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January 31 2021, County Drama Festival News

By Philip de Glanville

Adjudicator Nick Wilkes

The darkest days of the winter are now behind us – literally and, we hope, figuratively – and despite gloomy news about persistently high infection rates, appalling mortality figures, and the likelihood that we shall all need to observe some sort of social-distancing measures far into the foreseeable future, there are grounds for feeling cautiously optimistic about a return to some version of normality, at least in terms of performing amateur theatre, this summer.

The main reason for this position is that the AETF – The All England Theatre Festival for short plays – has decided that it will be running an English Final in Bridlington in September, “come hell or high water”. Consequently the Western Area, which covers our quarter of the country, will hold a Semi-final at the Merlin Theatre in Frome in mid-July, and the SFD has decided to go ahead with a County Drama Festival at the Warehouse Theatre in Ilminster over the first weekend of June. The Somerset winner will then have the option of competing with the four other teams who have been selected to represent the rest of the Western Area at first rounds held in May/June.

Of course it is possible that Government guidance will prohibit audiences from attending, even though the prevalence of Coronavirus in the community is likely to be at its lowest by then, but we are quite prepared for the possibility that the Festival will have to be held “behind closed doors” if necessary, with full Covid-security. Our adjudicator, Nick Wilkes, is happy to go ahead on this basis, the Warehouse Theatre management are delighted with the idea, and several of the teams who were to have competed last year have declared themselves interested.

In fact we already have enough potential entries to fill at least two of the four sessions available. If any other Somerset-based drama groups would like to take part they should get in touch with Philip de Glanville, County Drama Coordinator, via pmdeglanville@sky.com , as soon as possible and before Easter Monday (5th April 2021), at the latest. Slots will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.

Stuck for a script? Please note that any or all five of the original plays shortlisted for the 2020 Original Playwriting Competition are available for performance in this year’s County Drama Festival, without payment of a licence fee, and that the SFD will offer £100 to help defray production costs for any member group which takes one on. These scripts can be downloaded from the Original Playwriting page on the SFD website: www.somersetdrama.org.uk