Monday 19 July 1999


Waterford Youth Drama Joined by Distinguished Guests
and Stars of Stage and Screen at Royal National Theatre

Waterford Youth Drama’s celebrated production THE PILGRIMAGE took to the boards last week at the prestigious Olivier Theatre at the Royal National Theatre on the banks of the river Thames. The Waterford production sold out to a capacity audience of 1160 people. Joined by a host of distinguished guests including His Excellency Ted Barrington, Irish Ambassador to Britain, and Minister of State at the Department of Finance Martin Cullen T.D., the cast of sixteen young actors took to the stage to the sound of rapturous welcoming applause.

THE PILGRIMAGE, directed by Dublin-based actress and director Deirdre Molloy, was selected for the Olivier Theatre following assessment of over 150 prominent companies from right across the U.K. and Ireland. Only the very best productions of ten new plays for young actors were selected to showcase at the NT Cottesloe and Olivier Theatres, on the invitation of the Royal National Theatre in association with British Telecom. Waterford Youth Drama was the only company selected from the Republic of Ireland.

Hosted by television show host Graham Norton and introduced by Genista McIntosh, Executive Director of the Royal National Theatre, Waterford Youth Drama’s production held the capacity audience spellbound until the final curtain when the sixteen young actors took a bow to a round of rapturous cheering and applause. 'It's an evening to be proud to be Irish,' commented Irish Ambassador Ted Barrington, following the performance. 'It's the best experience of my life and a proud moment for Waterford Youth Drama,' echoed cast member Michael O'Brien, Kilcohan.

A special presentation was made to Waterford Youth Drama acknowledging their coveted selection for the Royal National Theatre before an audience that included stars of stage and screen, such as actresses Olympia Dukakis and Diana Rigg.

16-year-old stage manager Ann Marie O'Sullivan and cast member Ana Rosa De Eizaguirre accepted the award on behalf of the company and reciprocated the presentation with Waterford Crystal pieces for their showcase host Graham Norton and writer of THE PILGRIMAGE Paul Goetzee. 'It was a magical evening for anyone from Waterford,' commented Minister of State Martin Cullen T.D., in attendance with the Irish Ambassador. 'The production adapted very well for the Olivier stage,' reflected Trevor Nunn, Director of the Royal National Theatre.

Waterford Youth Drama’s performance at the Olivier Theatre closed a six-day international celebration of youth theatre at the Royal National Theatre. In association with British Telecom, the National Theatre commissioned the cream of new writing talent to write hour-long plays for young actors under the project title BT National Connections. The portfolio of writers this year included Alan Ayckbourn, Dario Fo and Christina Reid to name but a few.

Waterford Youth Drama got the news in May last that the company had been selected for the National Theatre. 'I couldn’t believe it, I was screaming!' reported cast member Sarah Blanc, Kilcohan. The company then set about fund raising for the event, costs of which were expected to exceed £7000. THE PILGRIMAGE was revived for two nights of performance at Garter Lane Arts Centre to raise funds towards the London venture. Tony award winning Waterford actress Anna Manahan was delighted to support Waterford Youth Drama’s fund raising efforts, attending the Gala Fund Raiser performance as Waterford Youth Drama’s guest of honour. Together with significant grant aid from The British Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Waterford Youth Drama embarked with confidence upon their debut in London. 'Waterford Youth Drama is indebted to the Department of Foreign Affairs and to The British Council for making this great opportunity a reality for seventeen young Waterford people' reported Cathy Hanrahan, Administrator, WYD.

His Worship Mayor Pat Hayes has announced he will host a Civic Reception for cast members Michael O'Brien, Sarah Blanc, Marc Costine, Nicola Power, Simon Connolly, Eli Egan, Diarmuid Early, Ronan Joy, Deirdre Dwyer, Michael Early, Sarah Fallon, Patricia Murphy, Shauna Farrell, Ana Rosa de Eizaguirre, Kelly Logue, Jennie McGuire and stage manager Ann Marie O'Sullivan, who were special ambassadors for Waterford City on Tuesday night last 13th July in London.


Contact : Cathy Hanrahan