The 2012 All Ireland Drama Festival Circuit got underway with the opening of Rush festival, Dublin last Thursday night, February 23, and will continue until the curtain comes down on Cavan and Glenamaddy festivals on April 1.
And so begins the gruelling trek for 29 drama groups who between them will enter 35 local festivals taking place the length and breadth of the country over the coming weeks.
All participating groups are vying to be one of the nine finalists to appear at the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival which will take place nightly at the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone from Thursday, May 3 until Friday, May 11, with the gala presentation of awards taking place on Saturday, May 12, in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone at 9pm.
This year marks the 60th All Ireland finals which have been held in Athlone continuously since the inaugural event in 1953. The festival has seen many changes over the past six decades, but its appeal and attention to high standards in drama has never waned.
Festival Director Billy Nott says that preparations for the finals are at an advanced stage as the outcome of the circuit is eagerly awaited.
"The local organising committee are planning many cultural events over the next two months to promote the big occasion" said Billy.
"A number of fringe events will take place in March including a presence at this year's St Patrick's Day parade, drama and lighting workshops for schools from March 20 to 22 and an acting workshop for adults in the Passionfruit Theatre over five Mondays commencing Monday, March 26," he added.
The latter event will be hosted by Paul Meade from the Lir Academy and Artistic Director of Guna Nua Theatre Company. Full details of this and all forthcoming events are available on the festival website at www.dramafestival.ie.
Meanwhile the drama of the Circuit is set to unfold over the coming weeks and enthusiasts can follow the progress of Kilmeen, Cornmill, Silken Thomas and Ballyduff, along with all the other participants on the website: www.adci.ie