Playhouse gets creative


Derry woman Stacy Buchannon wants to tread the boards at the Playhouse Theatre in Artillery Street.

Stacy, 33, is a student at the North West Regional College (N.W.R.C.) but in order to gain more experience she attended a Creative Industries open day at the Playhouse.

“This is exactly the type of thing I like coming to,” said Stacy.

“Not only does it give us the chance to ask questions it also gives us the chance to gain considerable practical experience - the Creative Industries workshop is a great idea.”

Over 100 students from colleges and schools right across the city and beyond attended the Creative Industries open day on Tuesday. Students from Foyle College, Limavady High School, Strabane Academy, St Cecilia’s College, St Joseph’s Boys’ School and N.W.R.C. were there.

Before splitting into groups and going off to their respective workshops, the students listened to a presentation by Walk the Plank, the company tasked with delivering the outdoor musical about Colmcille due to take place in the city in June.

“This city has such amazing talent,” said Walk the Plank costume designer Christine Boyle.“It’s through events like today’s open day that we can engage with you, the talent of the city.

“When we put on the Colmcille event we will need 800 volunteers to help us. So whether you are interested in costume design, lighting or prop design you should get in touch.”

Peter McDonald is a sound and light engineer at the Playhouse Theatre.

Peter hosted one of the opening workshops where he took some of the students on a guided tour of the Playhouse’s stage and lighting room.

“It’s great to see so much interest and enthusiasm for the performing arts here today,” said Peter.

“I think when you show students all of the different section of the performing arts they soon realise that there might be a job or a career for them.

“I’ll be showing them how the lighting system works in the Playhouse and what we do when the actors are on stage. It’s great for them because they are able to interact and when it comes to something like the creative industries, practical experience is invaluable.”

Emma Jane Logue is the ArtSkills co-ordinator at the Playhouse Theatre. Emma said Tuesday’s event was a perfect example of how to make the creative industries more accessible to students and younger people.

“This event highlighted just how much interest there is in the creative industries. The Playhouse is delighted to be able to make this more accessible.

“We are giving individuals the invaluable opportunity to try out these career avenues using a practical and hands-on approach.

“We would especially like to acknowledge and thank Owen Crozier from School Employers Connections who assisted with the recruitment for the event.

“The positive feedback from those in attendance was overwhelming with many feeling this was a valuable experience.

“This is something we will run again as we were inundated with requests for more in-depth sessions.”

The Creative Industries day was organised by the ArtSkills team.

ArtSkills offers younger people the chance to improve their employability by taking part in web design, photography, creative writing and stage performing workshops.

J.P. Conaghan completed an ArtSkills course in 2004 but was at Tuesday’s event as a facilitator.

J.P. is an experienced director and spoke to the students about how to work with actors and get the most out of them.

“It’s really fluid here today,” said J.P.

“This is not something that you can easily prepare for because you never know how your audience will react. I have planted a few actors in the crowd and they are going to act out something later on - we will soon see how the young people react.

“There’s real enthusiasm in that room today and it makes me think about the time that I was doing the same thing here.

“These open days are great and if it helps one person find something that they want to do with their life then that has to be seen as a good thing,” he said.

The Creative Industries facilitators were: costume making – Nicky Harley; directing for theatre – JP Conaghan; events management – Aine Mc Carron; lighting and sound techniques – Peter Mc Donald; and makeup for stage – Erin Mc Laughlin

For more information on the Creative Industries and ArtSkills contact Emma Jane Logue on 028 7126 8027