Monday 5th March – Saturday 10th March 2018
8.00pm Ballymoney Town Hall (7.30pm Saturday)
Produced by John Dobbin
A comedy, set in the 80s, before the days of reality TV. Ballymena girl, Heather, has entered her parents, Bridie and Val, into the Ireland’s Happiest Couple competition run by Celtic Cheese. The Prize: a re-enactment of the original wedding, appearance in all of Ireland’s newspapers and a highly coveted slot on local television.
Come and join them on Valentine’s Day, thirty years after their original wedding as a Pandora’s box of strange secrets and old deceits is opened.
Bernard Farrell is an award winning Irish dramatist. Most of his 21 stage plays have been premiered at either the Abbey Theatre or the Gate Theatre in Dublin or at Red Kettle Theatre in Waterford. His contemporary comedies - both light and dark -have been described as "well-wrought, cleverly shaped and with a keen sense of absurdity"
By Bernard Farrell
Monday 5th March
Theatre 3, Newtownabbey
Produced by Maureen Dunne
Quartet is a warm, witty and touching play. It is full of wicked, saucy humour about growing old and about the importance of art. It has been made into a film starring Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay.
Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred reside, contentedly enough, in a home for retired opera singers. Each year, on the tenth of October, there is a concert to celebrate Verdi's birthday. Then Jean, who used to be married to Reggie, arrives at the home and disrupts their equilibrium. Although they may not be as young as they would like to be, all the characters ultimately realise that they have lost none of their zest for life.
Sir Ronald Harwood is an author, playwright and screenwriter. He is most noted for his plays for the British stage as well as the screenplays for The Dresser and The Pianist. Interviewed for The Guardian in 2016, Harwood quoted Churchill when asked what was the most important lesson he had leant in life: keep buggering on. The characters in Quartet would probably agree!
by Ronald Harwood
Tuesday 6th March
Rosemary Drama Group, Belfast
Produced by Lindsay Wallace
Described as "a family inspired memory play", Pride’s Crossing focuses on 90-year-old Mabel Tidings Bigelow, who was the first female to swim the English Channel from England to France. Time moves backward and forward though the Twentieth Century, as Mabel celebrates her birthday with her daughter and granddaughter and reflects on the moments and the people that shaped her life.
The New York Post described this as “A play you will remember and forever cherish”.
Tina Howe is an American Dramatist. Pride’s Crossing is one of her best known works. It won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play and was a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
by Tina Howe
Wednesday 7th March
Newpoint Players, Newry
Produced by Sean Treanor
Newpoint players have a reputation for bringing the unexpected to the stage in Ballymoney. We are looking forward to this new version of a tragic tale, written for this company by their director, Sean Treanor.
In 1827 Maria Marten, was shot dead by her lover William Corder in Polstead in Essex. The two had arranged to meet at the Red Barn before eloping. Maria was never seen alive again. Corder sent letters to Marten's family claiming that she was in good health, but her body was later discovered buried in the barn after her stepmother spoke of having dreamed about the murder.
Corder was tracked down and found guilty of murder in a well-publicised trial which provoked numerous newspaper articles, ballads and plays. The most popular of these were melodramas – plays with a sensational plot about characters who display exaggerated emotions, the action interspersed with music and songs.
Expect truth and fiction, elements of the traditional and contemporary twists!
By Sean Treanor
Seduction & Murder in the Red Barn and associated events
Thursday 8th March
The Clarence Players, Belfast
Produced by Frances Hastie
The Borkman family fortunes have been brought low by the imprisonment of John Gabriel who used his position as a bank manager to speculate with his investors' money. The action of the play takes place eight years after his release. He is in voluntary seclusion in an upstairs room but his wife and her twin sister are also trapped in the suffocating atmosphere of their claustrophobic household as they all fight over young Erhart Borkman's future.
Henrik Johan Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is widely regarded as the most important playwright since Shakespeare and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1902, 1903, and 1904. Ibsen is regarded as the father of modern realism - he created three-dimensional characters and put them is recognisable situations. People in the audience could relate to the activities occurring on stage and the individuals involved.
By Henrik Ibsen
Translated by Nicholas Wright
John Gabriel Borkman
Friday 9th March
Produced by Leo McBride
Any play by Brian Friel will be popular with a Festival audience.
Set in the fictional town of Ballybeg 1936 around the time of the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasadh, this is a Memory play told from the point of view of the adult Michael Evans. He recounts the summer in his aunts' cottage when he was seven years old, when love briefly seemed possible for three of the Mundy sisters, when the family welcomed home their brother from a life as a missionary and when there were moments of joy despite economic hardship.
The play was originally presented at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1990. It transferred to London's National Theatre in 1991, winning the Olivier Award for Best Play, and subsequently to Broadway where it also won the Tony Award for Best Play. In 1998 it was made into a film starring Meryl Streep. This is play with a universal touch, going far beyond its Donegal setting in its poignant exploration of lost loves and frustrated ambitions.
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. It was presented by Ballymoney Literary and Debating Society and produced by G.E. Gordon.”