The North West Schools Drama Festival, which is being organised by the Strabane Drama Festival Committee and will be held at the Alley Theatre in Strabane, is delighted to annouce this groundbreaking festival will have a special celebrity guest judge for the two evenings, actor and TV star, Dan Gordon. Currently directing a play with the world famous Belfast Lyric Theatre and star of the hit BBC Show “Give My Head Peace”, Dan Gordon stated he “was delighted to be involved in this fantastic grass roots festival, which will tap into the acting talent the North West has to offer”. The festival is being funded by the Good Relations Section of Strabane District Council, and is supported by the office of the First Minstster and Deputy First Minister.
Dan is excited with the prospect of developing the North West Schools Drama Festival, which will see High Schools and Colleges from across the district compete to be festival drama champions. “I think this is a great idea for the North West, not only will it help students learn more about acting, but as time progresses it will offer a stepping stone for even bigger things” commented Dan. “When I was younger and competing in school drama festivals I worked alongside guys like Dermot Murnaghan, who through working on stage developed his skills and confidence to move into television and journalism. Wallace McDole was another contemporary who found school festivals essential in developing his skills, he went onto work at the Lyric as a production manager. I know several others who went onto acting, directing, technical or dance roles in Ireland and across the UK, simply down to how inspired they became through the schools drama festival scene.”
As students take to the Alley stage, Dan admits to being jealous of the resources now on offer to students, “when we competed it was all about getting changed in cold classroom, no proper dressing rooms and the stage lights were often a bit unreliable to say the least. Now pupils can benefit from superb venues like the Alley Theatre in Strabane, backed up with great lighting and sound, a relaxing theatre space for the audience, proper dressing rooms and even a box office to help sell the tickets…. we had to make do with raffle ticket stubs.”
Dan will be the adjudicator for the 2 day schools drama festival and hopes he will have the chance to pass on some of his skills and thoughts to the students over that period. “If I could meet a young Dan Gordon just about to start out I would advise him that acting is all about listening, watching and reacting. Feed of the energy from the other actors and the audience. Watch as many actors as possible….and steal the best ideas!”
Ciaira McCay from the Strabane Drama Festival Committee stated “We are delgihted that Dan Gordon has agreed to be the festival adjudicator; he has a strong history in supporting grass roots acting and is a product of the drama festival scene himself. We have performances lined up from pupils including Holy Cross College in Strabane, Dromore’s St Johns High School, St Cecilia’s In Derry, Ballygawley’s St Ciarans and Thornhill College in Derry. The schools will be offering an exciting mix of work including pieces written by the students to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”.
Currently Dan is working on numerous projects, including directirng the forthcoming production of “The Miser” from the Lyric, which will be appearing at the Alley later in the summer. “I am really looking forward to this new festival and I urge everyone in the community to get behind these young actors who are making their first ever big production.” Tickets are now on sale for the North West Schools Drama Festival, only £4, £3 (con) or book online at www.alley-theatre.com