Musical company

Enniskillen Drama Festival 2022: Fermanagh-based theater company makes its mark

Two years ago, the Enniskillen Theater Festival was abruptly halted in the middle of its festival week with the announcement of the coronavirus lockdown.

At the time, Butt Drama Circle was preparing for its production of “Steel Magnolias” when the festival director had to announce that they had to go home.

At 6 p.m. that evening, 12 March 2020, all theater performances were halted in Ireland and the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland (ADCI) canceled all festivals.

Two years to the day after Butt Drama Circle’s Enniskillen Theater Festival performance was canceled, it was announced at the festival’s awards night that theater group Co. Donegal were the big winner with his production of Shaun Byrne’s ‘An Incident with Dave Cotter’.

Enniskillen Theater Festival Committee on the final night of this year’s festival Pictured L-R: Paul Doherty, Tracey Kernaghan, Christine Maher Irvine, Amanda Finch, Referee David Grant and Festival Director Dave Rees.

Big success

There was also great local success as the Enniskillen Theater Company received four awards for its production of Conor McPherson’s ‘The Night Alive’.

After a week of successful performances, festival director Dave Rees took to the stage at the Ardhowen Theater on Saturday evening to welcome the public to the Enniskillen Drama Festival Awards night, the final night of the festival – the finish line.

“It has been two long years and I am so happy to be here after a week of theater festival and to reflect on how important the arts, and especially theater, are to all of us.

“There is a redemptive power in theatre. It can certainly entertain, but more importantly, it challenges us, it asks us to reflect and it brings us together,” Dave said in his welcome speech.

“Early last fall, theater groups were asked to make a difficult decision: should they commit to a festival staged at a time when there was great uncertainty regarding the pandemic?

“Anyone who’s been involved in directing a play, let alone a six- to eight-show tour, knows how difficult it is from a creative standpoint; financially; the consequences this can have on an emotional, physical and mental level.

“So first I want to thank all the bands that have made this commitment,” he said.

Second, he then thanked the festival sponsors for their support; those who ran ads and nightly sponsors including Radiant Dentistry, Occupational Therapy NI, Killyhevlin Hotel, Crudden and Dolan, The Credit Union, Lochside Garages and Modern Tires.

Dave went on to thank the Theater Festival Committee who “worked so hard” to organize the festival, and the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, with a special mention to Bryony May, Director of Arts.

He also thanked those involved in catering for theater groups, including The Moorings and The Giddy Cup, and the staff and volunteers at Ardhowen Theatre.

“There is a saying. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’; well, it takes a supportive city to do a festival, so a big thank you to our audience,” Dave said.

Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the performance of Letterkenny Music and Drama Group’s “Dramateurs” had to be cancelled.

The rest of the week went off without a hitch, with each drama group bringing their A game to the Ardhowen stage with skillful acting performances and outstanding production qualities.

Enna Trimble and Betty McCabe of the Enniskillen Theater Company.

Enna Trimble and Betty McCabe of the Enniskillen Theater Company.

However, it was a contest, and after much deliberation by referee David Grant, the winners of each category were announced, as follows…

2022 Enniskillen Theater Festival Winners

Big Winners (Blue Ribbon) – Butt Drama Circle – ‘An Incident with Dave Cotter’

Winners (Open) – Butt Drama Circle – ‘An Incident with Dave Cotter’

Winners (Confined) – Enniskillen Theater Company – ‘The Night Alive’

Best Director (Open) – Trish Keane – Ballyshannon Drama Society – ‘All My Sons’

Best Director (Contained) – Ena Trimble – Enniskillen Theater Company – ‘The Night Alive’

Best Actor – Richard Hurst – Ballyshannon Drama Society – ‘All My Sons’

Best Actress – Rachel O’Connor – Ballyshannon Drama Society – ‘All My Sons’

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Carbin – Enniskillen Theater Company – ‘The Night Alive’

Best Supporting Actress – Michelle Henry – Rosemary Drama Group – ‘Tartuffe’

Best Set Design – Betty McCabe – Enniskillen Theater Company – ‘The Night Alive’

Best Lighting – Chris Dykes and Shane Patterson – Ballyshannon Drama Society – ‘All My Sons’

Best Moment in Theater – Dave’s Final Speech – Butt Drama Circle – ‘An Incident with Dave Cotter’

Most Promising Young Actor – Laura McNamee – Newtownstewart Theater Company – ‘Family Plot’

Representatives from Butt Drama Circle, the big winners of this year's Enniskillen Drama Festival.

Representatives from Butt Drama Circle, the big winners of this year’s Enniskillen Drama Festival.