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By Sarah Argent, in collaboration with Barnstorm Theatre Company

Bucket & Henry take a drive

Bucket & Henry take a drive (Photo: Dylan Vaughan)

What is friendship? What happens when it goes wrong?

What do you have to do to make it work?

Barnstorm Theatre Company’s national tour of its insightful new play for children aged 4 and older, commenced at Draíocht on Monday 8th April. The Bockety World of Henry & Bucket looks at friendship through a day in the life of two friends who live in a bockety world of discarded objects.

Responses to its World Premiere in Kilkenny have been resoundingly enthusiastic – comments included ‘pure theatre’, ‘visually imaginative’ and ‘…they haven’t stopped talking about it since.’

Written and directed by Sarah Argent, based on a collaborative devising process with Barnstorm, The Bockety World of Henry & Bucket is humorous and rich in visual antics. Through Henry and Bucket’s relationship we can examine what friendship is, what goes wrong and how you fix it.

Their friendship reflects the bockety world they inhabit – there are wobbles and shakes, and it’s not quite level all the time but it works! How do friends reconcile when they’ve had their battles, got on each other’s nerves, and even stooped to telling lies…?

This is an entertaining, thought-provoking exploration of friendship for young children and their families.

A play for children aged 4 and older.

Running time: 40 minutes

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Bits, Bites & Pieces

Following their debut, Shorts 11,  Barnstorm’s Adult Theatre Club continued to perfect their acting skills and began to tackle the role of ‘The Director’.  The fruits of their labour were seen at The Barn in February 2012 when Bits, Bites and Pieces hit the stage.

Now responsible for front of house and what happened on the stage the ATC transformed The Barn into the intimate setting of a cabaret club where patrons enjoyed wine and nibbles at café style tables while being entertained.  Happening during Valentine’s week, Bits, Bites and Pieces looked at love from all angles, and more so what happens after the usual ‘happy ever afters’ associated with romances.

Each group member chose a monologue or piece that they would like to perform.  They then teamed up with another member of the group who would like to direct that specific piece.  Each director then also became responsible for the set, costume, lighting and sound for the piece.  It was the perfect way to show case the wide range of talents the group had developed over its two years.

With all sorts of life and theatre experience between them, the members, who hail from all over Kilkenny and further afield, were Joe Nolan, Paul Derby, Ann Daly, Deirdre Dowling, Ann Jones, Tanya long, Cara Doherty, Caroline O’Hanrahan and Melissa Quirke.

The night included monologues, poetry and song.  Theatre pieces included were The Care and Feeding of Baby Birds by Ann Weuhler, Between daylight and Boonville by Matt Williams, The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekov, Molly Sweeny by Brian Friel, Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell, Art by Yasmina Reza, Molly Bloom by James Joyce  and two pieces from Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa.  There was also two original pieces written by group members: Lights in the Dark by Cara O’Doherty and Draft 1.0 by Ann Jones

Poetry included Daily Bread by Jane Clarke, Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare, The Big Boys by Rita Ann Higgins, Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas, The Stolen Child by W.B Yeats,  He Wishes for Cloths From Heaven by W.B Yeats

There were two songs included: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and Gold written by group member Paul Derby.

‘Working with the Adult Theatre Club has opened my eyes to the excitement of all aspects of putting on a stage performance’ said Joe Nolan

At the time, Tanya Long, another member said ‘With the production night fast approaching the skills and experience gained in the last two years with the group are being put to good use’.

Bits, Bites and Pieces, a relaxing evening of wine, nibbles, monologues and more… happened in The Barn, Church Lane, Kilkenny on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February.


In 2007, after much demand from the public, Barnstorm decided to create opportunities for the adults in Kilkenny & the South East to explore the art of theatre from acting to stage management to design and more. The Adult Drama Club was initiated to be a place to socialise and learn about theatre, to go to shows and discuss the aspects of production afterwards in a fun yet critically positive environment. A second group was formed a few years later both groups are now the Barn Owl Players with a growing reputation for exciting and innovative theatre projects in Kilkenny.

In 2010 the first One-Act Theatre Festival was launched to tremendous success and to date the members of Barn Owl Players are constantly looking for new challenges in the development of theatre skills.

For further information contact 0567751266 or




Love In Lockdown – Panic Stations 2022


Productions & Projects to date:

(2022) Love in Lockdown: LIVE (2 programmes May)

(2021) Love in Lockdown Part1 (March) + Part 2 (April)

(2020) Zoom BOP: CONFINEMENT (partnership with Barn Owl Players (12 monologues on Zoom and launched on YouTube)

(2017) Big Maggie by John B Keane

(2016) One-Act Festival 2016 – The Bear by Brian Friel & Tough Cookies by Edward Crosby Wells

(2015) Christmas Crackers

(2015) Blood, Bats & Barn Owls @ Rothe House

(2015) One-Act Festival 2015 – A Bedtime Story by Sean O’Casey, Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn & A Little Box Of Oblivion by Stephen Bean

(2015) What’s Love Got to Do with It? @ Hole in the Wall

(2014) Christmas Crackers

(2014) One-Act Festival: Theatre X 2

(2013) Mid-May Murders (BOP + KATS) Any Body for Tea? by G. B. Gilford & The Patient by Agatha Christie.

(2012) Re: Joyce @ The Hole In The Wall

(2012) Keane Writings @ The Hole In The Wall

(2012) Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel

(2012) Cabaret Nights – Members direct each other in an evening of monologues, excerpts and poetry presented in The Barn in the unique setting of a club.

(2011) 2nd Annual One-Act Festival – Two plays The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter and The Donahue Sisters by Geraldine Aron directed, designed, stage managed and produced by the members.

(2011) Shorts 11 – The new Adult Theatre Club took to the stage in the tradition of previous members and produced four play excerpts in a full evening presentation in The Barn.

(2011) Love Is…  But like true troopers the BOP rose to another challenge and in a short time created a memorable evening of Love with poetry, song and drama, for romantics & cynics alike, that was presented in The Hole in the Wall on High Street.

(2010) Christmas Crackers – Pieces were chosen and cast, directors elected and rehearsals well under way when the great snow of 2010 hit! We had to postpone and then cancel this one when January arrived.

(2010) One-Act Festival – BOP produced the first festival which comprised of two programmes with five plays presented in The Barn over a week.

(2010) Anything…But Peig – The second group of adults had been developing theatre skills over the previous year and presented their version of Cabaret Nights with an Irish flavour in celebration of St Patrick’s Day.

(2009) Christmas Crackers – The company re-visited the Cabaret Nights module to present a festive fare that thrilled audiences on the run-up to Christmas. This time mulled wine and mince pies added to the enjoyment of short performances, poems and songs to celebrate the season in The Barn.

(2009) Halloween Tales – Members of the Barn Owl Players created a show for children that involved Celtic Folklore and Legend based on Halloween and the horror tale. Children (and parents) were encouraged to bring along a duvet, blanket or pillow for this treat that was presented in The Barn on 31st Oct.

(2009) Cabaret Nights @ The Barn – Members directed each other in monologues that were presented in a ‘cabaret-style’ in The Barn – audiences were seated at individual tables surrounded by paintings and glitz, and, while performances took place on stages at either end of the room, were fed wine and titbits. (to back page)

(2009) Shorts 09 – Another series of short plays directed by Barnstorm staff and presented by the new ADC in The Barn

(2008) The Whiteheaded Boy – A full-length 3-act play by Lennox Robinson presented in the Watergate Theatre

(2008) Shorts 08 – A series of short plays directed by Barnstorm staff and presented in The Barn

By Mike Kenny

‘…the fluidity of narration, combined with the simplicity of the settings allows the story to flow seamlessly…The Barnstorm ensemble, both in acting and production, has a consistency and continuity that contributes greatly to a house-style that is lucid and engaging, not only for the target audience, in this case 4-5 year-olds –  but also the adults who accompany them’. Irish Theatre Magazine

Puppet Josh in The Song from the Sea (Photo: Dylan Vaughan)

Puppet Josh in The Song from the Sea (Photo: Dylan Vaughan)

Listen! Can you hear it?

Our captivating new show The Song from the Sea, by Mike Kenny, focuses on a young boy’s struggle to find his place in his family, and in the wider world. Blending storytelling, performance, puppets, music and a beautiful song from the sea, this show is a sensory treat.

Playwright Mike Kenny’s writing shows great empathy with young children. He will be familiar to Barnstorm audiences as the author of Big Sister, Little Brother and Jack.

With its blend of magic and realism, and an emphasis on shared storytelling The Song from the Sea is an encouraging and uplifting show for young children.

A play for children aged 4 and older.

Running time: 35 minutes

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Barn Owl Players’ second One-Act Festival played at The Barn. The programme consisted of two short plays. The first, The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter, was directed by Ita Morrissey and performed by Jim Carroll and John Whitely. The Dumb Waiter is one of Pinter’s recognised works and is often compared to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter








The second play, The Donahue Sisters by Geraldine Aron is set in the attic of a childhood where three sisters meet up and share stories before taking part in a dark ritualistic re-enactment. The Donahue Sisters, which premiered in The Abbey Theatre, was directed by Patricia Brennan. Mary Cody, Sinead Goggin and Janis Woodgate played the roles of the three sisters.


When the Adult Drama Club started in 2007 it was with the hope that amateur theatre would flourish again in Kilkenny. Five years on and the Barn Owl Players, which emerged from the ADC and is made up of members from each of the 1st two ADC groups, has an enviable and innovative track record of productions from Love Is… a Valentine treat in the Hole in the Wall to The Whiteheaded Boy, a three-act play in the Watergate Theatre, to a series of exciting presentations in The Barn which is BOP’s home.

Performances took place nightly at 8pm from May 19 – 21.

Ticket prices: €12 & €10

Poster for Barn Owl Players annual One-Act Festival

Poster for Barn Owl Players annual One-Act Festival

The Hens

The Hens

The Adult Theatre Club 2010-2012, made their debut in this year’s Shorts 11.  After eight months of workshops, training and rehearsals, they were ready to tread the boards.

Shorts 11 was performed by 12 members of ATC, who had been in training and developing their theatre skills since September 2010. With all sorts of life and theatre experience between them, the members, who hail from all over Kilkenny and further afield, were Joe Nolan, Helena Duggan, Paul Derby, Olive Whelan, Ann Daly, Olivia Boyce, Laura Cullen, Deirdre Dowling, Ann Jones, Tanya long, Cara Doherty and Caroline O’Hanrahan with Melissa Quirke as stage manager.

Shorts 11 consisted of four pieces, extracted from Stags and Hens by Willy Russell, Someone to Watch Over Me by Frank McGuinness, The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh and The Factory Girls also by Frank McGuinness.  The pieces were directed by Barnstorm’s Artistic Director Philip Hardy, Barn Owl Player Trish Brennan and Barnstorm’s Outreach Officer Anna Galligan.

The performances, which were the groups first public foray, took place on the 14th and 16th of April at 8pm at The Barn.

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Barnstorm Theatre Company in association with Trish Brennan of the Barn Owl Players, kindly supported by Kilkenny Arts Office, presented Women in Our Lives — an evening of Playback Theatre on 8th March 2011 in the Set Theatre.

Kilkenny County Council -Arts Office

Kilkenny County Council -Arts Office









Playback Theatre is a unique improvisiational form of theatre, where there is no script, but stories are told by an audience member and are immediately made into theatre.

The performance involves a group of actors, a musician, a conductor and a ‘cloth tree’ and is both entertaining and moving. The theme for this event was the celebration of Women in Our Lives and what they mean to us.

This was Trish Brennan’s first public performance in the role of conductor, and it was a resounding success. The audience was warm and inviting, and with Trish’s encouragement, were most generous with their vignettes, memories and stories of women in their lives.

The company of actors and musician, who travelled from all over Ireland for the event, was impressive – their cohesiveness as a group lending a visual and aural rhythm to the stories.

This performance was part of a programme of activities in Kilkenny to celebrate International Women’s Day, under the encouragement of Cllr Catherine Connery, then Caothaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council.

Awa Ndurd with Catherine Connery, Cathaoirleach, Kilkenny County Council.

Celebrating International Women's Day - Awa Ndurd with Catherine Connery, Cathaoirleach, Kilkenny County Council.




A series of readings, poetry, excerpts and song for Valentine’s Day.

Love Is…was presented at the 18th century Hole in the Wall tavern in Kilkenny. An alternative to the usual Valentine’s entertainment, audience participation added to the atmosphere and enjoyment of the night. The Barn Owl Players enjoyed their foray to a new venue in Kilkenny, having played The Barn for many of their productions.

Such was the success of the evening  that the Barn Owls have been booked to present the show again in October 2011.

Hole in the Wall_Love Is by the Barn Owl Players


Moving Up

Hard at play in a workshop

Hard at play in a workshop

Delivered in Presentation Primary School, following an inquiry from Principal Mrs. Maria Kelly, Moving Up is a drama programme designed to explore the thoughts and feelings of 6th Class pupils regarding their move to post primary school.

The programme was delivered over four ninety-minute sessions with a class of 28 pupils, with class teacher Mairéad Cummins present throughout. The first three sessions took place in the gym and the last session was held in the classroom.

First Session
The first session looked at the pupil’s journey through primary school. Using memory and group exercises each pupil told the story of ‘their journey through primary school’, using Sculpting, Tableaux and Dynamisation to explore their feelings around particular memories.

As a group they were brought from Junior Infants to where they are now. As pupils offered thoughts in the tableaux, the class discussed and shared these memories. Using the same drama methodologies, each pupil made a tableau to show how they were feeling about finishing in primary school.

Discussion was integral to the session. The fear of moving from a position of ‘top’ of the school to being at the ‘bottom’ was a recurring theme.

Second Session
Inspired by the recurring theme, the second session worked with the pupils to explore Status. Through activity and discussion they looked at the physical traits of various statuses, how we portray status, how others endow us with status.

They explored the differences between societal status and personal status. There was discussion around the sometimes-blurring lines of arrogance, aggression and assertiveness and their relation to ‘high’ status. Pupils had fun with some script excerpts where the relationship inferred a particular status such as ‘teacher/pupil’, ‘parent/child’, ‘customer/waiter’. They then played the scenes inversing the societal status e.g. the pupil being higher status than the teacher.


Primary school children in a workshop

Primary school children in a workshop

Third Session
The third session projected the pupils into the future. They formed pairs – one was a new first-year student and the other character was someone that s/he could talk to. They then gave the student one hope and one fear about starting in post primary.

With a prepared tableau from a previous exercise as a starting point, the pairs played out the ensuing one-minute conversation. The group then broke into two – an inside circle and an outside circle. Those on the inside of the circle were the ‘Experts’ and those on the outside of the circle had a question that they wanted to ask about moving to post primary. Each ‘Expert’ had one minute to offer an answer or advice. Each question was answered by at least 10 ‘Experts’. There was feedback about the types of questions that arose and the different answers or advice given.


Primary school children in workshop

Primary school children in workshop

Fourth Session
In the fourth session, the pupils were introduced to four ‘characters’, inspired by fears that had emerged in the previous session. Each ‘character’ situation was discussed in small groups. They wrote and presented a short scene to demonstrate the character’s predicament. Each ‘character’ situation was discussed and this was followed by each group writing a letter of advice to the character.

The pupils were fully engaged in the sessions and the topics explored which in turn provided stimulus for further discussion outside of the drama sessions. The programme could not have happened without the openness and support of Principal Mrs. Maria Kelly, Ms Cummins and the 6th class pupils of 2011.


By Mike Kenny

Jack (Photo: Dylan Vaughan)

Jack (Photo: Dylan Vaughan)

Jack has been a great disappointment to his mother. Now he is about to become the Giant’s dinner. The giant’s wife hasn’t got it easy either, coping with a demanding and bad-tempered husband.

But between hens with golden eggs, magic table cloths and giants that only dance on a Wednesday, this play focuses in on the potential for transformation, where even giants can come good, bad-tempered bullies can get their comeuppance and lazy boys can become heroes.

In this quirky, witty and hugely entertaining take on Jack and the Beanstalk, Barnstorm’s acting ensemble enthrals its young audience with its unique brand of visually exciting, high-energy performance, served up with music, dance, puppetry and lashings of fun.

A play for children aged 4 to 7 years.

Running time: 35 minutes.

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