"Sleekit" [Slee-kit] Meaning: Sly
Drama, Belfast and surrounding areas
The Lyric Theatre, Ulster-Scots Agency and Arts Council of Northern Ireland have recently completed the first phase of a project to deliver the ‘The Boat Factory’. This is the first of a series of six plays commissioned by the Ulster-Scots Agency and written by Dan Gordon called the ‘Pat and Plain’ series. Written for Key Stage 2 pupils, the play is set in the Belfast Shipyard in the late fifties and explores Ulster-Scots social and economic heritage and the Ulster-Scots language.
The project forms part of the Lyric Theatre’s new off-site education programme. Teachers at each of the schools have received professional support from the Lyric Theatre to encourage children to plan and produce a play following the model of a professional theatre company. This has been structured either as an after-school activity or a stimulating framework through which to deliver the curriculum.
A total of six primary schools in the Belfast and surrounding area took part in the first phase of the project. The primary schools include Cregagh Primary School, Black Mountain Primary School, Euston Street Primary School, Glengormley Integrated Primary School, Castle Gardens Primary School (Newtownards) and Silverstream Primary School (Greenisland). The final performance in the first phase took place on the evening of Wednesday 8th April at Silverstream Primary School.
Dan Gordon, who attended performances at each primary school commented “The Boat Factory has been a resounding success - when the Ulster-Scots Agency approached me and asked what I would really like to do and I said - 'the same play about the birthplace of the Titanic - in half a dozen schools - over five months - involving hundreds of children and dozens of Teachers' - I never thought we actually could - but we did! - And they liked it so much they've just said 'do you want to do it again' - so with the first play just published and available free to any school - we're getting ready for round two, only this time we're talking about the Linen Industry and the Belfast Blitz and we're going for the even dozen schools!”
Richard Croxford, Artistic Director of the Lyric Theatre commented “We are truly delighted with the success of this project. The feedback from teachers and pupils alike has been so positive! Teachers are thrilled at learning new methodologies for producing theatre with their schools and it has been so inspiring to see the young people’s creativity develop and blossom into the wonderfully different productions of the Boat Factory that we have seen. They have all learnt so much from being part of this project not just about their shared cultural history but about themselves and what they are capable of with a little imagination and confidence. Our sincere thanks to ACNI and the Ulster-Scots Agency for their financial support with this project.”
George Patton, Chief Executive of the Ulster-Scots Agency commented "I am delighted and immensely encouraged at the success of ‘The Boat Factory’ and how the pupils at the various schools so enthusiastically immersed themselves in the project which concentrated and depicted the heritage and culture of Ulster-Scots. Their dedication and interest in the subject of Ulster-Scots industry shone through at all the productions and they are to be highly commended on their performances. I would also like to pay tribute to the dedicated staff at the schools and to our partners the Lyric Theatre and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. A special word of thanks to all the mentors and particularly Dan Gordon, whose writing enabled the young people to bring the drama to life."
He continued “This has been an enjoyable project for everyone involved and we in the Agency look forward to working with the Lyric Theatre and Arts Council of Northern Ireland on future productions of the ‘Pat and Plain’ series.”
Adding her support, Gilly Campbell, Arts Development Officer with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said, “As the principal funder of the Lyric Theatre for decades, the Arts Council is pleased to allocate an additional £15,000 to this new and exciting play as part of the education programme. It is great to see the Lyric moving forward through its educational outreach while the theatre building is closed.
She continued, “We all recognise the importance of promoting creativity and cultural understanding by engaging with young people on a cross-curricular basis. This play will aid in the cultural development of those involved and expand the range of opportunities for young people to participate in and enjoy the arts”.
The Ulster-Scots Agency has produced the script of ‘The Boat Factory’, with an accompanying CD containing all the sound effects and music required to deliver a performance of the play. Download the script: