The Clarence Players

Recent Productions

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Summer Production 2017

Poster

A devastating revelation leads to a series of hilarious situations as best friends, Pete and George, try to find a way out of their desperate plight without upsetting either of Pete's wives or his second wife's powerful mother.

 

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2017 Festival Production

Our festival production was Marina Carr's The Mai, directed by guest director Carole Stewart.

It had its first outing at the Belvoir Players' Studio Theatre on Friday and Saturday 24th & 25th of February.

Subsequently it was seen at the following festivals: Ballymoney (Tuesday7th March), Larne (Thursday 9th March), Portadown (Friday 10th March), Newtownabbey (Tuesday 14th March), Bangor (Wednesday 22nd March) and Newry (Friday 24th March).

An accomplished, beautiful forty-year-old woman, The Mai has always sought an exceptional life. Robert, her cellist husband, has always felt stifled by The Mai's ideals of perfection. After seventeen years he leaves her, whereupon she sets about building a dream house in the hope that he will one day return to her.

Ballymoney Festival

Overall we came second and director Carole Stewart took the Vin Smith Memorial Trophy for Best Director and cast members Heidi McKee and Shaunagh McKirgan received the Dalriada Cup for Best Actress and the Tom Dale Trophy for Best Supporting Actress respectively. Dorothy Wiley who was shortlisted for Best Actress received a certificate.

Larne Festival

Carole Stewart won her second award for direction, the Major Williamson Memorial Trophy, while the Elizabethan Coronation Trophy for Best Actress went to Dorothy Wiley and the Frank Davidson Trophy for Best Supporting Actor was awarded to Roger Jennings. The company also took the Alex Tyrrell Memorial Trophy for stage lighting and the Jaques Trophy for the Best Moment of Theatre. Oh, and we were second, again!

Newtownabbey Festival

The company took the Festival Trophy as overall winners and director Carole Stewart came away with the Best Producer's award. We also lifted two presentation awards — the Chimney Corner Trophy for Best Set Design and the Newtownabbey Advertiser Technical Merit Trophy.

There were also a number of nominations — Best Actress (Jackie Wilson), Best Actor (Roger Jennings), Best Supporting Actress (Dorothy Wiley) and Rowell Friers Certficate for Best Decor (Alan Marshall).

Bangor Festival

Another first and another Best Director award for Carole Stewart. Heidi McKee and Shaunagh McKirgan received the awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. Jackie Wilson, Dorothy Wiley and Roger Jennings were nominated for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Actor respectively.

Newry Festival

Congratulations to Shaunagh McKirgan on her Best Supporting Actress award and to Dorothy Wiley and Roger Jennings on their Best Actress and Best Actor nominations.

RTE

We qualified for the RTE All Ireland Drama Festival in the Deane Crowe Theatre, Athlone (Thursday 4 - Friday 12 May) and appeared on Friday 5 May.

http://dramafestival.ie/index.php/finalists/

AUDF

We also qualified for the Ulster Drama Festival in The Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey (Monday 15 - Saturday 20 May) and took to the stage on Tuesday 16 May.

http://www.portadownfestival.org.uk/index.php/ulster-drama-festival

Ulster Winners

Ulster Drama Festival

The Clarence Players are now proud holders of the Premier Challenge Cup, having taken top honours at the Ulster Drama Festival. Director Carole Stewart lifted the Belfast Newsletter Cup as Best Director, Jackie Wilson took the UTV Hubert Wilmot Award as Best Actress for her portrayal of The Mai and Alan Marshall received the Friers Award for Best Decor. Heidi McKee (Millie), Dorothy Wiley (Grandma Fraochlan) and Shaunagh McKirgan (Julie) were nominated for the Richard Cochrane Award for Best Supporting Actress. Congratulations to everyone involved with the production.

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One Act Production

Our One Act Festival production was Anton Chekov's The Festivities, directed by Frances Hastie.

It took to the boards at the following festivals: Bangor (The Space, SERC, Thursday 27 October); Belfast (Belvoir Players' Studio, Thursday 3 November) and Newtownabbey (Courtyard Theatre, Saturday 5 November).

This comedy tells of  the fifteenth anniversary of the opening of a bank where the celebration soon turns to chaos.

Bangor Drama Festival

The company took the Abbey Press Cup for the Overall Winner and also the Tyrell Cup for Best Director (Frances Hastie) and the John A Lorimer Cup for Best Actor (Stephen Connolly). Tori Thompson was nominated for Best Actress.

Belfast Drama Festival

As well as taking second place overall we were awarded the Comedy Cup and Roger Jennings came out on top as Best Supporting Actor.

Newtownabbey Drama Festival

Director Frances Hastie took the Best Producer's award and Stephen Connolly was nominated for Best Actor.

Northern Ireland One Act Final

The Festivities took to the boards once again for the Northern Ireland One Act Final on Saturday 28 January 2017, in the Belvoir Players' Studio Theatre.

Congratulations to Dorothy Wiley and Roger Jennings on winning the Comedy Award at the One Act Finals.

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Summer Theatre Production

This year's summer production was Beside The Seaside by Leslie Sands and was performed at:

Portrush Town Hall (Wednesday 3 to Saturday 6 August), Courtyard Theatre, Ballyearl (Saturday 20th August) and The Riverside Theatre, Coleraine (Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd September).

 

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Brighton by Jim Nolan

Our 2016 full length festival production was Jim Nolan's Brighton, directed by Frances Hastie.

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It was performed at the Belvoir Players' Studio from Thursday 25 — Saturday 27 February and subseqently at the following festivals:

Ballymoney Festival on Thursday 3 March

City of Derry Festival on Wednesday 9 March

Larne Festival on Saturday 12 March

Portadown Festival on Monday 14 March

Newtownabbey Festival on Thursday 17 March

Bangor and Ards Festival on Monday 21 March, 2016.

Brighton celebrates friendship, hope and the resilience of the human spirit and centres on the characters of Lily, an elderly Irish woman and Fulham supporter who has spent all her working life in England working in the Civil Service, and former actor Jack Dunhill, just turned sixty, who has recently suffered an accident paralysing him from the waist down. The pair meet in the Sisters of Calvary Nursing Home in which Dave, a young care assistant, works.

Ballymoney Festival

As well as taking second place at Ballymoney we won the Lord Antrim Cup for Best Comedy and Dorothy Wiley lifted the Dalriada Cup for Best Actress. There were certificates for acting (Des Loughridge) and lighting.

City of Derry Festival

Congratulations to Dorothy Wiley on her Best Actress award.

Larne Festival

Dorothy Wiley and Des Loughridge were nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor awards.

Newtownabbey Festival

Congratulations to Alan Marshall on his Adjudicator's Award for his set designs for four of the companies in the festival.

Dorothy Wiley, Des Loughridge and Carl Borrett were nominated for Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. There was also a nomination for Best Moment of Theatre.

Bangor and Ards Festival

Congratulations to Dorothy Wiley on her third Best Actress Award. There were also nominations for Des Loughridge, Best Costume and Best Moment of Theatre.

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One Act Production

In The Blinking Of An Eye by Jeremy Hylton Davies

Our 2015 one act festival production J H Davies' In The Blinking Of An Eye (directed by Des Loughridge) featured at Newtownabbey and Bangor festivals on Friday 6 and Friday 13 November respectively.

Joyce and Madge share a picnic and reminisce about their younger years. Their lives are linked by their love for the same man.

Congratulations to Nicky Allister (Joyce) for winning the Adjudicator's Award at Newtownabbey Festival and to Jackie Wilson (Madge) on her Best Actress nomination at Bangor Festival.

We tied with Theatre 3, Newtownabbey for the third play in the Northern Ireland One Act Finals.

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CS Lewis Festival — The Inklings by Roger Courtney

The Inklings, specially written by Roger Courtney for the CS Lewis Festival, eavesdrops on the meetings of CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein and others in the back room of the Eagle & Child public house in Oxford.

It was staged in the Belvoir Players' Studio Theatre on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 November.

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Murdered To Death by Peter Gordon

Our summer production, directed by Drew McConnell, was Peter Gordon's Murdered To Death. It was well received at Portrush Summer Theatre (Wednesday 5 — Saturday 8 August) and at the Courtyard Theatre Summer Season, Newtownabbey (Friday 11 — Saturday 12 September) playing to capacity houses at both venues.

This hilarious spoof of the best Agatha Christie traditions, with an assembled cast of characters guaranteed to delight: including Bunting the butler, an English Colonel with the prerequisite stiff upper lip, a shady French art dealer and his moll, a bumbling local inspector and a well meaning local sleuth who seems to attract murder - they’re all here, and all caught up in the side-splitting antics which follow the mysterious death of the owner of a country manor house. But will the murderer be unmasked before everyone else has met their doom, or will audiences die laughing first?

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Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen

Our 2015 festival production was Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, directed by Des Loughridge.

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Ballymoney Festival

The Clarence Players took second place overall at Ballymoney Drama Festival. They also came away with the awards for Best Actress (Andrea Brown as Hedda Gabler), Best Supporting Actor and Actress (Stephen Connolly as Judge Brack and Avril Robb as Thea Elvsted) and the Friers Trophy for Decor (Alan Marshall) and received nominations for Best Director (Des Loughridge) and Best Actor (RogerJennings as George Tessman).

Larne Festival

As well as taking third place at Larne Drama Festival The Clarence Players also took the Eva Harrison Memorial Trophy for Costume.

Portadown Festival

Roger Jennings (as George Tessman) took the Best Actor Award at Portadown Festival.

Newtownabbey Festival

As well as taking third place at Newtownabbey Drama Festival, Frances Hastie (as Juliana Tessman) took the Best Supporting Actress award and Alan Marshall gained his second Friers Trophy for Decor. Members of the company were also nominated for Best Director (Des Loughridge), Best Supporting Actor (Stephen Connolly) and Best Moment of Theatre (Roger Jennings).

Ulster Drama Festival

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Congratulations to The Clarence Players on reaching the AUDF Finals in the Theatre at The Mill, Newtownabbey. They opened the Festival on Monday 18 May at 7.45pm with their production of Hedda Gabler. See below for the full line-up:

Monday 18 May Hedda Gabler — The Clarence Players

Tuesday 19 May Metamorphosis — Newpoint Players

Wednesday 20 May A Month In The Country — Holywood Players

Thursday 21 Woman and Scarecrow — Rasper Players

Friday 22 The Drawer Boy — Estuary Players

Saturday 23  God of Carnage — Ballyshannon Drama Society

http://www.theatreatthemill.com

Congratulations to Frances Hastie on gaining the Best Supporting Actress award at the Ulster Drama Festival for her role as Juliana Tessman.

Congratulations also to Andrea Brown, Roger Jennings and Stephen Connolly for their nominations as Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively.

 

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Play On! by Rick Abbot

Our 2014 festival production was Rick Abbot's Play On!, directed by Des Loughridge. For performance dates, see poster below.

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Congratulations to Director Des Loughridge on his Certificate of Merit from Newtownabbey Festival and to Stage Manager Dave Rowan for picking up the Stage Management Award at Portadown Festival.

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Play On! by Rick Abbot

Portrush Town Hall Summer Theatre — Wednesday 6 to Saturday 9 August, and

Courtyard Theatre, Newtownabbey — Friday 5 and Saturday 6 September, 2014.

This is the hilarious story of a theatre group trying desperately to put on a play inspite of maddening interference from a haughty authoress who keeps revisiting the script. Act 1 is a rehearsal of the dreadful show, Act 2 the near disastrous dress rehearsal, and the final act is the actual performance in which anything that can go wrong does.

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One Act Production

The Pushcart Peddlers by Murray Schisgal

Northern Ireland One Act Finals

Our production of The Pushcart Peddlers took the Premier Award at the Northern Ireland One Act Finals on Saturday 25 January. As overall winners The Clarence Players go on to represent Northern Ireland at the British Finals to be held in Stirling, Scotland on 27 and 28 June, 2014 (www.SCDA.org.uk).

In addition to the Premier Award we also lifted the awards for Best Director (Des Loughridge), Best Actor (won jointly by Paul Cumming and David Humphreys) and The Best Moment of Comedy (Andrea Brown).

The greenhorn, Shimmell, fresh from the old country, meets the older, wiser Cornelius, and is inveigled into buying his pushcart business. Complications arise when Cornelius returns with another pushcart and proceeds to compete with Shimmell at the same location. Shimmell is smitten by Maggie, a flower seller who aspires to become a musical comedy star. Learning quickly to adapt, Shimmell decides to become a theatrical producer – with hilarioius, albeit satisfying results.

The Pushcart Peddlers played at Newtownabbey, Derry, Castlereagh and Belfast festivals on the 8th, 21st, 22nd and 30th November.

Newtownabbey Festival

The Clarence Players took third place overall at Newtownabbey. Andrea Brown, as Maggie, also received the Adjudicator's Award, while director Des Loughridge and David Humphreys as Shimmel both received nominations for Best Director and Best Actor.

Derry Festival

We achieved third place in Derry and Andrea Brown also received the Adjudicator's Award.

Castlereagh Festival

In Castlereagh we were second overall. We also took awards for Best Director (Des Loughridge), Best Actress (Andrea Brown), Best Supporting Actor (David Humphreys), with Certificates for Alan Marshall (Set) and Nicky Scott (Props). Paul Cumming also received a nomination for Best Actor.

Belfast Festival

The Clarence Players took first place at Belfast festival as well as awards for Des Loughridge (Best Director), Paul Cumming (Best Actor), David Humphreys (Best Supporting Actor) and Andrea Brown (Best Moment of Comedy).

 

CS Lewis Festival — Shadowlands by William Nicholson

As part of Belfast's CS Lewis Festival we performed a rehearsed reading (at Campbell College, on Saturday 23rd November, 2013) of William Nicholson's play Shadowlands, about the love-relationship between Oxford academic C. S. Lewis and American poet Joy Davidman, her tragic death from cancer, and how this challenged Lewis' Christian faith.

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Summer Theatre

A Bride In The Hand by Angela Lanyon

Our Summer Theatre production (directed by Frances Hastie) took to the boards of Portrush Summer Theatre from Wednesday 7 to Saturday 10 August and the Courtyard Theatre, Newtownabbey on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 September 2013.

Vickie is desperate to get her mother safely married but between her over eager boyfriend, a collapsible ironing board, an erotic screen and
a mix up over the best man — not to mention an electrician who blows all the fuses — time is running out for them to get to the church. Well
meant help by the bride's new-age friend adds further confusion and the discovery of a former lover brings matters to a head. But an unexpected
development resolves the confusion and all is set for a happy ending. A fast moving, very funny farce in the classic style of the genre.

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     Roger Jennings                 John Ferguson                  Stephen Duvant                  TC Smyth                          Andrea Brown                    Frances Hastie

Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood

Our 2013 festival production was Ronald Harwood's Taking Sides, directed by Des Loughridge.

Taking Sides is a 1995 play about the post-war U.S. denazification investigation of the German conductor and composer Wilhelm Furtwangler on charges of having served the Nazi regime. The play is based on a detailed diary kept by Furtwangler of his interrogation sessions.

After playing at Belvoir Players' Studio Theatre in February the company competed at Ballymoney, Portadown, Larne and Newry Drama Festivals in March.

Taking Sides Took First Place at Ballymoney and Larne Drama Festivals

As well as taking first place at Ballymoney the production also took the awards for Best Director (Des Loughridge), Best Actor (Roger Jennings), Best Supporting Actress (Andrea Brown) and Decor (Alan Marshall). Two other members were shortlisted for Best Supporting awards (Frances Hastie and TC Smyth). Another member (Dorothy Wiley), guesting with Theatre 3, Newtownabbey, took the award for Best Actress. (Dorothy also took the Best Actress award at Larne and Newtownabbey festivals.)

In addition to taking the Premier Award at Larne the team also took the following awards: Best Actor (Stephen Duvant), Best Supporting Actress (Andrea Brown), Best Director, Best Decor, Best Lighting (Drew McConnell, Rosamund Monteith, Paul Parkhill) and the Audience Award.

Portadown and Newry Festivals

At Portadown Festival the company came fourth overall and took the Audience and Best Straight Play awards. Roger and Andrea were nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress and in Newry Alan was nominated for the Decor Award.

Taking Sides competed in the Ulster Drama Festival on Saturday 18 May in The Theatre At The Mill, Newtownabbey.

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The Donahue Sisters by Geraldine Aron

Our One Act offering this year was The Donahue Sisters by Geraldine Aron. It played at the following festivals: Newtownabbey, Bangor and Ards, Castlereagh and Belfast.

Three sisters find themselves in their old attic playroom. What appears to be a simple meander through their memories of childhood is turned on its head as the sisters re-enact a terrible shared secret of their childhood.

Off The Hook by Derek Benfield

Our Summer Theatre production this year was Derek Benfield's farce Off The Hook. It played in the Portrush Townhall Theatre and at The Courtyard Theatre, Newtownabbey.

Fred Baxter and Charlie Mullins, a pair of dubious villains, break Harold Spook out of prison to retrieve a bag containing stolen money which has been hidden in the Hook House hotel under the noses of the proprietor, the retired Major Catchpole, his wife and her sister. There's just one snag, who would have known there would be two Harold Spooks in the same prison and a Justice of the Peace, Mrs Fletcher-Brewer, staying at the Hook House hotel?

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The Droitwich Discovery by Nick Warburton

Des Loughridge's production of Nick Warburton's The Droitwich Discovery, our 2011/12 one act offering, has been a great success, winning Castlereagh and Belfast festivals as well as individual awards for director Des Loughridge (Best Director, both festivals) and cast members Andrea Brown (Supporting Actress, Castlereagh) and Dorothy Wiley (Best Moment of Comedy, Belfast). The whole cast as well as the backstage team (responsible for set, props, costume, sound and lights) have also drawn high praise.

The production moved on to the AUDF One Act Finals in the Alley Theatre, Strabane on the 28 January 2012; adjudicator Scott Marshall GODA.

British Finals

As a result of winning the AUDF Finals in Strabane we represented Northern Ireland in the British Finals in Milford Haven on Friday 6 July, when we were up against the winning plays from Scotland, England and Wales. At the AUDF Finals we also took the awards for Best Director (Des Loughridge), Best Actress (Jackie Wilson) and Best Moment of Comedy

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Weekend Breaks by John Godber

Our full-length festival production — Weekend Breaks by John Godber (Directed by Frances Hastie) — has just completed its festival run as follows: Saturday 10 March (Ballymoney), Friday 16 March (Newtownabbey), Saturday 17 March (Portadown), Monday 19 March (Larne) and Monday 26 March, 2012 (Newry).

Although we didn't make it through to the AUDF Finals (14 - 19 May, Theatre At The Mill, Newtownabbey) all cast members were nominated for acting awards.

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Fish Out of Water by Derek Benfield

Our 2011 summer production, directed by Laura Kennedy, was Derek Benfield's Fish Out of Water (the revised edition!).

It was performed at Portrush Summer Theatre from 10 to 13 August and at The Courtyard Theatre, Ballyearl on 9 and 10 September .

Fish Out of Water was a comedy set in an Italian hotel. It involved a delightfully mismatched group of characters who were trying to resolve problems caused by an incompetent holiday rep and an over-amorous hotel manager

Entertaining Angels

Frances Hastie's full-length festival play had a successful run-out in Belvoir's Studio Theatre before taking to the boards at the following festivals — Ballymoney (9 March), Enniskillen (12 March), Newtownabbey (14 March), Ards and Bangor (16 March), Portadown (17 March), Larne (23 March) and Newry (31 March, 2011). Although the production didn't make it through to this year's AUDF Finals it picked up several awards along the way:

Interpretation of a Straight Play and Best Moment of Theatre awards for director Frances Hastie (Portadown and Newtownabbey)

Supporting Actress and Actor awards for Dorothy Wylie and Des Loughridge (Enniskillen and Ballymoney)

Acting Certificate for Laura Kennedy (Ballymoney)

Set awards for Alan Marshall (Ballymoney and Bangor & Ards)