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March 26 2018, County Drama Festival News Original Playwriting
By Sam Allen

IES win the County Shield (L to R) Mick Glynn (William); Adjudicator Alan Hayes; Director Celia Crookes; Irene Glynn (Kathleen)

An enthusiastic group of drama aficionados gathered in Ilminster’s Warehouse Theatre on Sunday evening to see three fine one-act plays and two worthy winners. If there was disappointment about the low number of entries in this year’s County Drama Festival, that was not evident on the evening as theatregoers enjoyed the contrasting dramas on show.

The Warehouse is possibly the perfect venue for the festival. This 120 seater playhouse exudes a welcoming and friendly atmosphere, as befits this most friendly of competitions. There is rivalry of course, but it is friendly rivalry and the camaraderie and sense of common purpose consistently shines through both on and off the stage. The adjudicator was GODA-accredited Alan Hayes, who has directed over 100 stage performances and has many years’ adjudicating experience, which was clear in his excellent verbal feedback, which picked up all the key points in a fair and constructive way. Three plays were entered in this year’s competition and each were winners in one form or other.

First up was Taunton Thespians’ The Tram-Track Tragedy, a Victorian Melodrama that included plenty of audience interaction, a number of not-so-subtle double-entendres and a preposterous plot featuring themes of love, tragedy and attempted murder! It was a fine start to the evening that saw the Thespians pick up the Lydia Durston Award for Greatest Endeavour.

Kitty Debieux picks up the award for Best Performer under 30

Next we had the only youth entry in the competition, Make Performing Arts presentation of Countryside Pursuits. This play was devised and performed by the performers who were predominantly aged 14 to 16. Set against the backdrop of the Suffragette movement, it explored themes of male privilege and sexism in language and behaviour. Despite its historic setting, the themes were bang up-to-date in the wake of the #MeToo movement at a time when we have just celebrated 100 years of women’s voting rights. The group won the Cely Trevillian Award for the Best Production of an Original Play as well as the Eyris Jones Memorial Trophy for Best Production by a Youth Group. That means that they will go on to represent Somerset in the Five Counties Youth Festival in Totton, Hampshire on 21st April. Kitty Debieux was awarded the Edward Grey memorial Trophy for Best Performer under the age of 30 for her portrayal of Elizabeth Bates. Adjudicator Alan Hayes said it was, “a really splendid performance.”

The final presentation was by Ilminster Entertainments Society, on home territory for their performance of Deirdre Kinahan’s Melody. This two-hander is set in Ireland and follows the developing relationship of Kathleen and William who meet while spending their lunch time on a bench in a park during a gloriously hot summer. In a successful evening for the group Irene Glynn was awarded Best Actress and Mick Glynn Best Actor while director Celia Crookes picked up both the Hope Cup for the Best All Round Presentation and the top prize, the County Shield for the Best Production. They will now go on to represent Somerset in the next round of the All-England Theatre Festival – the Wessex Division Quarter Final, which will be held in the Olympus Theatre in Bristol on 7th April.

During the evening Pam Hillier also announced the winners of the 2017 Original Playwriting Competition. The winner was Stumped by Anthony Grey who unfortunately was not able to be there to pick up his award in person. Pam also announced the launch of the 2018 competition, which starts on 1st April.

The raffle raised £96, which was split equally between the groups to help with funding as they move forward in their respective competitions. In summing up competition coordinator Philip de Glanville thanked the team at the Warehouse for their help and advice. He also paid tribute to the contributions from Festival Timekeeper Alan Jarvis, Technician Brian Perkins, Front of House Manager and he paid particular tribute for the hard work of Stage Manager Dave Goodall. He also thanked SFD representatives Pam Price for organising the raffle, competition photographer Roger Price and Pat Sollis for her hard work in organising the certificates and trophies.

There is a full list of completion awards below:


The County Shield: IES for Melody

The Hope Cup: IES for Melody

The Eyris Jones Memorial Trophy (Best Production by a Youth Group): Make Performing Arts for Countryside Pursuits

Best Actress Nominations: Dana Bullion as Nellie (Taunton Thespians); Irene Glynn as Irene (IES).

Best Actress Winner: Irene Glynn as Irene (IES)

Best Actor Nominations: Ben Williamson as Sir Putrid Canker (Taunton Thespians); Mick Glynn as William

Best Actor Winner: Mick Glynn as William

The Edward Grey Memorial Trophy (Best Performer under 30) Nominations: Peter Meredith (Taunton Thespians); Freya Carey Wood; Ella Wall; Kitty Debieux; Woody Knight (all Make Performing Arts)

The Edward Grey Memorial Trophy (Best Performer under 30) Winner: Kitty Debieux as Elizabeth Bates (Make Performing Arts)

Cely Trevillian Award (Best Production of an Original Play): Make Performing Arts for Countryside Pursuits

The Lydia Durston Trophy (Greatest Endeavour): Taunton Thespians for The Tram-Track Tragedy


Original Playwriting Competition:

Short Listed:

What Would Caesar Do? by Louise Pople

The Retirement Plan by Louise Pople

All Inclusive by Lydia Brimble

Stumped by Antony Bray



What Would Caesar Do? by Louise Pople

All Inclusive by Lydia Brimble


Highly Commended:

The Retirement Plan by Louise Pople



Stumped by Antony Bray