Another opening another show or shows?

Well the Manx Amateur Drama Federation (MADF) has started preparations for their festivals in 2024 and 2025!

The invitations to teams from the Island, British Isles and Ireland have gone out. Our first competition will be the The Young Actor of Mann (now biennial). This will be Saturday 30th March at Ballakermeen Studio, further information can be found on the event page. Entrants must be Isle of Man residents. Closing date for entries Saturday 13th Jan 2024.

The Easter Festival (which now incorporates the One Act and Full Length Play Festivals) has teams coming from the Island and British Isles. It commences on Saturday 30th March, running for 7 days from 7.30pm each evening at the Gaiety Theatre and runs until Friday 5th April. The deadline for entries is 1st December 2023. The Empress Hotel will be MADF Headquarters and green room each evening.

We’re pleased to announce the adjudicator for all events will be Chris Baglin GoDA (Guild of Drama Adjudicators). Chris is well known to audiences on the island having previously adjudicated the One Act Play Festival.

Social events will include a Coffee morning on Friday 1st March at Peel Centenary Centre, more details from the Friends of MADF later. The traditional Easter Monday lunch will be Monday 1st April at the Empress Hotel.

We are now eagerly awaiting the entries for all our festivals and will announce the entrants in January 2024.

Some advance news for our 2025 Easter festival which will be our 75th Anniversary is the ever popular Robert Meadows GoDA has accepted our invitation and the Gaiety Theatre has been booked from Saturday 19th April  through to Friday 25th.  We are in the process of planning our special anniversary year and more details  will be released in the New Year.

We are very grateful to the IOM Arts Council for their continued support and would welcome other sponsors for any of our events. If you know of any who might be interested please let me know at

Michael J Lees MADF President and PR Officer

Easter Festival 2023 Preview

A full week of plays staged by theatre groups from the island and across the UK are set to perform in two newly merged festivals.

Booking has opened for the Manx Amateur Drama Federation’s (MADF) Easter Festival of Full Length and One Act Plays, which takes place at the Gaiety Theatre from April 8 to 14.

MADF president Michael Lees told Island Life: ‘It will be two festivals in one although they will be adjudicated separately giving winners for one act and full length.

‘The plays will be mixed throughout the week so an audience will have the opportunity to see a night of one acts followed by a full length play the following evening.’

The opening performance, on Easter Saturday (April 8) will be Service Players’ production of the one-act drama Lovers by Tony Rushforth, a previous adjudicator. It’s set at a graveside, with three characters all speaking to the deceased as if he is still here.

They will be followed by a one act youth entry, Broadway Youth Theatre’s production of Sweep Under The Rug by island writer Lindsay Price.

The play envisions a future where struggling families are placed in the Bobby Sue program, a computerised guardian of sorts.

Shopshire group Wellington Theatre Company return to the island to present the full length play Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett on Easter Sunday (April 9).

Michael said: ‘This play has been presented many times throughout the world to great acclaim.’

The two leading characters are tramps and explain the world as they see it while they wait for Godot.

They will be followed by another full length entry, by Northampton group White Cobra Productions on April 10 with The Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh.

It’s about two brothers living alone in their father’s house after his recent death.

April 11 will see two One Act  entries from the island.

First up will be Platform Theatre School’s production of black comedy Heritage by Dafydd James, which explores the darker side of nationalism.

And they will be followed by Parodos Theatre Company with horror/drama The Monkey’s Paw by William Wymark Jacobs, with a lesson about being careful what you wish for.

Three One Act plays will be staged on April 12.

Youth group Yn Draamey will present the drama Chiller by Christopher J. Maybury, set in a world of low budget horror films which take on an all too real aspect.

And then there will be two adult entries.

The Service Players will present The Photograph by Lisa M. Smith, about two sisters who find a mystery photo in their mother’s collection.

And then Rushen Players will perform Accident of Birth by Trevor Suthers.

This sees an inmate in Broadmoor confront his birth mother to discover the cause of his insanity.

Yn Draamey will be first on stage on April 13 with their youth one act entry Faces in The Dark by Christopher J. Maybury, about four children trapped in a purgatory.

They will be followed by Rushen Players with the adult one act entry comedy/drama September In The Rain by John Godber. It follows a married couple through their relationship.

Finally, Friday, April 14 will see London group Garden Suburb Theatre present a full length comedy, The Game’s Afoot; or Holmes for the Holidays by Ken Ludwig. It sees an actor take on the persona of his beloved Holmes to solve a death.

Each night, the plays will be adjudicated by Robert Meadows from the Guild of Drama Adjudicators.

He has been to the island on several occasions to judge the Young Actor of Mann and the One Act Festival of Plays.

‘He is always very popular with our audiences,’ said Michael.

Awards will be presented on the final night of the festival. Marks will be awarded for acting, production, stage presentation, and endeavour, originality and attainment.

Book tickets online at www.villa or call the box office on 600555.

An early bird season ticket offer with a £21 saving closes on Monday, February 27.





The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is supporting local charity, the Manx Amateur Drama Federation (MADF), with its 2022 Easter Festival of Full Length Plays.

The Easter Festival of Full Length Plays will see amateur dramatic groups from across the UK and the Isle of Man come together to perform six full-length plays at the Gaiety Theatre throughout the Easter week. The six groups will compete for the best play and performance of the week and will be judged by leading independent UK adjudicator, Jan Palmer Sayer. Audience members attending the full week’s performances are also entitled to cast a vote.

The Festival, which was first started in 1950, has welcomed hundreds of visiting groups from across Europe and the UK over its 72-year history, and looks to foster and celebrate amateur theatre. MADF, which was formed in the 1940’s, promotes live theatre and is open to all amateur drama, operatic, musical and play groups in the Isle of Man. The charity also provides acting, stage management and technical theatre training to its members.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet will be supporting the event by subsidising the travel expenses of those groups travelling from the UK to take part in the Festival.

Brian Thomson, Managing Director of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, said: ‘The Steam Packet Company is thrilled to support MADF with its Easter Festival of Full Length Plays. This is a wonderful opportunity for residents, and visitors alike, to watch some outstanding local and UK acting talent in the beautiful setting of the Gaiety Theatre. With a wide range of plays to watch, there is something for everyone. We are delighted to be supporting this iconic event, which celebrates local theatre and the art of storytelling.’

Michael Lees, President of the MADF, added: ‘MADF would like to thank the Isle of Man Steam Packet for its support in helping us to bring across the UK teams taking part in our Easter Festival of Full Length Plays. This Festival is a wonderful addition to an already diverse and exciting Isle of Man events calendar and attracts many visitors from the UK and beyond.

‘This is a great opportunity for the public to watch a variety of live theatre performances and plays spanning a huge range of genres, all within the space of a week – an opportunity that doesn’t come along too often. Several ticket options are available, including single performance and weekly season tickets.’

To find out more about MADF and its work, visit: To purchase tickets for The Easter Festival of Full Length Plays, taking place between the 17th and 22nd April, visit:

The Drama of Mann- A Word from our One Act Play Festival Adjudicator

The Drama of Mann

I cannot express how delighted I was to be approached to come to the island to adjudicate the One Act Festival and Young Actor of Mann. It was a new one to me, and I had not managed a visit to the island since sailing into Doolish harbour at midnight aboard our Sea Cadet Training Ship. We sailed out at about two the following afternoon, so my whole previous experience of the island was fourteen hours in Douglas, at least eight of which were spent asleep.

This time however more than made up for it. The whole of the community of the island has been so welcoming that one could easily be mistaken for an old friend returning to the island rather than a stranger. The welcome aside, the scenery and atmosphere of the island is magical, as many have remarked before, going back thousands of years. And the food! I am only too glad that the airlines don’t charge for that particular type of excess baggage one carries back around one’s waist!

As for the festivals themselves, what a treat to be able to observe and adjudicate them. The One Act Festival brought laughter and tears, often in the same production. I saw performers who ranged from fifteen to eighty-five and all stops in-between, and each and every one of them had something unique and valuable to contribute. The styles ranged from the stylised to naturalistic and touched on themes from an unexpected change late in life to Faustian pacts with the cult of celebrity and even a Roald Dahl-esque twist in the tail.

Then there was the Young Actor of Mann. All anyone will tell you about this competition is that it is a nigh on impossible job to judge as all the young actors are so talented, and they certainly wouldn’t like to do it.  As adjudicators we hear this often, but never before have I seen it so justified as here.  It is inspiring to see these young actors and actresses willing to get up and present themselves for their talent to be judged. In Wales we have the Eisteddfod culture, we encourage all our young people to get up and compete in these competitions of singing, recitation etc. It makes the experience normal. But I know only too well it doesn’t make it any easier. So to see these youngsters willing to step outside their comfort zone and do it without that cultural norm, well… I feel the dramatic future of the island will be in safe hands. And I can confirm that it is a nigh on impossible job as all the young actors are so talented and cannot wait to do it again!

Gura mie eu

Chris Baglin


Day One (Geordie accent) of the 2018 One Act Play Festival. And it opened well.

First up was Hog the Limelight’s production of Jilted Lovers Helpline by John Grim.  I’d like to congratulate Mary and Jasmine (Christine Edge and Tracey Jones) for putting me off helplines for life.  Though I did learn some rather original ways to deal with an errant spouse.  I was also amazed that the ladies were so unflappable, despite the emotional (and sometimes physical) carnage going on at the other end of the phone. If you can calmly eat a hobnob and listen to Grandma smacking her lipstick (but not for grandad), then you’re a stronger person than I’ll ever be.  The play went at a cracking pace and had some wonderfully dry lines.  The setting was the perfect office, swivel chairs, lots of laughter and Captain Hook using his prosthesis as a dough hook – an image that would never normally cross my mind.  It’s definitely part of the NHS Family care & Planning service, that the right hon Jeremy Hunt must never touch.

Heart in the Ground by Douglas Hill was the second play this evening entered by Rushen Players.  Sensitive lighting, effective costumes and evocative Irish music opened this piece, which was performed by Mollie Workman and Michael Williams.   It’s the story of Karen and Lee who are poor farmers from Derry. Somewhere in their very recent past, they lost their three-week-old Catherine to cot death.  Their lives are shredded by the loss, but also by the law that says their daughter must be buried on church land amongst stone and strangers, and not on their farm forever in their care.  The shadow of Karen’s brother looms but despite the vicious arguments and the subsequent revelations, Karen learns her strengths and Lee recognises the need to be kind.  The final scene with the tiny coffin was a tribute to the cast and technical team.  Their commitment to the subject and the understanding of the piece made it a pleasure, albeit a difficult, one to watch.

In contrast we finished the evening with CCTV by Derek Webb performed by the Service Players.  Alex, Jane and Richie (Freddie Hall, Kimberley Quine and Mark Tyley) are the frontline defence at the Oaks Shopping Centre (and I blame austerity).  In the event of a retail related catastrophe, (in this instance he was called Keith) attached to a child’s cap gun, they are what stand in the way of the Swat team that might have saved our lives.  This crack team made up of Sudoku Alex who struggles with a tie and has a spiritual link to Sid James, Richie who’s microphone voice really should clear every sensible person to a safe distance, and Jane who can’t leave her shopping even when she’s breaking up a fight.  It was just any old typical day, until Nigel Thijs as unskilled bank robber Keith, lost his ‘fick’ team of cohorts to one of the best Front of House announcements I’ve ever heard.  Between them they delivered some great one liners, and looked like they were enjoying every minute.  It was a lively and entertaining production, and a great finish to the night.

  • Helen Clarke

Fiona Helleur on the opportunity the One Act Play Festival gives young performers from the Youth Arts Centre

The MADF One Act Play Festival (OAPF) has been one of the highlights of our year for the past twenty plus years and it has always been a really enjoyable experience for our participating members. The Youth Arts Centre (YAC) is a place for young people to come and try everything without fear of failure and we encourage everyone between the ages of 8 – 19 to come along and join us in what we do, be it drama, musical theatre, music, arts, dance or whatever. Our inclusion in the OAPF has always been the bait to tempt young people who may never before have performed before an audience, let alone received critique for that performance. To take a deep breath, gird their loins, learn their lines and put themselves out there unadorned and open before their peers and also before an audience who has no interest in patronage, only in what is delivered.

Young people do not come to the YAC for glory and are not following an arts based syllabus or doing it for exams; they do it because they love the performing arts; they use their own time to find a play that appeals to them, learn to produce and direct, coax the best performances. They are usually a disparate group of young people who come ‘for a laugh’ and to be ‘with their mates’ then suddenly find themselves on stage, in front of that audience – and being judged. It’s quite a wake up call and for most of them, it could be the first time in their lives they get applause and receive positive comments about something they chose to do of their own volition and in their own free time.

Over the years we have presented musicals, Shakespeare, self penned and devised plays as well as published plays about confused identity, the death of a friend, forbidden love and AIDS. We have done comedies about a teenage night out and being a disgruntled superhero, as well as serious issue plays about being the only gay in town or transgender. We don’t shy away from matters that affect young people and in the process we hope to create some excellent theatre that will please the audience as well as the judges. We have had our times when a cast is so nervous they forget everything the second they walk on stage, when we have left costumes and scenery behind in error and the one where not only did the leading lady forget to turn up and had to be replaced by a script reading peer, but also a fellow cast member had to have insulin administered backstage. A night to remember.

Drama is now the only subject where young people have to learn by rote and repeat on demand before a critical audience. The pressure for these young people to succeed is immense but succeed they do thanks to the Festival that can see past the nerves and the braying bravado of a stroppy teenager to see the potential of every cast member who trembles his way through his lines, faltering then hopefully, suddenly and bravely finding their voice, a voice that will never leave them because they did it and did it well.

We have so many wonderful memories of the Oct Act Play Festival, the encouragement of the adult actors, the closeness of the cast when they realise that this is it – they are on stage and everyone is watching. The YAC can boast of its former members who made their debut at the One Act Festival of Plays who are now professional producers, directors, musicians, actors, singers and dancers who are appearing in films, on television and on stages all over the world. The backstage crew of sound and lighting engineers, stage managers, set designers and artists, and even a few barristers who learnt to speak up and out with us. These are people who are all making a living doing something they love and can all look back to this festival on the Isle of Man as the place where it all started.

  • Fiona Helleur, Head of Youth Arts
    Youth Arts Centre

British All Winners Festival – Final Comments

So that’s the festival done and dusted.  Unfortunately no awards for the Isle of Man representatives though Andrew Halstein did get a nomination for his excellent portrayal of “Denis” the Servant in R.I.P Mr Shakespeare, as did Service Players for their “Naturalistic treatment of emotional content” in Is This Seat Taken?

Thankfully Bejou Productions & University Players, Hamburg, our adopted cousins, were rewarded with Runner-Up Play in the Full Length Section (Bejou) and the Full-Length Audience Appreciation, Backstage Award and Adjudicator’s Award going to University Players.

We would also like to give a special mention and offer congratulations to Nicholas Marsh for his new play “A Frank Exchange”.  Maybe we’ll see this as a One-Act Winner in future years.

So very well done everyone.

Grab a full set of results on the NDFA website ( or via the link from the MADF website.

The whole team at The Lamproom Theatre did a great job all week in making us all so welcome and creating a lovely friendly atmosphere, though they, like us seem to suffer from low audience figures for ordinary drama.  Let’s hope the quality we all witnessed can help to about turn this audience involvement in future years.

Bring on 2018!

  • Karen & Michael Goodman

British All Winners Festival – Night Seven

Here is our final day’s report on an interesting and mostly very enjoyable Festival.  The first play of the afternoon was The Snow Dragons performed by InterACT Youth Theatre from Cheshire.  A lively bunch of kids who threw themselves into the production with great gusto.  Their depiction of a children’s resistance group hiding out in the woods and trying to help their beleaguered relatives in the town had a few nice comic touches and some pathos, although they didn’t manage to grow their characters as the script intended.  However this play was well crafted and enjoyable to watch and the integration of song throughout was very effective.

The second play, Lear’s Daughters by Total Arts Community Theatre – Tamworth, is a prequel to King Lear and explores the emotional turmoil and development of the 3 sisters.  The 3 differing characters of the sisters were well defined and the fool (acting as a sort of MC) and the nurse created an interesting framework for building the ensuing cynicism and hatred for their father and each other.  A powerful and provocative piece of theatre.

The final play was a romp depicting 2 drag queens preparing for their performances in a seedy club.  Untucked was performed by Drama Queens – Cambridge and brought the Festival to a colourful and dramatic conclusion.  The characters were well drawn and the actors made their rather unlikeable personalities worthy of our sympathy.  A very entertaining piece with a good mixture of comedy and pathos. A very different end to a Festival.

A full list of results will be published in due course.

That’s it folks. Thanks to NDFA and farewell.

  • Karen & Michael Goodman

British All Winners Festival – Night Six

On the home run now with the last full-length play, a familiar offering of “The Night Alive” from the ever reliable Bejou Productions.

The set was carefully hidden from the audience by the curtain, or was the curtain simply stopping things from falling off the stage?!  Once revealed we were welcomed into the Dublin flat of Tommy, though how he could ever find anything in such an untidy, chaotic mess was a surprise.  Bringing all these props to the theatre must have been quite a logistical nightmare and certainly would have brought back memories of student days to many of us.

The team gave us good lilting Irish accents throughout the performance which helped draw us into the chaotic and somewhat lonely world of Tommy and his only real friend Doc, but with the introduction of Amy this world descends into more chaos and lots of trouble.

We were treated to some really natural performances from the entire team with the rather simple and slow-thinking Doc giving us a lovely characterisation and some excellent gentle comedy.  Maybe Kenneth could have been more menacing, but his presence was certainly felt.

This sensitive and sympathetic performance really examined a huge spectrum of emotions, managing to really mesmerise the audience.  Once again Conor McPherson has written a thought provoking, hard hitting yet wonderfully sensitive story.

With 3 very different full-length plays to consider our adjudicator Russell Whiteley should have to really think hard to tease out the right winner.

Our final report will be with you as soon as possible after the celebrations have died down tomorrow.

  • Karen & Michael Goodman

British All Winners Festival – Night Five

Day 5 brought a very busy evening with 3 entirely different one-acts.

The first, After Liverpool, done by The Thursday Night Project from Esher, was a sharply observed take on the subject of communication (or lack of it!) in short vignettes cleverly welded into a whole.  The piece reminded us of a minimalist music score in that the themes were repeated numerous times but with subtle nuanced differences.  There was some good sensitive delivery and the ensemble playing created an interesting “ripple” effect to the piece.  Overall quite a satisfying experience.

The next group, Pump House CYT from Watford with Sparkleshark, were a very young group (8-14) who, notwithstanding their tender years, played out their story of bullying and reconciliation with great confidence and gusto.  There was an obvious air of enthusiasm from all the youngsters and the play was very well received and applauded by the whole audience.  With children like this the future of drama seems assured!

The final play Uke Belong To Me from Big Squirrel – Ely,  was a two-hander written by one of the performers Kattreya Scheurer-Smith.  Excellent, passionate performances from the two actors who ran the whole gamut of emotions taking us along with them from their rather bizarre meeting (man rescues reluctant bride, stuck up a tree with a ukelele – yes really!)  until the final realisation that they loved each other.  A very minimal set consisting of 4 boxes moved by the actors themselves set every scene perfectly.  A very well constructed play thoroughly enjoyed by all.  One of the best evenings so far.

We look forward to the final full length play tomorrow.

Karen & Michael Goodman