I had a wonderful theatrical experience at St. Declan’s National School last week with the Little Red Kettle Touring Play. Thanks to school principal, Kevin Doran and Jenny Clooney of Red Kettle, I got to sit in with about a hundred fourth class pupils for an amazing and entertaining show – The Life Of Riley. Written and directed by the excellent Liam Meagher, who has a show running in the Theatre Royal as well – Sleepy Suggy.
What made the show so special and such an achievement for a very hard-working cast of four committed and professional actors, is that the adventurous story with lots of scene and costume changes, uses at least twenty-five young people to play nearly all the parts – no rehearsal – just the skill of the four actors to prompt dialogue, move them around and put them into wonderful and colourful costumes. You would think many of these children were born actors, the way they did voices, struck poses and played their part without embarrassment or hesitation. For nearly an hour there was a parade of characters in a very clever, and dare I say it, very educational story that is very unique in theatre-in-education and youth theatre in general. To trust such a number of audience volunteers and to enjoy the performance is nothing short of amazing. This is high quality technique made seem effortless and fun by highly skilled and committed actors.
This show started out on the 16th November and will have played nearly a hundred performances before it ends in late January 2010. The benefits to the young children who take part are impressive and no wonder we have such talent emerging year on year. If this was London, the BBC arts programmers would be raving and filming the process.
The four actors are Jenny Clooney, Nick Kavanagh, Clair Walsh and Joe Meagher. A vanload of costumes were designed and made by Jeannine Storan and the set and barrow-full of props were devised by Clair Walsh.