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80th Ballymoney Drama Festival

Friday 1st March – Friday 8th  March 2019 
8.00pm Ballymoney Town Hall    (7.30pm on Final Night)

Friday 1st March

By Alan Ayckbourn

Relatively Speaking

 Ballymoney       Literary & Debating Society

Produced by

Jeremy Lewis

A witty and ingenious comedy about mistaken identity in which confusion, panic and desperate lying hilariously reveal some painful truths about the couples concerned.

Set in the 1960s, this was Ayckbourn's first West End hit. Noel Coward congratulated him on his "beautifully constructed and very funny comedy". Subsequent revivals have stared the likes of Felicity Kendal, Liza Goddard, Robert Powell and Kara Tointon.

Sir Alan Ayckbourn was born in London in 1939. He has written at least 70 full-length plays; more than forty have been produced in the West End and ten on Broadway. His work has won numerous awards and been translated into thirty-five different languages. He has been called the most performed playwright of all time after Shakespeare. 

Ballymoney Literary and Debating Society is one of the oldest amateur drama groups in Northern Ireland and has achieved a string of performance and production awards at Festivals for over 50 years. 


Saturday 2nd March

By Patrick Hamilton


Theatre 3, Newtownabbey    

Produced by

Alex Macauley

Bella Manning suffers from what she believes are the first stages of insanity: her husband, Jack,  struggles to help her - or so it seems. One evening, a stranger comes to the house while Jack is out and explains that he is there to help Mrs Manning...

The word "gaslighting" is used today to describe a form of psychological manipulation. The origins of the term lie in this Victorian thriller. It was written in 1938 and later made into a film staring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. 


Patrick Hamilton was born near  Brighton in 1904. He wrote several other successful plays, including "Rope" which Alfred Hitchcock made into a film, but he is best known as a novelist. 

Theatre 3 was formed in 1984 when three companies in the Newtownabbey area decided to join forces. In the last 30 years Theatre 3 have successfully produced a multitude of plays from local comedies for Summer Theatre to Classics from around the world. They have regularly appeared in the Ulster, Irish and British Drama Festival Finals. 

Monday 4th March

By Owen McCafferty

Scenes from the Big Picture

Slemish Players

Produced by John Dobbin

A myriad of  stories intertwine on one hot, summer's day. From youngsters struggling with unemployment, drugs and first love to an elderly couple facing the uncertainties of ill health, this multi-award winning play presents a panoramic picture of contemporary Belfast. 

Owen McCafferty lives in Belfast with his wife and three children. His is an acclaimed writer for the stage and the first film for which he wrote the screen play, 'Normal People', starring Liam Neeson & Lesley Manville, is due for release later this year. 'Scenes from the Big Picture' premiered at the National Theatre in London in 2003.

Liam Neeson started his acting career with Slemish Players. Over the years the company, which is based in Ballymena, has won numerous awards at local Drama Festivals and reached the Ulster Finals. 

Tuesday 5th March

By Amanda Whittington

Kiss Me Quickstep

Rosemary DramaGroup

Produced by

Ian McDonald

If you are a fan of 'Strictly Come Dancing' you will know that Blackpool is the Mecca of Ballroom Dancing. This sequin-studded, bittersweet comedy is set in the famous Winter Gardens and takes a look at the real lives behind the fake tan and the fake smiles.

The Guardian described Amanada Whittington as "our most popular female dramatist". She writes for both theatre and radio. 'Kiss Me Quickstep' was commissioned by the New Vic Theatre and premiered there in 2016.

Rosemary are the most active drama group in North Belfast. For over fifty years they have staged  two major productions every year. They have enjoyed considerable success on the Festival circut and their productions are also popular with audiences at Summer Theatre in Portrush. 

Ian Mc Donald, who directs this production, is an award winning Science Fiction writer; his Luna Series , a sort of Game of Thrones on the moon, has been bought by a large American production company. 

The dance sequences in Kiss Me Qickstep are choreographed by Brian Haslett, one of Ireland’s foremost amateur ballroom dancers.

Wednesday 6th March

By Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot

Newpoint Players, Newry  


Produced by 

Sean Treanor

This masterly black comedy is considered to be a classic of twentieth century literature. It is both intriquing and deceptively simple; two men, Valdimir and Estragon, await the arrival of someone called Godot who, famously, never arrives. Since its first performance in 1953, this play has been staged all over the world. It is open to a variety of interpretations. 

Samuel Beckett  was born in Dublin. He attended Portora Royal School and briefly taught at Campbell College before settling in Paris. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. In 1990 'Waiting for Godot was voted the most significant English Language play of the twentieth century. 

Newpoint Players from Newry has been active since 1946. Each year they participate in the ADCI and AUDF Drama Festival Circuit, sometimes with two concurrent plays. Every summer they run a youth theatre school at no cost to the young people involved. For the past two years they have toured to Montreal, Ottowa and Toronto. Their recent Festival productions have been written and directed by Sean Treanor, Newpoint's production of his adaptation of 'Murder and Seduction at the Red Barn' was placed first in Ballymoney last year. 

Thursday 7th March 

By Brian Friel

Give Me Your Answer, Do!

The Clarence Players

Produced by Francis Hastie

Three couples meet in the remote, County Donegal home of an impoverished Irish novelist who must decide whether or not to sell his manuscripts to an American University. In an evening fraught with painful revelations, this timeless play explores professional rivalry, family relationships and each character's hopes, fears and self doubt.


The title of the play is taken from the popular song 'A Bicycle Built for Two'. 

One of Ireland’s most accomplished playwrights and authors, Brian Friel was for many years a Patron of Ballymoney Drama Festival. Alex Blair, in his book The Golden Years,  writes “1964 was the Silver Jubilee which saw the world premiere of 'The Enemy Within', a new play by playwright Brian Friel...He was present at the production which not only won at Ballymoney, but also at the Opera House Finals. 'Give Me Your Answwer, Do!' premiered at the Abbey Theatre in 1997. 

The Clarence Players is a long established drama group based in East Belfast. They have competed in festivals throughout Northern Ireland, with a considerable degree of success.

Their productions  of 'The Mai' by Marina Carr and of Henrik Ibsen's 'John Gabriel Borkman' won the 2017 and 2018 Ulster Drama Festivals respectively.  

Friday 8th March 

By Richaed Harris

Stepping Out

Bart Players

Produced by Lorna Jayne Fletcher

Set in the 1980s, this feelgood comedy tells the story of a bunch of bumbling amateur dancers - seven women and one man, of mixed ages and backgrounds - who are preparing for a public performance. Their teacher is a former show-dancer, but does she have the  skills to help her pupils overcome their inhibitions and their multiple left feet?

Richard Harris is best known for writing episodes of The Avengers,The Saint, The Sweeny and A Touch of Frost but he is also a successful dramatist. This play was made into a musical film in 1991, starring Liza Minelli. 

Bart Players  are based in Belfast. Now in their 60th year, they perform three shows per season, from light comedies to serious dramas, at their home venue, the Canon Lindsay Hall, St Bartholemew's, Stranmillis. and across Northern Ireland.  

                    Followed by the Final Adjudication and the presentation of awards. 

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