A Dramatic Retelling Of The Voyage Of The Orphans

Ennis, Ireland (PressExposure) December 03, 2009 -- ‘Voyage of the Orphans’, a film and three-act play will have its premiere screening and staging on Friday December 11th at the Honey Fitz Theatre in Lough Gur.

Work on the project commenced in March 2009 and involved over 50 members of the local community in east Limerick, including 28 full-time members of the Youth Theatre. The idea to explore migration developed out of a series of workshops, facilitated by drama and arts specialist Fiona Quinn.

Ms. Quinn explained: “Arising out of the workshops was an interest and keenness among the Youth Theatre members to make a film and devise a play on the theme of migration. We successfully applied for a Youth Initiative Grant under the European Youth in Action scheme to help them research and produce the film and three-act play.”

She continued: “Looking at our own history of forced migration, the County Limerick Youth Theatre focused on the poignant true story of the 4,000 Irish famine orphans who were transported from the Irish workhouses to Australia during the Great Famine. This story of our past helped draw parallels between our nation’s experience of migration and the plight of migrants today. Youth Theatre members undertook detailed historical research with the help of their coach, Kate Hammond.’

According to Ms. Hammond: “We looked at modern migration issues and the way that Irish society and the Irish media receive immigrants arriving here. This information was used as a springboard for improvisations at the weekly youth theatre workshops and slowly common characters and themes began to emerge”.

Shot on location in County Limerick during August, the ten-minute film documents how three young sisters ended up as orphans in a Workhouse before two of them were transported to Australia. The social and economic differences between the landed gentry and tenant farmer families of the time are starkly demonstrated in the production. The film featured a local cast, ranging in age from 4 to 92 years old. The oldest member of the cast sadly passed away in recent weeks.

The three-act play, which was scripted by Fiona Quinn, covers the same story. Act I opens and plays out with the girls in the workhouse, Act II portrays life on board the transportation ship, and Act III documents the girls’ arrival and reception in Australia where they were sent to work as indentured servants.

As part of the research on migration, members of the County Limerick Youth Theatre were also involved in visiting exhibitions on migration and democracy, inviting speakers to talk at the Honey Fitz venue and performing short plays commissioned by Amnesty International on the topics of racism and migration.

17-year-old Siobhan McCormack, from Herbertstown in County Limerick, noted that the project was very different to anything she or her fellow Youth Theatre members had ever done before. She explained: “For us, this was a complete eye opening experience. We devised a play about the orphan girls of famine Ireland who travelled to Australia for a better life but were often met with racism and prejudice. These things are still happening today and are as bad as they ever were. People come to our country from poor countries or countries who are experiencing civil war and who have no choice but to leave.”

The County Limerick Youth Theatre was originally founded 14 years ago and is an initiative of Limerick County Council.

Speaking ahead of next week’s premiere, County Limerick Arts Officer Joan Mc Kernan stated: “Rehearsals are underway, costumes are being made, songs and dances learned, and the set has been painted. We know that it will be an enjoyable night for all with humour and sorrow, laughter and tears showing the triumph of the human spirit over adversity’.

Ms. Mc Kernan said that the Youth Theatre had grown from strength to strength since its establishment fourteen years ago. “We established the Honey Fitz branch in Lough Gur four years ago to allow young people living in a rural isolated area direct access to the arts. There are now 28 full time members of the youth theatre aged between 13 -18 years old. We are always open to new members”, she concluded.

‘Voyage of the Orphans’ is showing at The Honey Fitz Theatre, Lough Gur, Co. Limerick from 11th – 13th December 2009 at 7.30pm. Tickets €10/€5 concessions. Booking on 061 385 386

For more on the County Limerick Youth Theatre contact the Limerick County Council Arts Office on 061 496 498 / 496 300


Notes To Editor: - High resolution images relating to this story may be downloaded from [http://www.dunphyprimages.com] - Fiona Quinn, Arts & Drama Facilitator ON 086 8246915 AND Joan Mac Kernan, Limerick County Arts Officer (061 -496498/496300) are available for interview and further comment - For further information please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy PR on 086-8534900 or media@dunphypr.com

Dunphy Public Relations Connolly, Ennis, Co Clare, IRELAND (Tel) 00353-868534900; (Fax) 00353-6839692; (Skype) dunphypr; (Email) media@dunphypr.com [http://www.dunphypr.com;] [http://www.dunphyprimages.com;] http://www.twitter.com/dunphypr

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Press Release Submitted On: December 03, 2009 at 10:03 am
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