Summer Theatre News

A message from our Chairman Nicky Borrett:

We will be holding readings over the next weeks to choose a play for our summer production.

Our first reading will be one of Derek Benfield’s comedies, Running Riot, to be held on Tuesday 12 April at 7.30pm in CIYMS, Circular Road, Belfast.

Whether you’re interested in reading for a part, getting involved with the backstage or technical teams or just want to enjoy the social side of the evenings everyone is invited to come along and take part or simply listen in — the more the merrier.

If you know anyone else who may be interested please do pass on the details.


Back To School

Last night we had another evening of mayhem and madness organised, once again, by Andrea Brown. But this time with a difference – instead of meeting via Zoom we met in person at our CIYMS headquarters and welcomed some friends from Rosemary Drama Group. We enjoyed, among other challenges, having another crack at mastering Just A Minute and performing excerpts from The Browning Version, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Educating Rita and a Joyce Grenfell monologue!

Valentine Special

Last night we had a Valentine Special evening via Zoom. Andrea Brown was, once again, at the helm for an evening of fun and mayhem that included two members reading a Shakespearean sonnet and one by Elizabeth Barrett Browning — which they both read beautifully. Easy-peasy they thought, but then Andrea asked each of them to read it again, only this time using a different accent for each of the fourteen lines! Other highlights included a game of Charades and a version of Just A Minute, whose subjects all had a romantic connection.

Lockdown and Before

On Thursday 4 June we had the first of two very successful Zoom Play Readings — Don’t Dress For Dinner by Marc Camoletti.

The second reading on Thursday 6 August was Funny Money by Ray Cooney.
We’re greatly indebted to Andrea Brown who organised both readings.

A third reading, again organised by Andrea, on Thursday 10 September was Plaza Suite by Neil Simon.

On Thursday 1 October we had a great Evening of Improvisation organised by Andrea Brown.

On Thursday 29 October we had a Hallowe’en Spooktacular — an evening of readings and improvisation superbly organised, once again, by Andrea.

Andrea organised a Night of Festive Fun for 17 December which included everything from an interesting performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas to the evergreen ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, with a few improvisations and ‘cracker’ jokes thrown in for good measure.

Full Length Production 2020

Our Three Act festival production is Tina Howe’s Painting Churches, directed by Frances Hastie.

It tells the story of Mags Church, a young painter just launching a successful art career in New York, who returns to the Boston home of her aging parents with a dual mission: to help them pack up their house for their move to downsized, elderly living, and to paint their joint portrait for her important upcoming one-woman gallery show.

You can also catch Painting Churches at the following festivals:

Ballymoney — Thursday 5 March 2020

Larne — Thursday 12 March 2020

Newtownabbey — Monday 16 March 2020

Portadown — Tuesday 17 March 2020

Bangor — Wednesday 18 March 2020

Ballymoney Festival

Congratulations to Stephen Connolly on his Best Actor and Best Moment of Theatre awards and to Dorothy Wiley for her Acting Certificate.

Larne Festival

Congratulations to Stephen on yet another Best Actor award. Overall we came third.

Newtownabbey Festival

Although we opened Newtownabbey Festival, it subsequently closed as did Portadown, due to the coronavirus outbreak. Bangor had previously taken the decision not to run.

One Act Festival Production 2019

Our One Act festival production is Hugh Leonard’s The Last of the Last of the Mohicans, directed by Des Loughridge. It can be seen at the following festivals:

Moira Festival on Saturday 26 October

Bangor Festival on Thursday 7 November and

Newtownabbey Festival on Friday 8 November.

Moira Festival

Congratulations to Des Loughridge and the team on winning the ferstival.

Congratulations also to Con McAlister and Stephen Emmerson on their Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor awards.

Bangor Festival

The company came third in the Open Section.

Newtownabbey Festival

We took second place in the Open Section and third place overall. Con McAlister received the award for Best Actor.

Northern Ireland One Act Drama Finals

Congratulations to Con McAlister on his Best Actor Award and to Alan Marshall on gaining the Adjudicator’s Award for his set. Congratulations too to Lorraine Stevenson for her Best Actress nomination and to director Des Loughridge and the team for coming second overall.

Summer Theatre Production 2019

Full Length Festival Production 2019

Our full-length festival production was Brian Friel’s Give Me Your Answer, Do!, directed by Frances Hastie.

It ran at the Belvoir Players’ Studio Theatre on Friday and Saturday 22nd and 23rd February 2019 and at the following festivals in March:

Ballymoney (7th), Newtownabbey (12th), Portadown (14th), Larne (16th) and Newry (28th).

Give Me Your Answer, Do! is set on a sunny August afternoon in the old manse in Ballybeg in County Donegal, now the home of novelist, Tom Connolly, and his wife, Daisy. They are visited by an American agent who may, or may not, purchase Tom`s papers for an American College library. Joining them is their novelist friend, Garrett Fitzmaurice, and his wife, Grainne, whose marriage may, or may not, outlive the year. Absent from the occasion but overshadowing it by her tragedy is Bridget, the mentally-ill daughter of Tom and Daisy, who has been institutionalised since she was a child.

Ballymoney Drama Festival

Our production took second place and Jackie Wilson received the Dalriada Cup for Best Actress, for her portrayal of Daisy Connolly. Included in the nominations were Frances Hastie for Best Director, Rick Andrews for Best Actor, Stephen Connolly for Best Supporting Actor, Dorothy Wiley for Best Supporting Actress and Alan Marshall for Decor.

Newtownabbey Drama Festival

The company received the David Brown Orr Runner-up Trophy. Congratulations to Jackie Wilson, Dorothy Wiley (as Maggie Donovan) and Stephen Connolly for their Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Moment of Theatre Awards. Stephen was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Others nominated were Frances Hastie (Best Director), Roger Jennings (Best Actor) and Alan Marshall for Decor and Set Design awards.

Larne Drama Festival

Give Me Your Answer, Do! took the Festival of Britain Commemoration Trophy for highest overall marks at the festival. The Major Williamson Memorial Trophy for Production went to Frances Hastie. The Joan McCully Award for Best Actor went to Stephen Connolly, as Jack Donovan, and the Elizabethan Coronation Trophy for Best Actress to Jackie Wilson. There were nominations for cast members Rick Andrews, Andrew McNeill, Dorothy Wiley and Lorraine Stevenson and for Costume, Lights and Set.

Portadown Drama Festival

Congratulations to Stephen Connolly on picking up the Best Supporting Actor award (the R Spence and Son Trophy) and his second Best Moment of Theatre award (the William McKay Kenny Cup). Congratulations too to Jackie and Dorothy on their nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Overall, we came fourth.

Newry Drama Festival

While the company wasn’t placed two members were nominated for acting awards — Dorothy Wiley (Best Actress) and Stephen Connolly (Best Actor). We were also nominated for costumes and Best Moment of Theatre.

Ulster Drama Festival — Theatre at The Mill, Newtownabbey

We were delighted that Give Me Your Answer, Do! qualified for the Ulster Drama Festival and took to the boards on Wednesday 17 April 2019.

Ulster Drama Festival

Congratulations to Stephen Connolly, as Jack Donovan, on being awarded the Richard Cochrane Award for the Best Performance by an actor in a Supporting Role and to Dorothy Wiley, as Maggie Donovan, for her nomination in the best supporting actress category.

Churches Drama League Festival

Congratulations to Jackie Wilson (Best Actress), Jackie and Dorothy Wiley (Best Theatrical Moment), Andrew McNeill (Most Promising Young Player) and Alan Marshall (Decor).

Director, cast and crew also received nominations in the following categories: Best Director (Frances Hastie), Best Supporting Actress (Dorothy Wiley), Best Supporting Actor (Stephen Connolly and Andrew McNeill), Best Actor (Rick Andrews), Most Promising Young Player (Oonagh O’Flaherty), Best Cameo Performance (Lorraine Stevenson), Comedy (Dorothy Wiley and Stephen Connolly), Best Theatrical Moment (Moment of Silence after the wallet is recovered) and Backstage Achievement (Crew).

One Act Festival Production 2018

This was Nancy McPherson’s The Night I Danced With Cyd Charisse, directed by Alan Marshall, and was performed at the following One Act festivals:

Belfast — Friday 26 October, Belvoir Studio Theatre

Newtownabbey — Saturday 3 November, Courtyard Theatre, Ballyearl

Bangor — Friday 9 November, Studio 1A, Hamilton Road, Bangor.

Belfast Festival

Congratulations to Andrew McNeill on being awarded the Best Supporting Actor award. The company also won the Adjudicator’s Award for sustaining their accents throughout.

Newtownabbey Festival

The Night I Danced With Cyd Charisse took the Newtownabbey Festival Trophy for best production. Director Alan Marshall lifted the Best Producer award, Des Loughridge the Best Actor award and Dorothy Wiley and Andrea Brown shared the Best Actress award.

Bangor Festival

We were placed fourth overall and Des Loughridge was nominated in the Best Actor category.

Northern Ireland One Act Final

Our final outing was the Northern Ireland One Act Finals on Saturday 19 January 2019 in the Belvoir Studio Theatre.

Congratulations to Andrea Brown and Des Loughridge who were nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor.

Kindly Keep It Covered

Summer Theatre Production 2018

Roland Dickerby runs a health farm with his wife Julia, bought with the proceeds of a hefty insurance payout on the demise of Julia’s first husband, Sidney. Life isn’t easy for Roland and today Fate has something extra special in store for him: Sidney has decided to resurrect himself and turns up at the farm, just as Vanessa, the wife of Roland’s ex-boss from the Kindly Mutual, checks in for a health-giving visit. A fast, furious and frantic farce — Samuel French.

Full Length Festival Production 2018

Our festival play was Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman in a translation by Nicholas Wright, directed by Frances Hastie.

It played at Belvoir Players’ Studio Theatre on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 February, 2018 and at the following Festivals — Larne (Monday 5 March), Ballymoney (Friday 9 March), Newtownabbey (Thursday 15 March), Portadown (Friday 16 March) and Newry (Friday 23 March).

John Gabriel Borkman, a former ‘pillar of the community’ has been in voluntary seclusion in an upstairs room since enduring a prison sentence for embezzlement. His wife, her twin sister, his son and even Borkman himself are all trapped in the suffocating atmosphere of this claustrophobic household.

Larne Drama Festival

John Gabriel Borkman took second place overall and Jackie Wilson, as Ella Rentheim, won the Mary Hewlett Trophy for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. Stephen Connolly, playing John Gabriel Borkman, and Des Loughridge, as Vilhelm Foldal, were nominated for best actor and best supporting actor respectively as was Dorothy Wiley for costume design.

Ballymoney Drama Festival

Our production took third place and Jackie received the Dalriada Cup for Best Actress. Alan Marshall won the O’Cahan Cup for Decor and Drew McConnell, Paul Parkhill and Rosamund Monteith were awarded the Malachy McLaughlin Cup for Stage Lighting. Included in the nominations were Frances Hastie, for direction, Stephen for best actor and Des for best supporting actor.

Newtownabbey Drama Festival

Our production of John Gabriel Borkman took the Newtownabbey Drama Festival Trophy for the Overall Winning Team. Shaunagh McKirgan, as Gunhild Borkman, and Des Loughridge, as Vilhelm Foldal, were awarded the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor trophies respectively. Alan Marshall took the award for Best Set Design. We were also nominated for Best Director (Frances Hastie), Adjudicator’s Award (costumes), Best Actress (Jackie), Best Actor (Stephen), Best Supporting Actress (Lorraine Stevenson,as Malene), Technical Merit and Decor.

Portadown Drama Festival

Congratulations to Shaunagh McKirgan, as Gunhild Borkman, on winning the Mandeville Cup for Best Actress. There were nominations for Stephen (Best Actor), Frances (for interpretation of a straight play and Best Producer), Stage Presentation and Lighting.

Newry Drama Festival

As runners-up our production of John Gabriel Borkman was awarded The Lions Cup and the Owen Mooney Cup for Most Ambitious Choice. Frances Hastie won the Sean Hollywood Cup as Best Director and Stephen Connolly, playing John Gabriel Borkman, took the Ardmore Cup for Best Actor.

Ulster Drama Festival 2018

WE WON! The Clarence Players took the Premier Challenge Cup at the Ulster Drama Festival on Saturday night with their production of John Gabriel Borkman. As Best Director Frances Hastie was awarded the Belfast Newsletter Cup and Andrea Brown (Mrs Gunhild Borkman, right above) and Jackie Wilson (Ella Rentheim, left above) shared the UTV Hubert Wilmot Award for Best Actress. Newcomer, Amanda Rankin (Frida Foldal, right below) walked away with the Colin Blakely Award as the most promising young player and Alan Marshall gained The Friers Award for Best Decor.

Stephen Connolly (John Gabriel Borkman) was nominated for Best Actor.

One Act Festival Production 2017

Our production was Commencing by Jane Shepard, directed by Des Loughridge and featured Nicky Allister and Andrea Brown.

It played at the following One Act Festivals — Belfast on Saturday 28 October, Newtownabbey and Bangor on Thursday 2 and Thursday 9 November, 2017.

Nicky and Andrea shared the best Actress Award at Newtownabbey Festival.

Summer Theatre Production 2017

A devastating revelation leads to a series of hilarious situations as best friends, Pete and George, try to find a way out of their desperate plight without upsetting either of Pete’s wives or his second wife’s powerful mother.

Full Length Festival Production 2017

Our festival production was Marina Carr’s The Mai, directed by guest director Carole Stewart.

It had its first outing at the Belvoir Players’ Studio Theatre on Friday and Saturday 24th & 25th of February.

Subsequently it was seen at the following festivals: Ballymoney (Tuesday7th March), Larne (Thursday 9th March), Portadown (Friday 10th March), Newtownabbey (Tuesday 14th March), Bangor (Wednesday 22nd March) and Newry (Friday 24th March).

An accomplished, beautiful forty-year-old woman, The Mai has always sought an exceptional life. Robert, her cellist husband, has always felt stifled by The Mai’s ideals of perfection. After seventeen years he leaves her, whereupon she sets about building a dream house in the hope that he will one day return to her.

Ballymoney Festival

Overall we came second and director Carole Stewart took the Vin Smith Memorial Trophy for Best Director and cast members Heidi McKee and Shaunagh McKirgan received the Dalriada Cup for Best Actress and the Tom Dale Trophy for Best Supporting Actress respectively. Dorothy Wiley who was shortlisted for Best Actress received a certificate.

Larne Festival

Carole Stewart won her second award for direction, the Major Williamson Memorial Trophy, while the Elizabethan Coronation Trophy for Best Actress went to Dorothy Wiley and the Frank Davidson Trophy for Best Supporting Actor was awarded to Roger Jennings. The company also took the Alex Tyrrell Memorial Trophy for stage lighting and the Jaques Trophy for the Best Moment of Theatre. Oh, and we were second, again!

Newtownabbey Festival

The company took the Festival Trophy as overall winners and director Carole Stewart came away with the Best Producer’s award. We also lifted two presentation awards — the Chimney Corner Trophy for Best Set Design and the Newtownabbey Advertiser Technical Merit Trophy.

There were also a number of nominations — Best Actress (Jackie Wilson), Best Actor (Roger Jennings), Best Supporting Actress (Dorothy Wiley) and Rowell Friers Certficate for Best Decor (Alan Marshall).

Bangor Festival

Another first and another Best Director award for Carole Stewart. Heidi McKee and Shaunagh McKirgan received the awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. Jackie Wilson, Dorothy Wiley and Roger Jennings were nominated for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Actor respectively.

Newry Festival

Congratulations to Shaunagh McKirgan on her Best Supporting Actress award and to Dorothy Wiley and Roger Jennings on their Best Actress and Best Actor nominations.

We qualified for the RTE All Ireland Drama Festival in the Deane Crowe Theatre, Athlone (Thursday 4 – Friday 12 May) and appeared on Friday 5 May.

We also qualified for the Ulster Drama Festival in The Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey (Monday 15 – Saturday 20 May) and took to the stage on Tuesday 16 May.

Ulster Drama Festival

The Clarence Players are now proud holders of the Premier Challenge Cup, having taken top honours at the Ulster Drama Festival. Director Carole Stewart lifted the Belfast Newsletter Cup as Best Director, Jackie Wilson took the UTV Hubert Wilmot Award as Best Actress for her portrayal of The Mai and Alan Marshall received the Friers Award for Best Decor. Heidi McKee (Millie), Dorothy Wiley (Grandma Fraochlan) and Shaunagh McKirgan (Julie) were nominated for the Richard Cochrane Award for Best Supporting Actress. Congratulations to everyone involved with the production.

One Act Festival Production 2016

Our One Act Festival production was Anton Chekov’s The Festivities, directed by Frances Hastie.

It took to the boards at the following festivals: Bangor (The Space, SERC, Thursday 27 October); Belfast (Belvoir Players’ Studio, Thursday 3 November) and Newtownabbey (Courtyard Theatre, Saturday 5 November).

This comedy tells of  the fifteenth anniversary of the opening of a bank where the celebration soon turns to chaos.

Bangor Drama Festival

The company took the Abbey Press Cup for the Overall Winner and also the Tyrell Cup for Best Director (Frances Hastie) and the John A Lorimer Cup for Best Actor (Stephen Connolly). Tori Thompson was nominated for Best Actress.

Belfast Drama Festival

As well as taking second place overall we were awarded the Comedy Cup and Roger Jennings came out on top as Best Supporting Actor.

Newtownabbey Drama Festival

Director Frances Hastie took the Best Producer’s award and Stephen Connolly was nominated for Best Actor.

Northern Ireland One Act Final

The Festivities took to the boards once again for the Northern Ireland One Act Final on Saturday 28 January 2017, in the Belvoir Players’ Studio Theatre.

Congratulations to Dorothy Wiley and Roger Jennings on winning the Comedy Award at the One Act Finals.

Summer Theatre Production 2016

This year’s summer production was Beside The Seaside by Leslie Sands and was performed at:

Portrush Town Hall (Wednesday 3 to Saturday 6 August), Courtyard Theatre, Ballyearl (Saturday 20th August) and The Riverside Theatre, Coleraine (Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd September).

Full Length Production 2016

Our 2016 full length festival production was Jim Nolan’s Brighton, directed by Frances Hastie.

It was performed at the Belvoir Players’ Studio from Thursday 25 — Saturday 27 February and subseqently at the following festivals:

Ballymoney Festival on Thursday 3 March

City of Derry Festival on Wednesday 9 March

Larne Festival on Saturday 12 March

Portadown Festival on Monday 14 March

Newtownabbey Festival on Thursday 17 March

Bangor and Ards Festival on Monday 21 March, 2016.

Brighton celebrates friendship, hope and the resilience of the human spirit and centres on the characters of Lily, an elderly Irish woman and Fulham supporter who has spent all her working life in England working in the Civil Service, and former actor Jack Dunhill, just turned sixty, who has recently suffered an accident paralysing him from the waist down. The pair meet in the Sisters of Calvary Nursing Home in which Dave, a young care assistant, works.

Ballymoney Festival

As well as taking second place at Ballymoney we won the Lord Antrim Cup for Best Comedy and Dorothy Wiley lifted the Dalriada Cup for Best Actress. There were certificates for acting (Des Loughridge) and lighting.

City of Derry Festival

Congratulations to Dorothy Wiley on her Best Actress award.

Larne Festival

Dorothy Wiley and Des Loughridge were nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor awards.

Newtownabbey Festival

Congratulations to Alan Marshall on his Adjudicator’s Award for his set designs for four of the companies in the festival.

Dorothy Wiley, Des Loughridge and Carl Borrett were nominated for Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. There was also a nomination for Best Moment of Theatre.

Bangor and Ards Festival

Congratulations to Dorothy Wiley on her third Best Actress Award. There were also nominations for Des Loughridge, Best Costume and Best Moment of Theatre.

One Act Festival Production 2015

Our 2015 one act festival production J H Davies’ In The Blinking Of An Eye (directed by Des Loughridge) featured at Newtownabbey and Bangor festivals on Friday 6 and Friday 13 November respectively.

Joyce and Madge share a picnic and reminisce about their younger years. Their lives are linked by their love for the same man.

Congratulations to Nicky Allister (Joyce) for winning the Adjudicator’s Award at Newtownabbey Festival and to Jackie Wilson (Madge) on her Best Actress nomination at Bangor Festival.

We tied with Theatre 3, Newtownabbey for the third play in the Northern Ireland One Act Finals.