2015 was a year when Derry’s Playhouse pushed boundaries, and took bigger risks to increase its cultural and creative offerings. The Artillery Street theatre continued its commitment to increase opportunities for people to engage with the arts- to deliver creative, innovative and accessible Arts, education and peace-building programmes in the face of continuing challenges facing the whole Arts sector in Northern Ireland.This meant new interactive theatre ventures, a new fundraising ball, the first every Playhouse Christmas show, a brand new corporate patrons scheme, and more unforgettable legacy productions.
A major new 2015 legacy commission about The Siege of Derry, ‘Walking to the Ark’ by Carlo Gébler, the eldest son of writing aristocracy, Ernest nest Gébler and Edna O’Brien, opened a The Playhouse in May. In the brand new piece, Gébler explored the horrible choices wars force individuals to make.
The Playhouse was also delighted to announce the return of two much loved Playhouse productions Grimm Tales for Kids’ at Halloween, and a special tour of ‘Josef Locke- A Grand Adventure’ by Felicity McCall to The Millennium Forum and Lyric Theatre Belfast in October and November.
The Playhouse was also delighted to announce live screenings of National Theatre and Branagh Theatre performances for its audiences. The theatre is now one of a handful of Northern Irish venues screening National Theatre Live and Branagh Theatre Live, a ground-breaking initiative to broadcast productions from the London stage to cinema screens worldwide.
Two brand new interactive theatre ventures ended the year of theatrical treats, The legendary ‘Tinseltown Christmas Ball’ and Santa’s Enchanted Christmas Land! ‘Tinseltown Christmas Ball’, featuring Doris Day, Billie Holiday, Josef Locke and Ella Fitzgerald, brought audiences back to the Golden Age of Hollywood with a magical night. The theatre reached its fundraising target, which will go a long way to helping The playhouse continue its work delivering creative, innovative and accessible arts, theatre and education to the community.
Santa then came to visit The Playhouse for a very exciting week in December for an interactive Christmas experience designed for children.
The Playhouse Applause Club, offering audiences and supporters behind the scenes access to discussion, performance, music and art has grown from strength to strength. Local businesses came on board, offering invaluable generosity and support as corporate patrons.
The important work carried out through The Playhouse’s Education and Outreach Programme expanded and developed throughout the year of culture, creativity and community engagement. Hundreds of students gained an accredited qualification through accredited programmes, facilitated throughout the city and across the island of Ireland.
With the aim of Opening the Doors to Creativity, The Playhouse continued to run a large selection of socially engaged arts programmes, providing opportunities, training, guidance and experience for all types of artistic individuals and creative communities, including work in partnership with RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, Rossdowney House, and Foyle Disability Resource Centre.
Street Talk, a cross community project involving young people who come together to address the impact crime has on the community, created a powerful short film which will be used as an educational tool to warn young people about the impact of crime.