Abbey Theatre celebrates the amateur drama movement

The 60th RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival was launched at the Abbey Theatre yesterday at an event attended by Minister Jimmy Deenihan, Bill Nott, Chairman of the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, committee members and local drama groups from around the country.

The 60th RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival was launched at the Abbey Theatre yesterday at an event attended by Minister Jimmy Deenihan, Bill Nott, Chairman of the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, committee members and local drama groups from around the country.

Having run in Athlone since 1953, early winners of the All Ireland Drama Festival were from Listowel, Co. Kerry. They presented a play by a little known playwright called John B. Keane. That play was Sive.

Speaking at the event, Chairman of the Abbey, Dr Bryan Mc Mahon said, “The Abbey Theatre fully recognises the strength of the local drama movement in Ireland. With its local energy and dynamism, the local drama movement educates, informs and creates a critical audience which feeds into the aims and objectives of Ireland’s national theatre. The Abbey Theatre pledges its continued support for the movement with the launch of the Abbey Theatre Award. Each year the winners of this award will be invited to perform on the Peacock stage for a three night run.”

In highlighting the national theatre’s commitment to supporting amateur drama in Ireland and recognising the strength of the local drama movement in the country, he announced the establishment of the Abbey Theatre Award. Each year the winners of this award will be invited to perform at the Abbey Theatre for a three night run.

There is a set criteria for the Abbey Theatre Award in that the plays need to compliment the Abbey’s artistic programme and consideration will have to be made as to whether the theatre has staged the play in the past or if another major theatre company has done so recently.

Last year the Abbey theatre invited the excellent Silken Thomas Players from Rathangan, Co. Kildare to present Angels in America – a play that the New York Times described as the ‘most ambitious American play of our time’. It was a wonderful experience for all Abbey staff to work with such dedicated theatre makers as Sean Judge and Conor O’Connell and all involved and it is a tradition with amateur drama that we hope to continue for many years to come.

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