Proper Preggers
11th November 2009, Moat Theatre, Naas | 20th-22nd November 2009, Liffey Studio| 25th-26th March 2010, Liffey Studio  | Fife, Scotland 30 June-05 July 2010

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“For years,” she says, “they’ve grown up with the idea that they haven’t got the ability to sing, despite the fact that music is integral to their lives. Singing is deeply personal and can expose the singer’s vulnerability in a way that is unique. Sometimes people find it embarrassing to do this in public. My job was to provide a safe place in which they could let their inhibitions go and to support them in finding their individual voices.”

 - Director Eimear Crehan on getting actors to try singing. 

How can you use the traditional form of musical theatre to explore issues of interest to teenagers? This was the question presented to Kildare Youth Theatre at the start of summer 2009.

 

Do you jazz up Grease or Oliver and add your production to the hundreds of those already produced every year? Kildare Youth Theatre’s answer was to create their own musical from scratch. They devised the plot, invented the characters, created the dialogue and scenes, and composed their own songs over a three month period. Such was the birth of Proper Preggers, Kildare’s first original musical entirely created by teenagers.

Kildare Youth Theatre is experienced in devising new plays and sketches using dialogue and movement, but never before have they had the confidence to write their own musical.

Under the direction of Eimear Crehan and Keith Millar, the former being a gospel choir singer, young actors were encouraged to sing, a challenge in itself, as most of them were very shy about using their voice in this way.

 

The resulting workshops over the summer created a buzz of excitement and wonder as previously shy people revealed wonderfully competent singing voices, and often moved their peers with their ability to both create and perform beautiful songs about the reality of being teenagers in Kildare today.

Dance routines were choreographed by Mary Duffin, a long-time director of Kildare Youth Theatre who has also choreographed many memorable routines for public performance with the young ensemble.

The story revolves around Tara and Ben, two young people who have been together for two years and are in love. When Tara finds out that she is pregnant their world flips upside down. Ben, who does not have a supportive family, doesn't know how to handle the news that he is going to be a father at just 17. Tara tries to cope with Ben's reaction as well as her family’s disappointment in her. Meanwhile Ben and Tara's friends, and enemies, try to handle the news of this shock teenage pregnancy. Tara finds out who her friends really are, and tries to deal with the other girls who have a blast with the scandal.

 

The young couple must navigate the complex world that is full of peer pressure, disapproval, excitement, bewilderment and envy, while trusting that their love for each other will somehow see them through. But is this love enough?

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CAST:

Tara - Rhianne Fahey
Ben (her boyfriend) - Anthony Davidson
Jim - Ian Armstrong
Babs - Rachel Boland
Mr Hendricks (the teacher) - Kenny Stapleton
Andrew (Tara's father) - Wesley Carroll
Sinead (Tara's mother) - Laura Byrne
Lily (Tara's sister) - Mary Kiely
Damo (Ben's father) - Darren Sinnott
Jacinta (Ben's mother) - Marie Whelehan
Cornelius (Ben's cousin) - Christopher Clarke
Lucy (Tara's friend) - Mary McDermott
Claire (Tara's friend) - Jenny Ryan
Jane (Tara's friend) - Sophia Ellis
Daryl (Ben's friend) - Marc Tuffy
Hugh (Ben's friend) - Thomas O'Driscoll
Kellie - Eliza Kelly
Roisín - Amy Quille
Leanne - Sophie Reville

PRODUCTION:

Director: Keith Millar
Musical Direction: Eimear Crehan
Choreography: Mary Duffin
Lighting/Stage Crew: Jack Tinley, Andrew Murtagh and Donnacha Gately

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An extract of the show's brochure - Proper Preggers had a cast of 20 as well as 12 original songs and dance numbers.

Check out performances of 'What A Man' and 'Foot in Mouth' from Proper Preggers below.

Proper Preggers was brought back  to be performed at the National Festival of Youth Theatre in Fife, Scotland in June 2010. A special performance took place in March 2010 to fundraise for the trip. 

Theatre & Justice Youth Facilitator Training Programme
September 2009 - April 2010, The Liffey Studio 

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The Theatre and Justice Youth Facilitator Training Programme was an initiative spearheaded by Crooked House Theatre company which aimed to train young people aged between 18-26, in using drama as a tool for justice and development education work with other young people.

After selecting young participants with an interest in advocacy, a series of intensive workshops were held over a period of a few months, where techniques from Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed were used which consists of developing and delivering programmes of critical, political and social awareness that use theatre as their method. As well as this, general theatrical skills and foundations such as narrative, safe-spaces and monologues were taught as this project was open to more than just members of Kildare Youth Theatre.

After the weekly workshops were concluded, the group were divided into couples who, using the material and skills they learned in their workshops, participated with a range of local community groups, schools, and clubs to further awareness and knowledge of themes raised in the workshop. At both stages of the project, talks and materials were provided by the charity Trócaire.

The Theatre and Justice Youth Facilitator Training Programme was funded by Trócaire's Mobilising for Justice (MfJ) Grants Scheme 2009.

Breathing Corpses [CHT]
15th August, Moat Theatre, Naas | 17th-29th August 2009, Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

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Crooked House Theatre Company was responsible for the Irish premiere of British playwright Laura Wade's play Breathing Corpses. The play is a tragi-comedy about discovering dead bodies and the impact it has on those who discover them.

Amy has found another body in the hotel bedroom. Jim and Elaine can’t ignore any longer the smell coming from one of their self-storage units. And Kate stumbles upon a murder victim while walking the dog in the park.  Laura Wade’s powerful and award-winning play is about people who have lost all happiness, and about how one death can cause another, and another, and another. Told in a daisy-chain of five scenes, one connected to the next by the dead body in each, the play is a murderous jig-saw puzzle and a very black comedy.


Breathing Corpses was the second play by Laura Wade, young British author of Colder Than Here. She won the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright 2005 for Breathing Corpses and Colder Than Here; the Pearson Playwrights Best Play Award for Breathing Corpses 2006; and was the joint winner of the George Devine Award for Breathing Corpses 2006, amongst other awards.

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Credit has to go to director Peter Hussey as he manages to tease out difficult short intense performances from all the cast. Especially memorable is the charming but psychopathic Charlie distilled dangerously with appropriate nervous energy by Keith Burke in the final scene with poor harmless Amy. [...] Breathing Corpses is dark but ultimately it affirms the belief that with death all around us our duty is to live with all the vigour we can. Crooked House excellently deliver, with an appropriate cutting edge, Breathing Corpses’ challenging bleakness.

-Patrick Brennan of the Irish Theatre Magazine. 

'Assured and impressive [...] Jillian plays it so beautifully [...] Amy Fleming plays the chambermaid beautifully [...] the actors do a fantastic job


-Brian Singleton - The Arts Show, RTE Radio 1, 20/08/09.

Read more reviews of our production of Breathing Corpses here.

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CAST:

PRODUCTION:

Amy - Amy Fleming
Jim - Nick Devlin 
Elaine - Cathy White
Ray - Niall Moore
Kate - Jillian Bradbury
Ben  - Steve Gunn 
Charlie - Keith Burke 

(find out more about the cast in the attached brochure)


 

Director - Peter Hussey
Lighting - Ciáran Aspell
Set Designer - Ciáran Aspell
Costume & Props - Kate Connaughton
Stage Manager - Treenie Curran
Assistant Director - Soazig Metrope
Graphics - Luciano Licciardello
Production - Ian Armstrong, Anthony Davidson, Eliza Kelly, Beibhinn Jones
Filming - Mo Kaddem
Trailer - Mo Kaddem
Music & Sound - Ross Mac Mahon
Transport - Andrew Burke 
Set Construction - Justin Kinahan



 

Breathing Corpses was performed once locally to a limited audience at the Moat Theatre Naas, before a two-week run at the Projects Arts Center in Temple Bar, Dublin. 

Watch a trailer for Breathing Corpses below:

Safe Home Youth Exchange
12th-18th July 2009, Newbridge

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Excerpt from the Leinster Leader, July 2009

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'Safe Home' was a Crooked House Theatre Company organised, and Kildare Youth Theatre led youth exchange set in Newbridge on the theme of using theatre methods in Ireland for social change. The first in a trilogy of related youth exchanges, Safe Home specifically looked at raising awareness of violence against women, particularly within the sphere of domestic and intimate relationships. 

Featuring 22 participants aged 18-30 from Ireland and Italy, the project aimed to explore methods in which the participants could raise awareness of what was explored during the week, and how they could use what they learned to change their attitudes and the attitudes of those around them, as well as how to support initiatives which combat the theme.

The idea behind the project was fuelled by previous work Kildare Youth Theatre had done in the yearly Human Rights Youth Theatre Festival (see below), whose dates happen to coincide perfectly with the festival. The HRYTF frequently looks at topics of social importance, such as violence against women. In this way, participants of the HRYTF could share their experiences with the other nationalities, who in turn can explore and educate on the prevalence and type of violence women face in their respective countries.

Throughout the week, participants from all three countries intermingled through exercises which furthered their awareness and desire for advocacy on the topic of violence against women.  On the first night, for example, the participants watched a film featuring Indian theatre company Jana Sanskriti, featuring a piece about forced marriages and related domestic violence - this screening was followed by a detailed discussion. 

Other activities involved talks featuring Amnesty International and a local women's refuge service, Teach Tearman, a cultural trip to Dublin featuring a performance from gender-equality focused Smashing Times Theatre Company, and lessons on how to research material and directly engage and encourage audience members in politically-motivated theatre. The project culminated in performances based on what was learned in the week, featuring post-show discussions with audience members. 

Safe Home featured the participation of Kildare Youth Theatre and Associazione Culturale Tri-boo of Firenze, Italy. It was supported by the European Union's 'Youth in Action' Programme, as well as Léargas. 

Watch an edited 17-minute documentary on 'Safe Home' below:

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Wyeth Human Rights Youth Theatre Festival 2009
7th-11th July 2009, Newbridge

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"Theatre has only one subject: justice.
-Edward Bond

A yearly festival, in 2009 the Wyeth Human Rights Youth Theatre Festival focused on the theme of the above quote - Edward Bond's idea that all theatre should concern itself with matters of social justice.

Featuring the participation of 75 young actors from Celbridge Youth Theatre, Prosperous Youth Theatre, Griese Youth Theatre, Independent Youth Theatre of Ranelagh and of course Kildare Youth Theatre, the week-long festival studied this theme through a week of discussions and workshops, taking place all across Newbridge in a number of venues. 

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Throughout the week, participants had the opportunity to take place in varying types of workshops such as Hip-Hop, Improvisation, Vocal Work and Stage Combat. These morning workshops were paired with more intensive afternoon devising workshops.

Evenings were filled with talks and discussions on politically and socially engaged topics. Some of these included speakers from the Kildare Traveller Action community, who discussed the discriminaiton their community experience frequently, and Amnesty International, who discussed in detail the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Other speakers included the charity Trócaire and Michael Garry homeless refuge. 

The week culminated in four short performances, one from each of the aforementioned devising workshops. 

The Improv group, led by Mary Duffin, produced an insightful piece on capitalism's manipulation on modern society and how consumerist we have become.

The movement group, led by Kildare Youth Theatre Facilitators Keith Burke

and Ross MacMahon performed a piece while donned with masks to highlight how commonplace domestic violence is.

The vocal group, lead by Eimear Crehan and Keith Millar, also of Kildare Youth Theatre, performed Wyeth - The Musical! - a powerfully haunting musical set on themes of domestic violence and family power dynamics.

Finally, the stage combat group, led by Peter Hussey used quotes from historical theatre tp get a textured and subtle piece on gender roles, especially those of men in modern society. 

The 7th Human Rights Youth Theatre Festival was graciously supported by Wyeth (now Pfizer), and was an initiative of Crooked House Theatre Company.

Scroll through to see featured articles on the Festival in the local media:

The Leinster Leader
The Leinster Leader

The Leinster Leader

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The Kildare Nationalist
The Kildare Nationalist

The Kildare Nationalist

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The Nationalist
The Nationalist

The Nationalist

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The Leinster Leader
The Leinster Leader

The Leinster Leader

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Click through to see images from the Festival:

Stage Combat Workshop
Stage Combat Workshop

Stage Combat Workshop

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Jennifer McDonagh from the Kildare Traveller Awareness Community
Jennifer McDonagh from the Kildare Traveller Awareness Community

Jennifer McDonagh from the Kildare Traveller Awareness Community

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Performance from the Improv Group, led by Mary Duffin
Performance from the Improv Group, led by Mary Duffin

Performance from the Improv Group, led by Mary Duffin

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Stage Combat Workshop
Stage Combat Workshop

Stage Combat Workshop

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"The confident and skillful performances of the young participants was a testament to the talents and teaching of the facilitators and directors of the festival. [...] Another remarkable feature of the Wyeth festival is the obvious pleasure and satisfaction that the participants take in each other's successes and achievements."
- Julie O'Donohue

NT Connections Festival 2009 
1st-2nd April 2009, St Conleth's School Hall, Newbridge | 20th-21st June 2009, Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin 

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Every year, Kildare Youth Theatre takes part in the National Theatre's Connections Festival. Each year, youth theatres across the UK & Ireland select from 10 specially written brand new plays to perform. After participating companies perform in their local areas, they get to perform in a larger, Connections-ran regional festival. For Kildare Youth Theatre this was the Samuel Beckett Theatre at Trinity College Dublin. The Connections festival then culminates with the best rendition of each play being chosen to perform on the Dorfman Stage in the National Theatre of London. 

Due to the short length of the plays on offer in 2009, Kildare Youth Theatre chose to hold a unique event consisting of three brand new plays performed back to back. 

These plays, each featuring unique casts, were Anthony Nielson's The Séance, Lisa McGee's  The Heights and Davey Anderson's Blackout

Three completely different plays, they ran over a 2 and a half hour period for two nights, in St. Conleth's Primary School's hall.

2009 marked Kildare Youth Theatre seventh collaboration with the National Theatre's Connections Festival and a total of 25 newly performed plays, with each of 2009's three performances being Irish premiers of their respective plays. 

NT Connections - Blackout  
1st-2nd April, St Conleth's School Hall, Newbridge | 20th June, Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin

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(An excerpt from the show's brochure)

The first performance of the three was Davey Anderson's Blackout

"All I can remember is: I could hear screaming. It was like being in a dream but still being awake at the same time. And all I can hear is - please, don't, stop it! And then... I don't know. Next morning, I was in a jail cell. I didnae know how I got there. And I was like that - aw naw, what did I do?" 

A piece written from interviews with a young offender and performed to a pre-recorded soundtrack of the text. Blackout was a physical theatre piece about getting bullied, fighting back, trying to make a name for yourself, turning vicious, doing something stupid, loosing everything then finding your way again. It lasted for 20 minutes, and featured a mixed age group. 

CAST:

Keith Millar
Mary MacDermot
Paul McGuiness
Sarah O'Farrell
Declan Armstrong
Rachel Lally
Sean Kenny

PRODUCTION:

Director: Keith Burke
Sound Engineer: Peter Lee
SFX: Ross MacMahon
Original Soundtrack: Colm Ivers

NT Connections - The Séance
1st-2nd April, St Conleth's School Hall, Newbridge | 21st June, Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin

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CAST:

Ryan - Adam Mulligan
Jar-Jar - Ian Armstrong
Sophie - Beibhinn Jones
Natasha - Yasmin Duffin-O'Keefe
Andy - Ross MacMahon
Mark - Padraigh 'Bill' Scanlon
Phoebe - Sophie Cadogan

The second show of the first night, and the closer for the second night was Anthony Neilson's The Séance

Seven teenagers attempt to contact a dead school friend by means of a séance, but the subtext uncovered over its course is more engaging than any supernatural phenomenon. The Séance is a frank and very funny drama about a group of friends on the cusp of adulthood who are beginning to perceive that life - and love - is finite. 

Played in real-time, it is a play in which nothing really happens, but in which everything changed for good. Neilson's first submission to Connections, the play lasted 40 minutes and was performed by Kildare Youth Theatres most senior and experienced actors, aged between 18-21.

The Séance would later become a staple of the Connections Festival, and was revived by Kildare Youth Theatre in a small production in 2019.

PRODUCTION:

Director: Peter Hussey
Sound Engineer: Ross MacMahon

NT Connections - The Heights
1st-2nd April, St Conleth's School Hall, Newbridge | 20th June, Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin

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Closing the first night, and the middle show of the second night was Lisa McGee's The Heights.

Lillie Lee lives on the Heights estate. Confined to her bedroom by sickness, Lillie feels isolated and abnormal. Her bedroom window is her only connection to the outside world; she obsessively watches her neighbours from it and keeps herself occupied by making up stories about them. An unusual encounter with Dara, another girl from the estate, leads the two teenagers to strike up a firm friendship that may prove to be dangerous.

The Heights touches on what it's like to be different from others. It examines the idea of storytelling and the power of the imagination and looks at how the lines between fact and fiction can often easily become blurred. 

The Heights ran for 50 minutes and featured our youngest group, aged between 14-17. 

CAST:

Dara - Rhianne Fahey 
Jacob - Eoin MacManus 
Lillie Lee - Sophie Ellis
Boyle - Darren Sinnott 
Webb - David Devoy 
Bizzy - Emilee McCarthy / Orla Keenan
The Nice Woman - Jill O'Donnell
Pat - Laura Harte
Matt - Laura Daly
Pat & Matt's Mother - Orla Keenan
Sampson The Shopkeeper - David Devoy
Also Featuring - Bonnie Redville / Caoimhe Barrett

PRODUCTION:

Director: Brenda Donohue

FESTIVAL PRODUCTION:

Lighting: Keith Burke & Vinny Ryan
Rigging: Keith Burke, Rob Mockler, Rico Edmoon & Luciano Licciardello
Photography: Michael Donnell
Poster: Luciano Licciardello

Outreach Scheme 2009   
September 2009-April 2010, Northern Kildare

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'Outreach and Education' has been a long running project of Crooked House which features, primarily, programmes for young people which build confidence, counteract depression and addiction, and help individuals achieve what they themselves wish to achieve in life. The project has collaborated with organisations, partners and clients from all across Leinster and further afield. 

However, the Outreach and Education project generally features programmes which are free of charge, and therefore require funding. 

In 2009, a new Outreach and Education programme occurred from September 2009 until April 2010. In response to the alarmingly high rates of young male suicide in the Kildare area, a new project was formed which aimed to use theatre to enhance skills for living and promote positive mental health. 

The objective was to run workshops with young people across Northern Kildare which:
 

  • developed confidence and aptitude in using drama safely, imaginatively and expressively

  • explored issues of well-being relevant to the participants

  • developed key life-enhancing skills (such as decision making; deferring gratification; using information to make choices; developing independence and learning how to control one’s own life; forming postitive relationships; managing impulsive behaviours; managing conflict; problem solving skills)​

By teaching these skills, and simultaneously providing a free, safe space with which to explore their connection to the theme, a community-wide impact could be felt and invaluable awarness raised on the topic of suicide in Kildare. Much of the work here was influenced by Life Force 2008 (see our 2008 archive).

Outreach and Community was graciously funded in the 2009-2010 season by the HSE's National Lottery Grant Scheme.

Miscellaneous  
A collection of some other significant 2009 moments for KYT

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Having being based in the local Riverbank Arts Center for 8 years, 2009 marked the monumental occasion of Crooked House Theatre Company, and therefore Kildare youth Theatre, having their own space. 

Located about Johnston's Pub at Number 1 Main Street in Newbridge, just across the road from the Riverbank, the new space was named 'The Liffey Studio'. The location offered a new space not only to create new and exciting works, but also a space for Kildare Youth Theatre members to hang out and express themselves. 

The space featured a large open studio for performances featuring up to 50 audience members, a rehearsal room, office, social room and kitchen. 

It is the same space in which Kildare Youth Theatre uses to this day. 

(Excerpt from the Kildare Nationalist, 2009)