Island’s hosting of British All-Winners Festival of Plays ‘wondrous’

| August 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Island’s hosting of the National Drama Festivals Association’s (NDFA) 41st British All-Winners Festival of Plays finals at the Gaiety Theatre in July has been described variously as ‘memorable’, ‘fabulous’ and ‘wondrous’, with Isle of Man drama groups triumphing in a number of categories.

The Legion Players won the one-act play category, lifting the Irving trophy for their production of Playing with Daisy by Eleanor Fossey who travelled to the Island to watch their performance which also earned the company the Isle of Man Newspapers Award for Audience Appreciation.

In the youth section Onchan-based Stage One Drama School’s Chatroom by Enda Walsh won them the Gadoc Joyce Cook Memorial Award for Audience Appreciation and the Nan Nuttal Memorial Award for Encouragement of Youth Theatre, while the school’s Zac Phillips was singled for his performance to win the Buxton trophy for Most Promising Youth Participation.

The Manx Gateway drama group also enjoyed success, receiving the Star Bright Award for the Encouragement of Inclusive Theatre for A Tale of Two Manxmen, by local authors Anne Clarke and Elan Karran. Introduced for the first time this year the award was given by the NDFA in recognition of the association’s commitment to promoting all-inclusive theatre.

In the full-length play category White Cobra Productions from Northampton emerged not only overall winners for Days of Wine and Roses by Owen McCafferty but also won awards for audience participation, backstage and the adjudicator’s award. (The play also enjoyed success at the Manx Amateur Drama Federation’s Easter Festival of Plays).

Michael Lees, Manx Amateur Drama Federation (MADF) coordinator for the festival and Island of Culture events director said: ‘The festival was a great success with outstanding theatre, very high marks and wonderful weather. And of course, as host nation, it was especially rewarding for the Isle of Man to see three of its own companies recognised, so congratulations to The Legion Players, Stage One Productions and the Manx Gateway drama group for “flying the Manx flag” so magnificently.

‘More than 250 people from across the UK came to the Island for the festival and the feedback I’ve received has been unfailingly positive, with everyone saying how much they would like to return and spend more time here on holiday.’

Festival adjudicator was Jan Palmer Sayer of GoDA (Guild of Drama Adjudicators). ‘It was a wondrous week with so much to appreciate.  It is one thing to hold an All-Winners festival anywhere, but quite another to hope that all plays will be as good as they were in the qualifying rounds.  Performing in a brand new space is the challenge of festivals everywhere, and it is marvellous when all the teams rise to it so completely as they did.

‘Michael Lees and the whole of MADF are to be congratulated on hosting a memorable and fabulous occasion…and in such a setting. It was a terrific week.’

Mr Lees continued: ‘Bringing the festival together has been a huge undertaking and I am enormously grateful to everyone who contributed to the success of an event that has done much to raise the Island’s profile across the British Isles. I should like to extend special thanks to the Isle of Man Arts Council; to Jan Palmer Sayer for her valuable contribution as professional adjudicator; to the Gaiety Theatre teams backstage and front of house for their tireless hard work; to the Empress Hotel for serving as our Green Room; and to our financial partners, not least the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, for their continued support.

‘Without doubt the festival has been a joyous celebration of some of the finest amateur drama in the British Isles and has showcased the Isle of Man magnificently.’

The awards:

Star Bright Award for the Encouragement of Inclusive Theatre

Manx Gateway Drama Group A Tale of Two Manxmen

George Taylor Memorial Award


Youth Section

Gadoc Joyce Cook Memorial Award – Audience Appreciation

Stage One Drama School Chatroom

Buxton Trophy for the Most Promising Youth Participation


Elizabeth Bell and Shannon Richards of Brooklands College Footfalls

Ewan Reynolds of SWATS It’s Not You, It’s Me


Zac Phillips of Stage One Drama School Chatroom

Nan Nuttall Memorial Award for the Encouragement of Youth Theatre

Stage One Drama School

NDFA Trophy and £500 for the Winning Youth Production

Brooklands College Footfalls


Full-length plays


Halifax Evening Courier Award for Audience Appreciation

White Cobra Productions Days of Wine and Roses

Sydney Fisher Award for Backstage

White Cobra Productions Days of Wine and Roses

Felixstowe Festival Trophy – Adjudicator’s Award


Wakefield Little Theatre’s An Inspector Calls for the quality and impact of its stage presentation

Paul Haley of Wakefield Little Theatre for a superb performance as Arthur Birling

Richard Jordan of White Cobra Productions for a tremendously accomplished performance as Donal


White Cobra Productions Days of Wine and Roses for its object lesson in scene transitions

Amateur Stage Trophy for the Runners-Up

Wakefield Little Theatre  An Inspector Calls

Mary Blakeman Trophy and £500 for the Winning Play

White Cobra Productions  Days of Wine and Roses


One-act plays


Isle of Man Newspapers Award for Audience Appreciation

The Legion Players Playing With Daisy

Sydney Fisher Award for Backstage

Semi Circle, Basel The Extraordinary Revelations of Orca the Goldfish

Amateur Theatre Trophy – Adjudicator’s Award


Laura Jane Hickerton as a very funny Fornia in Woodhouse Players’ Hamlet Part II

Tim Guest’s hilarious duo, Stephen and Barney in Caramba Theatre Company’s Chinamen

Olivia Black and Stephanie Gray: two fabulous performances in Legion Players’ Playing with Daisy

Graham Collier’s mercurial Fred in Runnymede Drama Group’s Riverside Drive


David Cox’s wonderful collection of characters in Semi Circle, Basel’s The Extraordinary Revelations of Orca the Goldfish

NDFA Council Trophy for the Runners-Up

Runnymede Drama Group Riverside Drive

Irving Trophy and £500 for the Winning Play

Legion Players Playing with Daisy

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