Last year, to celebrate 25 years of making theatre, Barnstorm Theatre Company developed a number of partnerships to bring new theatre experiences to Kilkenny audiences, alongside its annual programme. One of these partnerships was with the Kilkenny Arts Festival to produce a Family Season of Theatre during their festival in August, which proved a huge hit with audiences. Another was with the Watergate Theatre in a new venture to serve post-primary schools in Kilkenny and the southeast by producing the ‘Curriculum Play Live’, offering students the opportunity to see the play as live theatre, while also giving Kilkenny audiences excellent productions of classic plays.
The first of these was Brian Friel’s Translations, which had a huge and positive reaction from schools and the public alike in a truly great production. This year the partnership continues with another Irish classic The Plough and the Stars by Sean O’Casey, which will have eight performances for schools and general audiences from the end of November.
A History of Quality
In 1993, the Watergate Theatre was opened by President Mary Robinson, and, coincidentally, Barnstorm was the first professional theatre company to tread the boards that March. Now, the venue hosts over 200 shows annually. Last year the Watergate attracted audiences of approx. 25,000; allied to this, over 10,000 people have actively participated in shows by Watergate Productions. The theatre provides a cornucopia of delight as an eclectic mix of professional, amateur, community, dance and school groups avail of its facilities. It is now noticeable that community and, in particular, school groups from the city and around the county are anxious to perform on stage at the Watergate.
Nationally, The Watergate is recognised for its excellence and is a much sought-after venue for touring groups. The skills, knowledge, flexibility and professionalism of the venue staff come to the fore in catering to the myriad needs of shows and it is also credited with ensuring that these groups return.
In the last 26 years Barnstorm has achieved recognition as Ireland’s leading producer of theatre for young audiences, presenting work locally and touring nationally and internationally. In recent years, and with the support of Culture Ireland, the company has toured North America, Australia and the UK. 2018 will see national tours of two productions, as well as a Barnstorm play touring to Spain.
Barnstorm has collaborated both locally and internationally with prestigious artists in the creation of a series of world-premiere plays for young audiences. Among these are Katy Weir and Scott Johnson who, earlier this year, developed Star Chasers, which will embark on an extensive tour in 2018. Another collaboration was with Sarah Argent, who wrote and directed the internationally successful The Bockety World of Henry & Bucket. Next spring, Barnstorm will launch yet another world premiere with a play directed by Martin Drury, the founding director of The Ark – A Cultural Centre for Children in Dublin, and written by Brendan Murray, who was the author of the widely acclaimed 2014 production of Barnstorm’s Monday’s Child.
Performances of The Plough and the Stars will take place from Wednesday, November 29th to Saturday, December 2nd; nightly at 8pm with performances for schools at 10.30am on Thursday and Friday. For more information, go to watergatetheatre.com / Box Office: 056 7761674