The Hereford County Drama Festival has had a long and prestigious history. Last year, however, it looked like the Festival would be no more. Dwindling audiences and limited entries had meant that the Festival was becoming not viable financially. Thanks to the timely generosity of the Market Theatre, Ledbury in placing their facilities at the disposal of the Festival organisers it has been possible for the HCDF to continue for at least another year.

The first hurdle, which has now been successfully negotiated, was to ensure that sufficient entries to the festival were obtained. This has been achieved with an abundance of one act plays being offered – thirteen in all. All of which has enabled the festival organisers to arrange not only three evenings of excellent theatre but also to offer a matinee session on the Saturday of the festival.

Ross-on-Wye’s own Phoenix Theatre is to stage three of these productions. The Phoenix Youth Theatre will present an original piece ‘Who’s Playing Juliet’ written and directed by the Phoenix’s own Zoe Hutton. Additionally the adult side of the theatre will offer two comedy productions – ‘All Through the Night’ by Frank Vickery and ‘Coffee Break’ by David Tristram.

Not only is HCDF an important element of Hereford’s cultural life, it also acts as a gateway to the All England Theatre Festival, being the one of the official first rounds of that competition. Last year’s HCDF winner – Ledbury Amateur Dramatic Society’s entry, Nick Warburton’s ‘The Last Bread Pudding’ directed by Ben Mowbray – made it to the semi-finals of the competition.

Next year it could be one of Ross-on-Wye’s productions.

Of course, it won’t be done without plenty of audience support. The Phoenix teams need you to be there when they are on stage and it happens that the Thursday, March 8th session of the HCDF will be a Phoenix Night. All three Phoenix Theatre shows will be performed that evening.

The full festival will take place at the Market Theatre, Ledbury on March 8th, 9th and 10th – evening sessions from 7pm and the Saturday matinee from 2pm. Tickets are now on sale at the theatre’s website – a single session ticket is priced at £8, with great value combination tickets for more than one session or the whole festival.

Go along and support your local theatre!