Strabane gears up for 30th annual drama festival

The Alley Theatre. (1904PG07)

The Alley Theatre. (1904PG07)

Strabane is gearing up for a drama extravaganza, as the 30th annual drama festival to be held in the town opens at the Alley Theatre next week.

The Strabane Drama Festival is one of the cultural highlights of the year for local theatre goers, and this year nine drama companies will be bringing an eclectic array of productions to audiences from Friday, March 11.

Festival Director, Ciara McCay, said she’s really looking forward to celebrating the milestone event.

“The fact that the event that has run annually in the town of Strabane for a full thirty years is a fantastic achievement and the local Drama Festival wants to have as many people as possible in the community to come and join in the celebrations in reaching such a huge milestone!”

Some of the groups who appeared in the very first drama festival in Strabane in 1987 will make a welcome return to compete in the 30th anniversary programme including Belvoir Players and Theatre 3 from Belfast and Lifford Players, as Ciara explained.

“The Festival has become renowned for the quality of the live theatre presented. Nine top groups from throughout Ireland will visit Strabane to compete this year and the organising committee are confident that the Festival’s audiences will enjoy the entertaining blend of comedy and intense drama on offer.”

The festival will open on Friday, March 11 with Theatre 3 from Newtownabbey presenting the award winning play, ‘A Walk in the Woods’ by Lee Blessing. The play’s plot is suggested by a real-life incident, which occurred when Russian and American negotiators left the official Geneva nuclear disarmament talks for an unofficial “walk in the woods” to negotiate a breakthrough. An intriguing play that will keep the audience guessing throughout!

The winners of last year’s Festival’s Confined section, Compantas Lir from Galway, return on the first Saturday night with ‘Proof’ by David Auburn. Proof explores the concerns of a daughter gifted in mathematics who fears she may follow the route of so many prodigious geniuses (including her recently deceased father) - to eventual madness.

The first Sunday night’s performance is presented by Pomeroy Players with Hugh Leonard’s most famous play, ‘Da’. After Da’s funeral, Charlie returns to his childhood home only to find his father’s ghost stubbornly unwilling to leave the house or his son’s mind.

After what promises to be a fantastic opening weekend, the festival continues with a number of high calibre plays including the late Brian Friel’s most renowned play, ‘Translations’ performed by Butt Drama Circle from Co Donegal. Another Co Donegal group, Lifford Players, also return to Strabane Drama Festival with Tom Murphy’s ‘A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant’. Last year’s winners of Strabane’s Premier award, Ballyshannon Drama Circle will present Harold Pinter’s ‘Old Times’ and Belvoir Players from Belfast will present Philip Orr’s ‘After Dresden’.

The festival continues into its second weekend with the hilarious comedy, ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ by Richard Bean, and Frank Mc Guinness’s ‘Greta Garbo Comes to Donegal’.

The highly popular festival Fringe events will also take place in the Foyer of the Alley Theatre each night from 7.15pm showcasing local talent and perfectly complementing the 30th anniversary celebrations.

Bookings can be made through the booking office of The Alley Theatre and online and season tickets are available for those who want to enjoy the full festival experience.