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RT ALL IRELAND DRAMA FESTIVAL

16/05/2022

Ballyduff Drama Group from Co. Waterford

Scoops Top Award in Special 70th Year of RT All Ireland Drama Festival

Ballyduff Drama Group, directed by Ger Canning, were crowned RT All Ireland Drama Champions for their performance of Rabbit Hole' by David Lindsay-Abaire at the Gala Awards ceremony in Athlone's Radisson Blu Hotel on Saturday May 14th as the curtain came down on the 70th year of the RT All Ireland Drama Festival. Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group, directed by Kieran Tyrell, who performed The Good Father' by Christian O'Reilly were placed second and Palace Players, directed by Danny Buckley, who performed Chapatti' also by Christian O'Reilly were placed third.

Rabbit Hole' is David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer prize-winning drama featuring a happy suburban couple who have everything they could want until a shocking and sudden event turns their world upside down and leaves them drifting perilously apart. Ballyduff Drama Group have been on the three act circuit for over 30 years. They are directed by Ger Canning, who won the Best Director award. The Adjudicator, Michael Poynor, commended her for extracting all the humour and pathos from the play and inspiring a remarkable ensemble performance for the group'. There was great excitement when the results were announced. The group previously won the All Ireland back in 2004 with Marina Carr's On Raftery's Hill'. In addition to best director they also take home the Award for Best Stage Management, the Award for Best Stage Setting and one of their actors, Ronan Bennett, who played Jason in the play, won the ADCI/DLI Summer School Scholarship.

Other award winners included Robert Massey, Prosperous Dramatic Society, who played Alan in God of Carnage' who won the award for Best Actor. Mary Colbert, Palace Players, who played Betty in Chapatti', won the best actress award. The award for Best Supporting Actor went to Dermot Byrne who played the Lord of the Underworld in Eurydice performed by Dalkey Players. Sharon Mawe, Kilmeen Drama Group, who played Peggy in Conversations on a Homecoming, won the Best Supporting Actress Award. The award for best stage lighting, designed by Kevin McEvoy, went to The Good Father', Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group. The John Butler Scholarship to the Drama League of Ireland (DLI) Summer School 2022 went to Alison Murphy, Kilmeen Drama Group, who played Anne in Conversations on a Homecoming'. Butt Drama Circle's Shaun Byrne won the Adjudicator's prize for New writing' - An Incident with Dave Cotter'. Shaun wrote, directed and acted in the play.

It was a glittering evening of celebration in Athlone in a week that saw thousands flock to the Athlone where, following a hiatus of two years, the very best of amateur drama was on display in the newly refurbished Dean Crowe Theatre.

Speaking before the awards presentation, the Festival Director, Regina Bushell, remarked that this year has been such a challenging time for all of our drama groups, our festivals and for our adjudicators. Play readings and rehearsals were practiced over zoom and even outdoors in splendid isolation! It was been the pure love, commitment and dedication of the amateur drama

movement in Ireland that made the festivals happen right across the country in such a short space of time this year to deliver the magic that is theatre with superb productions on stage'. She added that the festival was a great success and that a lively and entertaining Festival Club took place each night after performances and an expanding and diverse Festival Fringe ran in parallel with the Festival. Athlone town shone and showcased its best with themed window displays, flags and flower arrangements. Regina expressed her sincere gratitude to the festival's main sponsors, RT , for their continued support of the festival and the extensive coverage the festival had received for this its 70th year. She also thanked the nighty sponsors and the local and national media for getting full-square behind the festival and contributing to the successful event it has become. She thanked Athlone Credit Union for their continued support of the Festivals Schools Playwright Competition which grows from strength to strength! Speaking on behalf of RT , former Head of Radio, Tom McGuire, noted that RT 's role in the drama festival was important because the festival was not just about fostering the arts, it was also about tapping into local communities in every corner of this island. And that's why RT needs to be here today.'

Regina thanked the new co-directors from the Abbey Theatre, Caitr ona McLaughlin and Mark O'Brien for their support and their generous invitation to the winners of the 2022 Abbey Award, to perform on the Peacock stage next month. Before announcing the winners they stated that it's really important that amateur drama groups are giving young people and people who aspire to being in the industry professionally, a place to discover theatre and a place to discover the skills and the storytelling. And what it means to be an artist'. Announcing Ballyduff as the winners of the Abbey Award they noted that they loved the ambition, the uniformity of the quality of acting and the ensemble'. They thought there was great commitment to the emotional arcs in the play, and they really enjoyed the detail in such a naturalistic set'.

First time adjudicator at the festival is Mr. Michael Poynor, President and Chair of ADA and an award winning Director and Lighting Designer. He summed up that this year's final has seen an extraordinarily accomplished collection of plays, the standards of acting and direction reaching dizzying heights!' He highlighted the collective effort of the groups noting that the nine competing companies involved 190 peop
LINK: https://about.rte.ie/2022/05/16/rte-all-ireland-drama-festival/...
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