Thursday 18 October 2018

Festival chairman aims to grow amateur drama

Jessica Farry

The recently appointed Chairman of the Western Drama Festival, Brendan McGowan, is aiming to encourage amateur drama further as he takes on his new role.

Having been involved with the festival for around 27 years, there are few better placed than Brendan to take on this role. He has previously served as secretary for the prestigious festival, and nationally was Chairman of the governing body, the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland.

"It's an honour to be selected as chairman," Brendan told The Sligo Champion.

He paid tribute to Billy Kilgannon, who had held the position of Chairman for 12 years.

"Billy Kilgannon was chairman for 12 years and he held that role with brilliant enthusiasm and commitment. He oversaw significant developments and was chairman for two All Ireland finals."

South Sligo is a hotbed of amateur drama, and this, Brendan says, makes the role that bit more daunting.

"This is the most daunting role I will have held within drama. The Western Drama Festival is the longest established festival, and there is such a rich tapestry of talent in the area. My role with the ADCI was daunting at the time.

"It is the most vibrant amateur drama festival in the country," he added.

Brendan has been involved with drama from a very early age.

"It all started when I was a child, I had a great interest in drama, my parents were involved so when we were of an age when we could go along and sit still for long enough, our parents started bringing us along. I always had my season ticket."

In 1989 he was then invited to join the committee: "Maeve Walsh took me under her wing and persuaded me to join the national body and I've been with it all ever since."

During his time as Chairman, Brendan is keen to encourage more drama groups to join the circuit.

"I suppose the next thing will be the 75th year celebrations. The next chapter really begins in March. I hope to continue in the same vein as my predecessors and encourage amateur drama locally and spread the word nationally. There are lots of amateur drama groups around who don't participate in festivals so I want to liaise with the Drama League of Ireland."

He also paid tribute to the late Oliver Flannery: "On a sad note, we lost one of our members, Oliver Flannery recently, son of one of the founding members. He is deeply missed. I looked to Oliver for advice a lot of the time. On behalf of the festival I would to send our condolences to his wife Phil and family."

The 2017 Western Drama Festival takes place for three nights from November 16th at St. Brigid's Hall.

Sligo Champion