandy and cigarettes in the house, and Harry, who is in possession of a cadaver he is planning to sell illegally to a medical school, fail miserably. The adoption agency representative is aghast - and the illegal Croatian aliens who do not speak English are no help at all.

“The variety increases on the Sunday 18th with a brand-new play from Letterkenny Drama Group written by one of their members, Kieran Kelly.  Set in Letterkenny between the years 1914-1924, it tells the fictionalised account of Brendan McDevitt, questioning what made him pick up a gun to fight for his country and how he was affected by the seismic events unfolding around him – from World War 1, through the War of Independence and up to the Civil War.  This life altering decision will have far reaching implications for both himself and his family.

“The festival continues on Monday 19th with Pomeroy Players production of the outstanding “Dancing at Lughnasa” by Brian Friel and on Tuesday 20th Butt Drama Circle from Co Donegal will stage “Three Days of Rain” by Richard Greenberg. These are followed by Theatre 3 from Newtownabbey presenting “Quartet” by Ronald Harwood, “Death and Maiden” by Ariel Dorfman, a gripping three-act drama that deals with the effects of political violence on the individual and society, staged by Coolgreany Dramatic Circle from Co Wexford, “Slyvia” by A R Gurney staged by Strabane Festival’s 2016 winners, Prosperous Dramatic Society, about a dog, the couple who adopts her, and the comedy that results. 

“The festival will finish up on Saturday 24th with last year’s winners, Wexford Drama Group presenting “Proof” by David Auburn, which explores Catherine's fear of following in her father's footsteps, both mathematically and mentally and her desperate attempts to stay in control.”

As part of the festival’s successful fringe festival, there will be entertainment in the bar of the Alley Theatre every night from 7pm. 

For more information and to book tickets call the box office on 028 71 384444 or online www.alley-theatre.com.

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