On Friday, March 24, the Mid-Ulster Drama Festival at The Patrician in Carrickmore will officially open in splendour.
Sponsored by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, the 54th festival of its kind will run for nine nights in a row, closing on Saturday, April 1, with a special winner’s ceremony.
The festival will be directed by Tyrone lady, Patricia Nugent, while this year’s adjudicator is Padraic McIntyre.
Getting the festival underway on Friday, March 24, is the well-established group, Butt Drama Circle from Ballybofey, with their production of ‘Darkness Echoing’. Written and directed by Shaun Byrne, the play revolves around the return home to Donegal of Joe, who is visiting his seriously ill father.
On Saturday (March 25) Ballyduff Drama Group presents ‘The Welkin’ by Lucy Kirkwood. Set in 1759, the courtroom drama examines what happens when 12 women are on a jury that must decide the fate of a young woman, who has been sentenced to hang for murder, but claims to be pregnant.
This is a claim which, if accepted as true, could earn her a commuted sentence. (Please note: This play contains strong language, scenes of violence and themes of miscarriage.)
Newtownstewart Theatre Company takes to the stage on Sunday, March 26, with ‘Midden’ by Morna Regan.
This play tells the story of five women across three generations. Ruth, who has found success in America as a businesswoman, returns to Northern Ireland, but her arrival home provokes instant strife; opening old scars and revealing incendiary secrets.
On Monday, March 27, Theatre 3, Newtownabbey return to the festival, with Arthur Miller’s ‘The Price’.
This engrossing two-act play is about family dynamics, the price of furniture – and the price of one’s decisions.
The Pomeroy Players will present ‘The Hen Night Epiphany’ by Jimmy Murphy on Tuesday, March 28.
The all-female cast will tell the story of five women coming together to help to clear out a run-down cottage before the wedding of its new owner.
On Wednesday, March 29, Dundalk Theatre Workshop will stage their production of ‘Faith Healer’ by Brian Friel. The drama tells the story of faith healer, Francis Hardy, in four monologues.
On Thursday, March 30, Ballyshannon Drama Society will present ‘A Delicate Balance’ by American playwright, Edward Albee. This enthralling play explores the paralysis of those who settle down too easily.
‘Proof’ by David Auburn, will be on offer at the Patrician on Friday, March 31. Presented by Glenamaddy Players. this play explores the links between family relationships – and the real truth.
Closing the festival on Saturday, April 1 is Prosperous Dramatic Society, with David Mamet’s unflinching play, ‘Oleanna’. The play explores the explosive consequences of a sexual harassment claim made by a female student against her male college professor.
The tense, timely thriller has an additional resonance for today’s audiences, following the rise of the ‘#MeToo’ movement.
Barry McElduff, chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, described the Mid-Ulster Drama Festival as a ‘major highlight in Tyrone’s arts and culture calendar’.
“Audiences from far-and-wide will come along this year to support the drama companies on stage, and socialise with friends, old and new,” he said.
“Live plays and live theatre are hard to beat. I wish every success to Patricia Nugent, festival director, and to the wider festival committee.”
l The Mid-Ulster Drama Festival will take place at the Patrician Hall, Carrickmore, from Friday, March 24 to Saturday, April 1.
l Season or nightly tickets can be booked by contacting the Festival Box Office on 028 8076 1906, which is open daily from Monday, March 20 to Saturday, April 1 between 10am and 5pm.
l Season tickets are excellent value at £50 for all nine nights, and nightly tickets are priced at £8.
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