The talent of local groups shone during this year’s One-Act Drama Festival in Derry.
Terrific performances from Elaine Gillespie and Joanna Haughey from Strabane-based drama group Two Bridges in their production of ‘Pinky Promise’, ensured that they not only won the confined section of the City of Derry Drama Festival but also qualified for the Ulster Finals in January.
This means that the group could end up representing Northern Ireland in the UK Finals in July.
The One-Act Drama Festival offered both local fans and visitors alike some superb drama, a challenge and a unique chance to enjoy eight very different plays over three nights last month - a celebration of the joy of amateur production coinciding with Derry’s year as the first ever UK City of Culture.
Local teams and drama groups, hailing from any part of Ireland, each presented a one-act play and received a short public adjudication on their performance.
This year’s feast of plays included comedies, The Pushcart Peddlers, Heaven’s Waiting Room and Pinky Promise; classics by Tennessee Williams, Hello From Bertha and Lanford Wilson’s Home Free; a gentle drama, One Season’s King; something for the romantics, Recognition Scene from Anastasia, and a challenging and moving original work Reports are Coming in, set in Belfast in the early 90s.
The Festival is affiliated to both the Association of Ulster Drama Festivals and the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland, which meant ultimately that competing groups could qualify for both Ulster and All-Ireland Finals.
At the Awards ceremony in the Playhouse Theatre, adjudicator Anna Walker declared herself “…bowled over by the standards achieved by many of the groups during this festival”.
City centre drama group, Laugh Your Leg Off, came second in their section but their leading actor Kris Doherty won the best actor medal for his very funny performance as the Angel Gabrielle in ‘Heaven’s Waiting Room’.
The overall festival winners were Rasper Players from Co. Wexford.
Their production of ‘Home Free!’ by Lanford Wilson saw off strong competition from former UK holders Clarence Players and Theatre 3 to secure a much coveted place at the All-Ireland finals in Roscommon in December.
The festival, which featured eight productions over three nights, has now been running for two years. When asked if it would now be a regular part of the city’s cultural calendar, Festival Chair Elizabeth McCloskey said: “The festival provides a valuable opportunity for local groups to showcase their work, to develop their talents and to measure their skills against their peers.
“It has an important role to play in nurturing the legacy of amateur drama in the City and as a committee we will do our best to sustain it,” she added.
Full festival results are available on the Derry Drama festival facebook page.