78th Drama Festival

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The 78th Ballymoney Drama Festival will open at 8pm on Saturday, March 4 in the Town Hall and run for seven nights.

Audiences will be able to enjoy performances by seven groups of award-winning, experienced and respected actors; they may be amateurs but, as regular Festival goers will tell you, there is nothing amateurish about the productions!

Almost all of the plays on offer this year have been described as comedies but often the laughter is bittersweet. Lifford Players will open the Festival with Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh which certainly mixes humour with domestic tragedy. On Monday 6th, Rosemary Drama Group will stage Blue Stockings by Jessica Swale which combines history, misogyny and learning to dance the cancan! This will be followed on Tuesday by The Clarence Players’ production of The Mai by Marina Carr, a play set in the West of Ireland and focusing on four generations of the same family. Wednesday will bring Theatre 3 from Newtownabbey with Heroes by Gerald Sibleyras, translated by Tom Stoppard, a gentle comedy about three French war veterans and on Thursday The Bart Players will perform Summer, by the acclaimed Irish dramatist, Hugh Leonard, who said this was his favourite among his own plays. On Friday Holywood Players return with Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones, another comedy, this time about a modern-day Hamlet and the joys of bee-keeping. The final production on Saturday 11th March will be Bangor Drama Club’s version of Lovers, two complimentary love stories by the late Brian Friel who was a Patron of Ballymoney Festival for many years.

This year Ballymoney Festival is delighted to welcome Chris Jaeger, MBE as our adjudicator. Chris is a former Chairman of the Guild of Adjudicators, Professional Director of the Swan Theatre in Worcester and Artistic Director of Worcester Repertory Company. He was awarded an MBE in 2013 for Services to the Arts. As well as judging the overall competition, Chris will give a short verbal adjudication each evening after the performance – a great way for audiences to learn more about the play and about the details that make a production successful.

Almost every play on offer at this year’s Festival has also been staged in The West End or on Broadway, often both, in the recent past. All have been praised by critics, many have won coveted awards and all have been written by dramatists who command international respect. Ballymoney Drama Festival offers a once- a-year opportunity to see good productions of well-crafted, enjoyable plays in the heart of the local community. It offers excellent value for money! Bring your friends!

The first performance will be on Saturday 4th March and then the Festival runs from Monday 6th until Saturday 11th March. All performances will be in Ballymoney Town Hall and start at 8:00p.m, except on the Final Night when the play begins at 7:30.

Season Tickets cost £45 (Concessions £40) and can be purchased from Ballymoney Town Hall between 10.am and midday on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February. Nightly Tickets, which cost £9 (Concessions £7) can also be bought at the Town Hall daily between 10.a.m. and 4:00p.m. from Wednesday 22nd February or nightly at the Box Office during the Festival. There are further reductions for school students and for group bookings.

A synopsis of each play can be found on the Festival publicity material and more detailed information about the productions is available on the Festival Website: www.ballymoneydramafestival.com