- The Rhythm of Strife
- Tribal Rivals
- Positive Age Workshop season
- The Louth International Theatre Project
- No Change Given
- I ♥ MULLAGHMATT – A community play
- The Crossover Project 2002 – 2007
- Steps 2002
- The Termonfeckin Macra Connection 1998 - 2003
- Unique Dancers
- Drogheda Youth Development
- Taster workshops
- Outreach and research workshops
- Drogheda Samba Festival
An original play
devised, written and performed
by members of St. Brigid’s Drama Society
in association with Upstate Theatre Project
edited and directed by Declan Gorman
What can happen in a town in a week? A migrant man becomes a local hero only to lose everything. A female Garda is plagued by a personal health secret. A priest is the subject of gossip. An unemployed musician gets lucky in love and comes to understand his mother’s grief. A young girl gets lucky in love with the unemployed musician while her feckless father is traumatised by a fire. A free-living hippy girl witnesses the fire and doesn’t care. A fallen aristocrat falls further only to rise again.
In November 2009, Upstate Theatre Project and St. Brigid’s Drama Group agreed to collaborate on a new ‘exploratory’ community drama programme. Out of this has come a new play for 20 performers, based on group improvisation and collective writing.
The play is set in 2010, in a large fictitious town in County Louth, Ireland which has a major regional hospital as well as the usual civic and private buildings and spaces common to all towns. It begins at the local Saturday market and follows the fortunes of seven diverse characters, their families and associates, across various locations, concluding seven days later at the same weekly market.
An original play
devised, written and performed
by members of the Solidarity Project.
Directed by Stephen Murray & Declan Mallon
Can history repeat itself? Are we re-incarnated as a former self to continue making the same mistakes? The young participants of the Solidarity Project have devised an original drama that follows the lives of a people at war with themselves. Mark’s family have relocated from Belfast but can’t seem to fit in or aren’t allowed to fit in. Henry and Charlie travel through time, callous mercenaries who will serve any cause for cash. Sid and her gang terrorise the neighbourhood with their own version of law and order.
Funded by European Union's Peace III Programme as awarded by Louth Peace and Reconciliation Partnership the project was initiated in October 2009 with 25 young participants developing improvisational skills while devising an original show with dance, music and drama. A high energy performance style matched with a dark local humour that mocks humankind’s inability to live with itself.
The play spans the ages to mirror the modern day stories of a divided populace in an all too typical town in Ireland. The modern day council estates are juxtaposed with historical battle sites reflecting the lineage of division. Caricature and character battle it out to speak to the hearts and minds of a new generation.
Laughs, larceny and a love of sorts. A brave new drama from Drogheda’s youngest and finest.
In 2008, Upstate was approached by Positive Age (Cavan/Monaghan) and invited to develop a new drama programme, on an initial pilot basis, over ten weeks in 2009. This series has now concluded and the partners will meet in the Autumn of 2009 to determine how best to proceed.
This project was led by long term Upstate facilitator Tara Jenkins. The ten sessions included improvisation, creating a story, movement, voice, text and a brief introduction to site-specific theatre. Participants used the experience to explore areas of their own interest.
The Journey from Babel
Devised by members of LITP Drogheda
Directed by Declan Gorman and Declan Mallon
Phase 2 of Upstate’s "Louth International Theatre Project" culminated in the week of May 18th 2009 with a promenade performance in the industrial rooms and corridors of an old warehouse in Drogheda. Fifteen local people of eight nationalities presented The Journey from Babel, a series of loosely connected scenes on the theme of journeys and migration. The show ran to capacity and highly appreciative audiences over three nights.
LITP was established in late 2007. Phase I included a six-week pilot workshop series in April/May 2008, and culminated with a short presentation in the grounds of St. Peter’s Church of Ireland. Phase II (Sept 2008 – May 2009) developed from this, leading eventually to The Journey from Babel performance.
A second LITP group was meantime established by Upstate in Dundalk. This group presented scenes from a work in progress (Death of an Exile) at a network event in the D Hotel on 23rd May and enjoyed a shared workshop with the Drogheda participants, facilitated by Tara Jenkins. The finished play was given a workshop reading by the group at the Outcomers Centre in Dundalk in September.
Supported by The Arts Council, The Minister for Integration, Louth County Council, Drogheda Borough Council and Dundalk Town Council.
Written by Colm Maher
Directed by Stephen Murray and Declan Mallon
in association with
Louth Local Partnership and Drogheda Arts Festival
For several months Upstate Local worked with a group of 24 teenagers from various parts of Drogheda to create a unique piece of "drive-by" theatre. Devised by the participants and scripted by playwright Colm Maher this play took place on and off a double decker bus as it drove around a variety of suburban estates where the young people came from.
Described as "a story of life, love and youth in a walled town. Post boom drama through the eyes of the generation who will have to foot the bill", No Change Given captured the mundane and the madness of provincial existence in a mix of revue and gritty realism, performed with honesty and humour by Drogheda’s up and coming talent.
Written and Directed by Declan Gorman, and featuring a cast of 24 people from Monaghan and Louth.
I ♥ Mullaghmatt was based loosely on the recollections of residents of the Mullaghmatt housing estate in Monaghan town. The play deals with the hopes and dreams of new residents arriving in the mid-70s.
The play received 3 performances, two in the local Family Resource Centre and one at the Garage Theatre. The level of community involvement and attendance was exceptional. 46 local people came forward in 2007 to participate in focus group interviews with the author. 14 of the cast, including adults, children and teenagers were drawn from the immediate Mullaghmatt area – none of whom had ever performed before. The remaining 10 were drawn mainly from Upstate’s long-standing community drama networks in Counties Monaghan and Louth.
With the mix in the cast and the diversity of the audience, the play became a real talking point within the wider Monaghan community, addressing unspoken historical and social aspects of the county, from the influence of the Republican movement to the integration of Travellers.
Produced by Teach Na nDaoine Family Resource Centre in association with Upstate Theatre Project. Financed by Border Action and by Monaghan County Council under the Per Cent for Art Scheme.
The Crossover Community Theatre Project was a major Upstate Local venture that commenced in mid-2002. It took place in the counties of Louth, Monaghan, Fermanagh and Tyrone with local activity in several villages, towns and townlands of the four counties. The initial year was devoted to action research examining the viability of a community theatre network. The emphasis was on cross-border, cross-community drama project for the Border region. The network had four adult groups and one youth group with representatives from each of the border counties above. The programme involved residents of the towns and villages coming together locally and at occasional residential events to explore their own creativity, play around with narrative ideas and contribute views towards the longer-term process. Each year the four adult groups devised and performed a play in their own locality. The youth group would also devise a performance annually, the highlight of which was a reworking of A Midsummers Night Dream on Lusty Beg Island in 2007.
The programme was funded by the Cross Border Consortium under the EU Peace II Programe and part financed by the UK and Irish Governments.
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Upstate Local and the tenth anniversary
of the highly regarded Droichead Youth Theatre the two organisations undertook
a collaboration between Drogheda teenagers and residents of Mosney Accommodation
Centre for Asylum Seekers and Refugees, under the title Steps 2002.
The most visible and successful long-term partnership so far has been with the local Termonfeckin branch of Macra na Feirme, which led to two full productions of new community theatre plays, one further short play and a seminal publication of scripts and theoretical writing.
Macra na Feirme is a national organisation which fosters personal and community development among young rural people up to 30 years of age. The partnership with the local branch began in April 1998.
After a series of preliminary workshops dealing with personal confidence-building, creative writing and staging techniques, Macra invited Upstate to commence a more intensive programme. This culminated in May 1999 with performances at Droichead Arts Centre of a play entitled Tunnel of Love, jointly devised and scripted by the Macra members.
The play is set in a fictitious rural village and centres on two families over a two year period, leading up to and including the day of a troublesome wedding. The performance was lively, entertaining and humourous, but was also a courageous exploration of the moral and emotional challenges facing young people in a changing rural society.
The Macra Project was resumed in late 2000 with advanced training for many who had come through the Tunnel of Love, and also bringing new younger members on board. Zoo Station was devised and written over several months in the tiny and sometimes draughty Sandpit community hall and in the more homely environment of John and Lorraine Leech's modern kitchen at their rural Beltichburn home. The resulting play is set over one day in the railway station of a small town, fast transforming into a dormitory satellite of the capital city. Old community values and culture are threatened by new fast-train living. An ordinary grey real-time morning turns into a frantic day of chaos transcending to a symbolic evening as the elderly, retiring station master takes his final leave.
The play was presented locally and then brought to the 2001 Dublin Fringe Festival as part of Upstate's 'interstate conneXions" programme of debate and dialogues in association with City Arts Centre.
The partnership also produced 'High Tide and Green Grass' in 2004. This one act was performed in counties Louth, Meath and Tipperary.
In 2001, the scripts for Tunnel of Love and Zoo Station were published in Way Out in the Country (Upstate 2001), an anthology of community plays. The collection also included Connected, an earlier drama, developed by County Monaghan Macra Arts Club in 1997, in collaboration with Declan Gorman. The anthology contains From Tales from the Tower Blocks to Yarns from the Farms, an essay by Declan Gorman setting out a short personalised history of community theatre in Ireland and also reflecting on aesthetic questions. A documentary account of the process with photo plates is included, written by Declan Mallon. The preface is by Dr. Anna Mc Mullan of the Samuel Beckett Centre for Drama and Theatre Studies, Trinity College, Dublin.
The book is available to purchase from Upstate Theatre Project. For more information On the Way Out in the Country volume, go to the Upstate Highway news page. The essays by Dr. Mc Mullan, Declan Gorman and Declan Mallon will be published in full on our soon-to-come Selected Essays page.
Other partnerships and programmes in the 1998 - 2001 period:
Unique Dancers was a group of young people from the Ballsgrove/Rathmullen area of Drogheda who set up a locally-managed dance initiative in the late 1990's. Upstate Local's role in the partnership included preparing the group for performance; introducing them to the wider community and arts network; introducing them to suitable partners to aid their development; and seeking funding on their behalf.
DYD are a youth service organisation in Drogheda who devote their projects to preventing early school leaving and to assisting young people with learning difficulties. Upstate's Drama Development Officer. sat on the DYD Project Team supporting project workers on the ground. Upstate also provided workshops to DYD as part of :training for volunteers and at the YETS Summer Project and the Greenhills Pre-First-Year Schools Project 1999.
These are once-off or short-series workshops, where the intention is either to introduce a group to the possibilities of drama activity or - where the group already has a tradition of drama work - to explore new avenues and options with them.
Groups in the early years included St. Mary's Youth Club, Drogheda; The Muirhevnamore Cross-Border Project, Dundalk; Greenhills Pre First Year, Drogheda and the North-East Youth Theatre Network (regional network of the National Association for Youth Drama).
Resourcing covers a range of interventions, from providing physical resources and skilled production workers, in areas such as lighting, staging, scaffolding etc. to providing artists or facilitators to work with a group on the development of an ongoing creative project. Groups with whom Upstate Local worked in this way include: Cavan Youth Theatre; Droichead Youth Theatre; Calipo Theatre Company, Drogheda; Community Arts Forum, Drogheda and Rialto Youth Project, Dublin.
An important dimension to Upstate is its policy of maintaining a continuous and integrated link between its local development programmes and its production work. Prior to the writing of the script in 1998, ideas informing Declan Gorman's Hades were developed and explored with Cavan Youth Theatre, Droichead Youth Theatre and members of Monaghan Youth Theatre. The 1999 cross-border tour was accompanied by local community workshops in certain key towns and villages, including Belfast and Clones, County Monaghan and Raphoe, (County Donegal). A similar process was undertaken in the lead up to Epic (2001) with the key on-the-ground group being New Border Generation in Carlingford on the Cooley Peninsula
Upstate's Drama Development Officer sits on the Parade Committee of Drogheda Samba Festival, which is managed under the portfolio of Droichead Arts Centre. Over recent years, Upstate has been central to developing and fundraising for training for local visual artists in the area of street theatre design and animation. (see CAF training under Upstate Learning). The high standards evident in the 2002 Festival Parade, designed by the recently formed Lúnasa artists group, reflect the value of this long-term advocacy and involvement.