We’ve written a bit before about our mentorship of Spark Productions as part of Project Y.E.S. (Youngsters On The European Stage) a Leader community programme that will develop theatre in rural areas throughout Europe. Spark Productions are the Irish participants on the project and now that their programme for the year is up and running, we thought we’d write a little bit more.
The 18 month development programme with Spark Productions is specifically to create new theatre opportunities for young people in County Kilkenny and all the while bolster the current work of Spark Productions with training, workshops and mentorship. So that’s what we’re doing. It’s a surefire mark that you’re growing old when you start mentoring younger groups (we’re 8 this year). Time, stop flying!
One of the biggest aspects of the development programme has been the formation of the first ever youth theatre in rural Kilkenny. Utilising our experience of youth theatre gained through our formative years with Dreamstuff Youth Theatre, we’ve helped set up Spark Youth Productions which will be run out of Spark Productions in Graiguenamanagh. There’s already a very talented group of youngsters selected for the group and they’ll be producing two new plays this year. The recent National Association Of Youth Drama newsletter featured an article from John Morton on his experience of youth theatre in Kilkenny, history of Dreamstuff and the setting up of Spark Youth Productions. The article kicked things off for the project and made it all very official. It was a really nice plug so thanks to NAYD for that.
We’ve set up a series of workshops running from this week all the way to July which will see professional theatre practitioners work with the older members of the Sparks team and their younger counterparts. Our first one was this past weekend and as you’ll see above, we took advantage of the large space in the Abbey Hall in Graiguenamanagh and we work-shopped the hell out of some theatre! Our mentorship will continue of the existent Spark Productions group who are all in their early 20’s and have been staging new and established work since 2011. Their first production out of the traps is Gina Moxley’s Danti Dan which they will perform in Graiguenamanagh and Kilkenny this March. This will be followed by another production for later in the summer which we’ll be helping out with. We’ll be engaging with the other European groups involved in Project Y.E.S and we hope this project will lead to more opportunities down the road.
We’re delighted to be part of the programme and to be able to help mentor new actors, designers and theatre makers over the course of the next year. Anything that creates new opportunities for young people to make theatre is really important to us. Our company grew out of the opportunities we were given as teenagers so we’re keen to see how the team at Spark Productions and Spark Youth Productions will develop in the coming years.
Exciting times! If you’re interested in the work Spark Productions are doing, you can visit them here.