Creative Associate Aisling Byrne
Creative Schools is an initiative that aims to put the arts and creativity at the heart of the lives of children and young people. In my work as a Creative Associate; I facilitate schools on this journey; supporting them to develop and implement plans that will enrich their school community through creativity.
From the outset of my work with Prosperous National School, both the children and the teachers were enthusiastic about developing possibilities through drama across the school. Teachers were keen to introduce creative teaching methods to their classrooms
whilst the young people- the most important participants in our consultation process- were bursting with enthusiasm to invite in outside artists and practitioners; to create exciting encounters and an injection of theatricality. Who doesn’t remember
that childhood excitement of ‘the circus coming to town’ — a break from the norm in the busy school day?
What is really unique about the Creative Schools model, however, is that it offers schools the opportunity and resources to think outside the box when it comes to traditional models of artist-in-school engagement. Whilst visiting theatre-in-education
productions can create impactful and meaningful encounters with creativity for a school community, I was interested to consider the possibilities for something more than a ‘once off’ performance.
I approached Bombinate, an emerging children’s theatre company whose work I had encountered across critically acclaimed runs of productions like Half Light and Susie and the Story Shredder. At the time they were embarking on the development
of a new piece of work for young audiences, then called LUNA, that would explore the ritual of bedtime, and the things that can make it difficult for children to get to sleep.
The voice of the child is central to the Creative School’s framework and I began to consider the possibility that this ‘making’ stage, could present an even more meaningful juncture for artist in school engagement to take place. One that would allow the
children’s input to inform the direction of the work itself. After all who knows of the trials and tribulations of bedtime better than children themselves?
Thanks to both the school and the company’s generosity of spirit and willingness to try something new, we embarked on an exciting, and mutually enriching collaboration.
Across a period of 2 days in March 2019, Ursula Mcginn and Mollie Molumby of Bombinate facilitated a series of drama-based workshops with the children from 1st to 3rd class at Prosperous, exploring the theme of Bedtime. They shared their thoughts and
ideas on nighttime worries, woes, and getting to sleep. The company then collaborated with performer and musician John Doran, to develop the piece, heavily informed by the children’s input. The next step was to gather some feedback from their critical
A work-in-development performance was presented to the children in May 2019 who then engaged critically in structured feedback on what they saw. “This was crucial to further shaping the work,” comments Ursula, “and in fact arising from the children’s
suggestion, the entire name of the production was changed to Goodnight Egg.”
What was unique about this project is that the children had the opportunity to not only be passive spectators of the work, but to become creative collaborators in the theatre making process and take pride in the idea that their contributions would have
a direct impact on the finished piece. They had the opportunity to see the work at different stages of its development, gain insight into this process and engage critically through constructive feedback. For the artists, the collaboration not only
shaped the direction of this particular piece, it allowed them to develop a process of making work that puts the child’s voice at its heart, something that has had a “huge impact” on the direction of their future practice.
Goodnight Egg from Bombinate Theatre is due to premiere at the Civic Theatre & Roscommon Arts Centre later this year, funded by the Arts Council of Ireland but not before it makes a triumphant return to Prosperous to earn the seal of approval from their
Aisling is a theatre artist and educator who has worked extensively in the fields of arts and disability, community drama facilitation and socially engaged theatre practice. Aisling is the Artistic Director of both Run of the Mill Theatre, and award-winning theatre collective Talking Shop Ensemble.