Festival committee prepares to mark 70th anniversary

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Members of Larne Drama Festival committee were welcomed to the Mayor’s Parlour by outgoing mayor, Councillor Gerardine Mulvenna.

The visit was organised in recognition of the work of all the volunteers in promoting and sustaining this popular major event in the borough’s arts calendar.

Next year will be a special year in the festival’s history - the 70th anniversary.

The first festival was held in the Victoria Hall in 1934 but suspended for a time before and after World War II.

The festival has hosted many noteworthy amateur actors and actresses and almost 1,000 one-act and full-length plays.

The most famous actor to perform locally was Liam Neeson who won the Best Actor Award for his part in “Philadelphia Here I Come” presented by the Slemish Players.

The festival has been held in a number of venues down through the years, including Victoria Hall, Gardenmore Hall, the Auditorium and McNeill Theatre and once in Larne Grammar School.

It will continue its run in the McNeill Theatre at Larne Leisure Centre, next year, from March 10 until March 14.

Among the adjudicators at the festival over the years were Larne-born Harry Town who officiated in 1959 and Gerda Redlich who escaped war-torn Austria with a circus.

She was said to have the remarkable skill of being able to do the splits at the age of 70.