Oakgrove Integrated PS get down for drama

Oakgrove PS P6 students Caitlin Murray and Holly Hagan with Noelle McAlinden (Culture Company) and artist Eaman Craig.  (0706JB104)
Oakgrove PS P6 students Caitlin Murray and Holly Hagan with Noelle McAlinden (Culture Company) and artist Eaman Craig. (0706JB104)

It was more like ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ than a primary school assembly hall but everyone recognised ‘Gollum’.

Primary six pupils at Oakgrove Integrated P.S. have spent the best part of the last two months exploring the performing arts and drama with a local artist.

The project is funded by the City of Culture Company and is called the ‘Artists In School’ programme.

Local artist, Eaman Craig a.k.a. ‘Wile Man’ started visiting the school back in March and on Thursday he helped the school children to stage a showpiece which documented all of the material the pupils had worked on over the last while.

“This project is happening in schools all over Derry but I must have done something right because the school wanted me to work with the kids,” said Eaman happily.

“The whole point of this project is to encourage young children to make use of their imagination because I think, as adults, it’s something that we can lose touch with.

“Young children have such amazing imaginations and it’s through projects like this one that we can see what kind of things they are thinking up,” said Eaman.

Eaman is an experienced youth worker but said working with the children at Oakgrove Integrated P.S. was by far the most rewarding experience he has had to date.

“The children here are a pleasure to work with and the teachers have been a great help too.

“Today is all about getting the young people to perform in front of an audience.

“The first act on stage will see a group of young children perform impressions - hopefully everyone will get them,” he smiled.

“Other performances will see the kids singing and acting - it’ll be great fun.”

Noelle McAlinden from the City of Culture Company placed 25 artists in schools all over Derry and said she hoped the project would leave a lasting legacy.

“We wanted to do something that tied in with the national curriculum and what better way to get children thinking about the performing arts than to get them working with a local artist in their respective schools.

“The project has been very popular so far and I would hope that it would continue to be felt long after 2013 has been and gone,” she said.

Ten year-old Ben Duffy was one of the first school children to take to the stage. Ben decided to impersonate the character ‘Gollum’ from J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

“I have to get up on stage and say ‘my precious’. I hope everyone knows who I am trying to impersonate.

“I have really enjoyed this project and working with Eaman has been brilliant.

“Eaman is really cool and he really knows how to speak to young people - we have had so much fun.”

Ms. Eileen Barber , the school’s Creative Arts Co-ordinator said she hoped to see the project return again next year.

“I think if the children are enjoying themselves then the project is a success.

“Perhaps next year we could look at staging the project as part of our in house extra-curricular activities,” he said.