Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tenderfoot Young Playwrights

Get them while they are young, seems to be the principle of a pioneering playwrighting scheme, get them while they are very young. While the National Theatre, or initiatives like Rough Magic's Seeds project, are prepared to wait until writers are in the 20s and 30s before testing their metal, a scheme being run by a collection of south Dublin groups, intend to find the next generation of writers for the theatre before they even leave school.

Tenderfoot, as the scheme is called, began back in October, when 16 transition year students from schools around South Dublin were selected to attend a four-day workshop in Tallagh's Civic Theatre with playwright Gavin Kostick (he of the one man marathon Heart of Darkness reading) of Fishamble Theatre Company and Liam Halligan of Storytellers Theatre Company.

After this, students submitted finished plays, battling for the right to get a production of their show this month at the Civic Six plays were finally selected, and they go up next week in the theatre's Loose End space. (was someone filming this for a textvote-tastic TV series?) Along with the playwrights, another group of students has been given an introduction to aspects of theatre production, and have been helping get the new plays ready for their openings.

Tenderfoot, which is a collaboration between The Civic Theatre, South County Dublin Arts Office and Storytellers Theatre Company, has been developed by Barabbas' Veronica Coburn, who is currently artist in residence at the Civic.

So far, one thing is clear: if the champions of Tenderfoot are an indication of things to come, then there will be very few male playwrights on Irish stages in the future. The plays which have won through to the final six, as it happen, all written by girls.

And for anyone who want to keep a tabs over the next couple of decades, the winning plays are: Warming Ice by Eimear Bannister, from St. Paul's Secondary School, Greenhills; Fashion by Ellen Tannam from Sancta Maria College, Ballyroan; Pearls of Wisdom by Clare MacEntee, who is also from Sancta Maria College, Ballyroan; Nobody by Molly Sanderson, of St. Columba's College, Whitechurch; Monologue by Jade McDonnell of Collinstown Park Community College, Neilstown; and Trapped By Fear by Aisling O'Leary/Sancta Maria College, Ballyroan.

So there.

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Monday, May 18, 1998

The Whiteheaded Boy (Andrews Lane Theatre, Dublin)

The most surprising aspect of Barabbas' success is that the company has made its reputation performing deeply lighthearted slapstick comedy, often while wearing clip-on red noses, on an Irish theatre scene still enamoured with the theatre of the word.

With The Whiteheaded Boy, the company founders -- Veronica Coburn, Raymond Keane and Mikel Murfi -- offer a substantial nod to that literary, Abbey version of Irish theatre, while at the same time shredding its pretensions and creating their most consistently satisfying work yet.

Lennox Robinson's comedy (first performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1916) of one Irish family and its blinkered response to the bad habits of its favourite son, gives ample scope for the indefatigably elastic Barabbas threesome (with Louis Lovett) to work their brand of theatrical magic.

The production's return to Dublin offers Irish audience's a last chance to catch the company before they open the show in London, to what will undoubtedly -- given the current vogue for Irish theatre -- be widespread acclaim.

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