THE curtain will go up on the West Cork Drama Festival when it returns to Rossmore next month.
This should be the 61st year of the much-loved festival, but due to the pandemic, it’s the 59th.
The festival was one of the very first casualties of Covid-19 back in March 2020, and it’s only in recent weeks that organisers dared to believe they’d be able to welcome back audiences and actors to their state-of-the-art theatre.
Festival chairman Andy Mahon promises it’s going to be a special year for West Cork drama.
‘And we’re really fortunate to have such a passionate and dedicated committee who have worked hard to make this happen, as well as our sponsors,’ he said.
Taking place over eight nights from March 11th to 18th, eight groups from all over the country will be performing for a place in the (confined and open) All-Ireland finals.
Among them will be Skibbereen Theatre Society who will be presenting Brighton by Jim Nolan on Monday, March 14th while Kilmeen Drama Group will be staging Conversations on a Homecoming by Tom Murphy on Wednesday, March 16th.
Both groups are known to pull a full house, and tickets are set to be at a premium for their performances.
The festival started all the way back in 1956 and over the years has had some pretty significant milestones.
That includes earned nominating status to the rural and urban All-Ireland finals in Loughrea and Athlone in 1976, and undertaking major renovations in 2012.
A sum of €440,000 was spent renovating the theatre to include tiered seating for 300 people, an hydraulic stage which can be raised and lowered and new ensuite changing rooms as part of an extension to the building.
The theatre is now used all year round by many groups including local school children.
Committee member Áine de Roiste says they’ve rightly earned the tagline of ‘the friendly festival.’
‘In past years, the drama festival in Rossmore has been a highlight for many people in West Cork and beyond,’ she said. ‘It is renowned for its friendly welcome, superb drama as well as its complimentary tea/coffee and biscuits!’
Andy said it was a great achievement that the festival had not only ‘stood the test of time’ but had grown in stature.
‘We’re so lucky to have the support of the community and the network of sponsors, year in and year out,’ he said.
Professional actor and director, Paula Dempsey is this year’s festival adjudicator.
• Ticket bookings open on Feburary 28th at rossmoretheatre.com. The box
office opens Monday 7th at 023-8838526/086 4881086 (12-7pm).
Shows are 8pm nightly, doors open at 7pm.