The Abbey Launch 2023


The 2023 RTÉ All-Ireland Drama Festival Launches at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre


Drama groups from around the country gathered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, for the launch of the 2023 RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, under the auspices of the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland.
Starting on Thursday, 27 April, and running until Friday 5 May, drama festivals from across the island of Ireland compete in the All-Ireland deciders, with the presentation of the final awards on Saturday May 6.

Festival Director, Regina Bushell, said: “This is a very special year for the festival as the ADCI, founded in Athlone in 1953, is celebrating its 70th Anniversary. Fittingly, the standard of the plays this year is truly very high, and expectation is building as our groups prepare to perform under the watchful eye of this year’s adjudicator Paula Dempsey. And this year we have the premiere of a brand-new Irish play written by one of the group members, as well as two amateur premieres.”

Dee Forbes, Director-General, RTÉ, said: “With the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, RTÉ is proud to foster creativity and acting talent through drama, and to bring the excitement and tension of this unique festival to audiences all over Ireland, through the partnership with RTÉ lyric fm, through RTÉ.ie and our social channels, and through RTÉ Radio 1. We are delighted this year to produce yet another ambitious radio and television campaign that gets to the heart of what make this festival so enduring: the power of drama, of the individual, and of the collective, and the resilience to start again. The spotlight is on Athlone during May, and we will be there”.

Co-Directors of the Abbey Theatre, Caitríona McLaughlin and Mark O’Brien remarked that ‘the RTÉ All-Ireland Drama Festival does fantastic work by providing a national platform for the many amateur drama groups that make up the rich and vibrant Irish amateur drama scene. This network is vital in nurturing interest in theatre at a local level, among both makers and audiences, and is an important part of our wider arts and culture community.’
They added that the ‘Abbey Theatre is proud of its continued support through the annual Abbey Theatre Award. We look forward to welcoming members of participating groups today, seeing their performances during the festival and inviting one of the finalists to stage their production in the Peacock Theatre.’

The official draw for the line-up for the 2023 RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival took place on Monday 10 April.
The 2023 festival sees the return of last year’s winners, Ballyduff Drama Group, presenting an exciting Irish premiere of ‘The Welkin’ by Lucy Kirkwood, while former winners Newpoint Players will present ‘Happy Days’ by Samuel Beckett. Dundalk Theatre Workshop will perform Brian Friel’s masterpiece ‘Faith Healer’, and Thurles Drama Group will present Conor MacPherson’s play, ’The Seafarer’. Former winners Dalkey Players are presenting ‘By the Bog of Cats’, Marina Carr’s play. And the festival will also welcome back former double winners, Prosperous Dramatic Society. Prosperous are performing the amateur premiere of “Oleanna” by David Mamet. Back too are Wexford Drama Group with the amateur premiere of the winner of the 2014 Molière Award for Best Play, Florian Zeller’s “The Father”, alongside Ballyshannon Drama Society with their production of the Pulitzer Prize winning, ‘A Delicate Balance’ by Edward Albee. Butt Drama Circle will return with another premiere, a new three hander Irish play ‘Darkness Echoing’ written by Butt Drama member Shaun Byrne, following on from the success of last year’s ‘An Incident with Dave Cotter’.

This year’s adjudicator Paula Dempsey, is an actor, director and drama adjudicator and holds an MA in Modern Drama Studies from University College Dublin. She has been adjudicating
since 2007 and is a member of the Association of Theatre Adjudicators.