Belfast Telegraph

Merlin works his magic in the forest

By Grania McFadden

It’s the holiday fortnight — and it’s not that long ago that anyone looking for entertainment would have searched long and hard to find a theatre open anywhere in Northern Ireland.

But things ain’t what they used to be, and there’s plenty of holiday entertainment lined up for those of you enjoying your annual break.

Tomorrow, there’s even a touch of summer magic to be found in Tollymore Forest Park, Co Down, when Merlin the Magician appears in a wonderful outdoor production for children and their families.

Chapterhouse Theatre Company’s show follows Merlin on his quest for the Holy Grail. Filled with music, dance, comedy and drama, the story is staged in Camelot, which is awaiting the arrival of a new knight.

The show is free (although you’ll have to pay a carparking charge into the forest), so dress for sun and rain, bring a picnic and a rug to sit on, and enjoy watching the magic unravel around you when Merlin and his friends begin their journey at 7pm.

You may want to be doing, rather than watching — so why not head up to the north west, where preparations are well underway to host the first Children’s Summer Arts festival in the Playhouse, Londonderry.

There’s a special programme for children aged 4-6 years old, where teeny tots can discover their artistic side — and for children aged 12-14 years, the Playhouse is staging a Teenage Kicks Visual Arts Fest.

Both events will be running over the last fortnight in July and if you’re interested in booking a place, you’d better get your skates on. Ring the Playhouse on 7126 8027.

While there’s plenty to keep youngsters occupied in Derry, there’s theatrical activity for younger people in Belfast and Lisburn, too, in the annual summer school held by the Ulster Assocation of Youth Drama.

It aims to inspire young people who have a keen interest in theatre, both on-stage and behind the scenes.

The school is hosting a wide range of workshops and classes which are geared towards young people, between the ages of 12 and 25 years — both those with little or no experience, as well as the more advanced theatre and drama participant wishing to further extend their skills and knowledge.

The school kicks with a week-long StageCraft programme which explores how theatre works from behind the scenes. It will teach skills in lighting and sound design, set and costume design, stage-management, pyrotechnics and prop-making.

In August there are Acting DramaWeeks in Belfast and Lisburn consisting of workshops that focus on voice, movement, ensemble, improvisation, script analysis and devising.

For those with ambitions to lead, the DirectingLab is aimed at the next generation of young theatre directors, and will be taken by Belfast’s own Des Kennedy.

To register, telephone UAYD on 9250 9520 or email

Belfast Telegraph


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