The highly acclaimed Cavan Drama Festival celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, and to mark this landmark, Cavan County Council made a special presentation to the festival chairman, Peter Brady at a civic reception in the Council Chamber on last Monday evening (for full line up of plays, scroll down).
Cavan County Council cathaoirleach Paddy Smith was delighted to honour the Cavan Drama Festival. He had clearly done his research as he noted that the first festival winners back in 1946 were the CYMS Players from Ballyjamesduff, who performed ‘Autumn Fire’, and amongst the cast members that year was Johnny McBreen. CYMS Players evolved into the now famous Frolics, and happily Johnny is still involved in the group.
The cathaoirleach added that, while in the formative years local groups mostly competed for the festival honours, in later years groups from further afield like the Strand Players from Dublin and Sundrive Players became regulars. To indicate the distance that groups are willing to travel to participate he noted that last year for instance, Tubbercurry won the Confined section and Ballyshannon the Open section. Cllr Smith said it was his understanding that the festival did not take place on two occasions due to the presence of Foot and Mouth Disease.
There has been eight chairpersons over the 79 years and, in no particular order, they are: Tom Fitzpatrick, Andy O’Brien, Phil Cullivan, Brian Sullivan, Edward O’Hanlon, Bill Henry, Sheila McGinnity and the current chairman is Anglo-Celt columnist Peter Brady.
Director of Services Ger Finn, who was MC for the occasion, revealed that the drama festival came into existence following a public meeting in the Townhall on the June 11, 1945, and where Rev Fr JJ O’Reilly had acted as chairman. The resolution was proposed by PJ Devane and seconded by JF O’Hanlon to the effect that a drama festival would be staged in Cavan and it was passed unanimously and a guarantee fund of £50 was to be opened. A motion was also passed that Most Rev Dr Lyons, Bishop of Kilmore be elected patron of the festival. Bishop Lyons had intimated his intention to present a cup for competition at the festival.
Addressing Peter Brady the gathering revealed that Cavan Drama Festival was the second oldest in Ireland with Tubbercurry boasting the record having come into existence in 1945, just one year before Cavan. He said the festival currently attracts groups from all over Ireland and the ambience of the Cavan Townhall Theatre would appear to be a great attraction. “Cavan has a very distinct place in the drama world all across Ireland,” enthused Peter.
He noted that this year’s 10-night event had once again attracted an impressive line-up of plays and bookings are going well.
CAVAN DRAMA FESTIVAL'S OPENING WEEK
Friday, March 11 (Confined) Clanabogan Drama Circle perform Ray Cooney’s ‘It Runs in the Family’: A farce in which Dr. David Mortimore is about to address a neurologists’ convention when he discovers he has a son to an old flame, and sees him inventing all sorts of lies to hide this news from his wife.
Saturday, March 12 (Open) Corofin Dramatic Society perform ‘A Day in the Life of Joe Egg’ by Peter Nichols: A remarkable play illustrating the problems a married couple has in coming to terms with their child’s severe disability. Despite it’s serious topic, it’s a funny and most touching comedy.
Sunday, March 13 (Confined) Coolgreany Amateur Dramatic Society stage ‘Greta Garbo came to Donegal’ by Frank McGuinness: Set in 1967, the play tells the story of Greta Garbo’s visit to the big house of an English artist with a dispossessed servant family.
Monday, March 14 - (Open) Dalkey Players perform Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: In this adaption by Polly Teale presents Rochester’s mad wife Bertha as the alter ego of Jane, the downtrodden governess. This is an arresting story; a modern take on a classic novel.
Tuesday, March 15 (Open) Cornmill Theatre Group perform ‘From the Belly of a Whale’ by Charles McGuinness: A dark comedy set in a dystopian future an unlikely group discover that their horrific personal histories might tie them together more tightly than the all-powerful President C and his minion, Jonas.