MADF One Act Play Festival: "...it brings people with an interest in theatre together."

MADF: University Players, Hamburg.
Photo by

University Players, Hamburg. Image by Mike Trout and Bob Servantes


The Manx Amateur Drama Federation
was formed in the 1940's with the Easter Festival of Plays starting in 1950. 2020 will be their 70th Anniversary.

The MADF One Act Play Festival is one of the largest festivals of its kind, competing as part of the All England Theatre Festival in the Northern area. The winner of the One Act Play has the opportunity to compete further in the AETF, or to be invited to take part at the British All Winners Festival. Last year saw both The Service Players and The Broadway Theatre Company take part at BAWF at the Lamproom Theatre, Barnsley with support from MADF, the Arts Council and Steam Packet.

"The new writing was really interesting and the performance standards were really high all throughout."

We spoke to the folks over at MADF to tell us how the One Act Play Festival went and what we can look forward to with the Easter Plays next! 


The Chairman, Clare Austin, introducing the Easter Festival of Full Length Plays. Image by Mike Trout and Bob Servantes.

Q. Why do you think the One Act Play Festival is so important to have on the Island?

We provide a valuable opportunity for local playwrights to introduce their plays in front of an audience and GoDA adjudicator, as well as giving amateur theatre companies the opportunity to perform.

We also organise the Easter and the Young Actor of Mann, in addition to the Festival One Act Play Festival in February. 

"We also plan to encourage technicians, directors, writers and students of drama too."

It is predominantly amateur theatre companies from the Isle of Man that compete, but as a part of the AETF, it is also open to companies from across. This year saw the return of The Blackwood Little Theatre from Wales. We are open to all amateur drama, operatic, musical and play groups in the Isle of Man and Associate Members.

Thumbnails of all the One Act Plays that featured in this year's festival.

Q. How did you feel the Festival went this year?

Really well, we had 10 quite diverse entries in every sense. Some small casts, some larger groups and all ages from 7 upwards. The new writing was really interesting and the performance standards were really high all throughout. Our visiting adjudicator was very complimentary and the audience very positive about the changes.

"It builds confidence and gives people the opportunity to watch or try something new."

Q. How did you find the new setting of King's Court Theatre to be like?

We think it was a really good space for the festival. This is the first year we've been there so bit of a learning curve and we are still gathering feedback but so far so good.

Q. Do you think that it is a good opportunity to attract new audiences to the theatre?

Yes, and performers! We also plan to encourage technicians, directors, writers and students of drama too. That is definitely the plan.

"...it comes down to presentation, delivery and content."

MADF Backstage crew - by Mike Trout and Bob Servantes.

Q. What benefits do you think this festival has had for amateur groups and individuals?

It allows people to showcase their ideas, and it brings people with an interest in theatre together. It builds confidence and gives people the opportunity to watch or try something new.

Q. How are the performances judged? What sort of things do you look for?

We bring over an independent GODA (Guild of Drama Adjudicators) adjudicator to judge both our festivals. We've had a number of different judges over the years and they all have different ideas about how to award points, but basically it comes down to presentation, delivery and content.

"This supports our intention of broadening the theatrical experience available on the island and the use of the historical Gaiety theatre..."


Easter Festival of Full Length Plays Adjudicator. Image by Mike Trout and Bob Servantes.

Q. What were your personal highlights?

Too many to list, every performance had a gem in it and I wouldn't like to choose. It was worth the hard work from the moment the first play started.

"This year we have another diverse selection of plays from Joan of Arc to competitive cabbies playing table tennis!"

Posters for the Easter Plays featuring this year.

Q. The Easter Plays are next, please can you tell us a little more about that and what we can look forward to?

This is another annual event, starting every year on Easter Saturday for a full week. We accept entries from the IOM and across, and in the last two years we have expanded to Germany and Switzerland. This supports our intention of broadening the theatrical experience available on the island and the use of the historical Gaiety theatre, which is appreciated by both the audience and the participating teams. The teams in turn get to experience the island and all that it offers, with many returning every year.

This year we have another diverse selection of plays from Joan of Arc to competitive cabbies playing table tennis! At £56 for 7 plays, the season ticket is a steal!

Tickets for the Easter Festival are available from the Gaiety Theatre Box Office, 01624 600555 or online

Find out more about MADF here

2018 Festival Dates

The Easter Festival of Full Length Plays:
Saturday 31st March – Friday 6th April

The Young Actor of Mann:
Final – Wednesday 4th April


A sponsored body of
The Department of Education, Sport and Culture
Rheynn Ynsee, Spoyrt as Cultoor
Isle of Man Government
Reiltys Ellan Vannin
Isle of man Government
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