Category Archives: Theatre for Young Audiences

Noah Barleywater Runs Away was the world premiere of a truly exciting theatre piece which has been adapted by internationally renowned playwright Mike Kenny from John Boyne’s novel of the same name.

The play explores the world of childhood and the adventures that we can all have there. Noah is running away from his problems, or at least that’s what he thinks, the day he takes the untrodden path through the forest. When he comes across a very unusual toyshop and meets the even more unusual toymaker, he’s not sure what to expect. But the toymaker has a story to tell, a story full of adventure, and wonder and broken promises. And Noah travels with him on a journey that will change his life for ever. This is a thought-provoking fable for our modern world from the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. School performances for this magical play ran in October 2023.

This is what the children had to say Barnstorm’s Theatre for Young Audiences responses

A captivating production in the enchanted surroundings of the boot factory Padmore and Barnes of Kilkenny from the 30th November to 16th December.

This is a short and caring story about a Christmas gift and based on one of the very few traditional fairy tales with a Christmas theme. The poor shoemakers receive some unexpected help just when they need it most. Based on the Grimms’ fairytale, “The Elves and the Shoemakers” by Mike Kenny is for children aged 4-9 years and tells the tale of two kind elves who help two penniless shoemakers out of their troubles and back on their feet. Presented to small audiences in the intimate surroundings of the Shoemakers’ Shop, this is a delightful introduction to theatre for very young audiences.

Teachers’ Resources

A resource pack is available to teachers linked to the SPHE syllabus, for exploration and discussion of themes in the play.

Download Teachers resource pack here


… the excellent performers each enlist the audience on their side…

The Irish Times review 7th June 2022 by Sara Keating

A grumpy old man is digging a hole for his cello in the forest floor. He’s terrible at digging, it’s not his forte. A young boy is blasted into his path, interrupting his impossible task. The boy is on a journey that he didn’t choose, to a place he has never been.

From this skittish fracas an unlikely duet takes shape; one person supporting the other to perform their triumphant finale.
Swansong is a heartfelt and comic exploration of a once in a lifetime encounter between two strangers. This new play for young audiences by Shane O’Reilly playfully and sensitively engages with the mythical notion of the swansong; a final gesture or performance.


Theatre Workshops

For County Kilkenny schools, classes attending a performance can book two workshops in their school, a session on visual literacy in advance of the performance and a second workshop on critical analysis in the days following their visit to the theatre – there is limited availability and will be provided on a ‘first-come’ basis.

Teachers’ Resources

A digital resource pack is available to participating teachers. Linked to the SPHE syllabus, the pack provides a focus for exploration and discussion of themes raised through the play.

Download Teachers resource pack here

The Author

Shane O’Reilly is an actor and a writer. Swansong is his first time to write for Barnstorm Theatre Company.
Shane’s recent theatre writing work includes: windowpane (The Abbey Theatre; Dear Ireland); Gold in the Water (Coming in 2023); The Water Boys (Equinox Theatre); Näher…closer, nearer, sooner (Liz Roche Company); FOLLOW, FARM and CARE (co-created with WillFredd Theatre); The Matador (Show in a Bag) The Genealogy Project (development showing at The Abbey Theatre, 2017)


Paulstown Community Hall

Venue Location: R95 NY93


Tickets School Group Rate €10 (Teachers free)

By Tom Swift

– “captures the zeitgeist of the young person’s world in this play for children aged 9+ years”

Alice spends virtually all her time in Wolf Wood. You know, the world’s deepest, darkest online game. Why not? Her dad isn’t around, her mother’s gone to Canada to meet a lumberjack and her best friend’s dumped her for a YouTube star. But what happens when the people you meet online come looking for you in real life? Who can you trust, and who is the Big Bad Wolf? This re-telling of the Little Red Riding Hood story is a digital fairy tale that’s deliciously funny and full of dangerously dark twists.

A digital resource pack linked to the SPHE syllabus;  a focus for exploration and discussion of themes in the play.

Download Teachers resource pack here

Boy with a Suitcase, by Mike Kenny for children aged 8-12 years

Boy with a Suitcase is the story of a 12 year old war refugee, who undertakes a long and dangerous journey to find asylum in Ireland. He carries with him only a small suitcase and a treasure of stories from his childhood. Like his hero, Sinbad the Sailor, who undertook many perilous voyages in search of his fortune, Naz must travel half-way around the world to reach the safety of his brother in Dublin. Naz teams up with Krysia, a young girl in similar circumstances, who helps him dodge soldiers and find safe passage over mountains, across seas and through the mire of a city slum.

A gripping tale of adventure and stories, Naz’s journey throws a spotlight on the real dangers faced by children in other parts of the world, and the lengths to which they must go to reach safety in the relative security of a country like Ireland.

The Author
Mike Kenny is a teacher, a parent, an actor and an award-winning playwright.
He has written in excess of 50 plays for children of all ages and is included in the list of Britain’s top ten playwrights.

Boy with a Suitcase played at Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from March 6 -9 2019.

A modern-day adventure for all, Star Chasers sees Billy and Dad heading north with just a tent and a box full of Mam’s memories.

On the way they pitch their tent, conjure Mam’s stories and quarrel as they seek journey’s end and a new beginning.

This is a rich exploration of the relationship between a parent and child and their attempts to come to terms with the shared loss in their lives. A tapestry of music, movement and magical imagery.

The Barn, Kilkenny;  Feb & March 2017  for children 4+ years