The 41st Banbridge Performing Arts (Speech and Drama) festival finished on Friday night with some exciting and close final competitions.
The festival, which was the brainchild of Patricia Mulligan, started off 41 years ago in a very small way in the front dining room of the Belmont Hotel.
But with the help of a very enthusiastic and hard working committee, it has grown to be a giant among festivals.
Due to the renovations in the Belmont Hotel, the festival lost one of the three areas for the performers and had to return to its roots, the main hotel dining room in which the festival originally started.
This year over 2,000 performers entered. The adjudicators, Cally Foster, Marie Dixon and Marcia Carr had their work cut out
After five days of competition, parents and performers came to hear all the champion prize winners who had come back to compete for the overall awards and also some of the main highlights were invited back to compete for the Mc Kay Kenny Award, a specially designed trophy which is voted by the audience once they have seen all acts.
This year because of the talent on display there were no less than 12 brilliant acts in the finals.
Caoimhe Connell started the night with one of the new classes introduced to the festival last year, poetry and music, accompanied by her mother on the harp she recited a poem.
This was followed by Katie Hughes and her character study from the “Witches” by Rohl Dahl.
Emily and Zara were up next with a poetry duologue. Kiyan Telford then said a very funny traditional poem called “The Wedding”.
This was followed by a duologue “Alone it stands” performed by Sarah and Ethan about Munster’s great victory over the All Blacks.
There were two TV news readers Jodie Simmons and Odhran Livingstone. There were two more character studies “the Stake out “ by Dia McCrory, and Aoife Tierney with “Sez she”.
The final three acts were two poetry duologues, the “soldiers” with Michael and Odhran and the “Twits” with Dia and Katie.
The final act was story telling. In this class the performer is given three words and has to make up a story which includes all three words. Dia McCrory was given the three words just before the competition started and had to be very quick and clever to have her story ready.
The 12 acts competed for the McKay Kenny trophy which was specially designed for Banbridge Performing Arts Committee. When the results were announced later the winner was Sarah and Ethan with “Alone it stands” just ahead of “the Stake out “, “Little red Riding Hood”, and “TV News-reader”.
The competition of The Pentathlon classes, which involved competing in five different and nominated classes and which bring with them bursaries of £100 was very close.
In the junior class Aimee McVeigh won the £100 bursary and Michael Morrow won the £100 senior class.
The Spirit of the FestivalAward was presented by Eileen Johnston on behalf of the Festival Committee to Frank and Patricia Mulligan for all the work they do during the festival as well as founding it originally in 1975.
The President, Mr Frank Mulligan, complimented the Festival volunteers on their hard work and in giving up their time during the week to run the three halls.
He said the committee were indebted to the new ABC Council who supported the Performing Arts Festival and on behalf of the Performing Arts Festival Committee thanked the Council for its continuing interest and support.
The winners of all the test pieces, all the champions, all came back to compete for the overall awards in the Battle of the champions in the afternoon at 3.30pm.
Stephen Burke saying “The sea” was the overall champion of classes 3-12 and was presented with the Wellworth Shield.
Robert Russell with his “Johnny’s pockets” became the overall champion of classes 23-34 and won the St. Patrick’s ladies discussion Group Shield while Eoghan Henry ended up as overall champion of classes 13-18 with “the Vagabond” and received the Gloria Joy trophy.
Emily McKeown was most promising under 12, Aimee McVeigh won the Banbridge Council Cup as the most promising over 12.
The most promising boy was Conn Livingstone. Most versatile under 12 was Jodie Simmons while Odhran Livingstone took the title for over 12’s.
Best interpretation of an Irish poet for Irish Poet went to Alex King and the winner for the most comical act (The Gene Fitzpatrick trophy) was the duologue of Sarah and Ethan about the Munster rugby match.
The beautiful Cameo Antiques trophy foradjudicator Cally Foster’s “best moment” went to the “Music and poetry” (Caoimhe Connell) adjudicator Marcia Carr’s best moment was Ethan and Sarah’s “Duologue ” while Adjudicator Marie Dixon’s nomination went to Molly Leeman.
The three adjudicators’ choices for something very special went to the “Little Red Riding Hood”.(Adjudicator Marie Dixon), Lorna Ryan’s Irish poem (Adjudicator Cally Foster) and the traditional poem “ the Ladies Man” by Odhran Livingstone (Adjudicator Marcia Carr).
The Donard School got the NHS Celebration Cup for the highest mark in Special needs Category as well as the Joyce McMurray bursary!
Maralin Primary School won the INTO Trophy for the school with the most appeal in group work.
The final night, which this year was on Friday 6th November starting at 7.30pm, proved once again to be a main attraction with so many of the overall awards being presented. Best actress (The Cara Forker cup) went to Hanaah Craig for her portrayal of Queen Margaret from Shakespeare’s Henry VI and best actor (The Peter Mulligan cup) was Michael Morrow.
The Siobhan McGarry trophies for Unseen work went to Jodie Simmons (juniors) and Nicole Reynolds (seniors).
The Bowman Cup for Bible went to Lydia Rapanou. The special print of competitors entering the Belmont Hotel for the annual Festival was won by Evie Scott as she was judged to have the most technically good performance in the favourite poem section over the various classes during the week.
Lyla-Grace Thompson won the Abercorn PTA Rosebowl as the Primary School girl with the most appealing performance highest and David Craig did the same in the boys’ class winning the McGaffin Rosebowl. The most dramatic performance, the Sinead Lunney cup, went to Zara McDonald
One of the major awards of the festival is the specially commissioned Lockhart trophy. Rev. W.C. Lockhart who had been a founder member of the festival and its president for 27 years until his death in 2003. The new class was to be a recital class with a biblical theme and the trophy and the bursary went to Odhran Livingstone this year.
The premier award of the festival is always the Patricia Mulligan trophy which goes to the highest mark in the whole festival achieved in any of the 21 classes where test pieces had been set......this year the standard of the overall championship was very high with the winner, Dia McCrory, from Portadown having 90 marks.