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‘Pat and Plain’ Drama Project wins UK-wide...

23 December 2011

The annual Theatre Awards UK are given by the Theatrical Management Association (TMA) to honour creative excellence and the outstanding work seen on stages throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Lyric Theatre won the Cultural Diversity award for its Pat and Plain project in partnership with the Ulster-Scots Agency.

The Ulster-Scots Agency commissioned the writing of the scripts and then approached the Lyric Theatre to provide the practical expertise to enable Key Stage 2 Primary School children to mount a full production of the play in their own school.


Pat and Plain is a school-based drama project now in its fourth year of delivery. Five scripts have been commissioned from local writer Dan Gordon, each celebrating various elements of the cultural heritage of Northern Ireland with strong Ulster-Scots links including the Harland & Wolff shipyard (The Boat Factory), the linen industry (Kissing The Shuttle), the Belfast Blitz (A Lemonade Bottle For Clabberin’ Hitler) school life in the 1950s (Sit There For The Present), and children being evacuated to the countryside during World War II (Scahldies Up The Chimley).


The sixth and final script, which is currently being developed by Dan Gordon, will be based on the story of the Titanic.  This new play will roll out during 2012, with work beginning in eleven schools in January 2012 and performances taking place during March and April 2012 – to mark the centenary of the ship’s ill fated maiden voyage.


The following schools will take part in the final year of the Ulster-Scots drama project:


·         Avoniel Primary School, Belfast

·         Cavehill Primary School, Glengormley

·         Cranmore Integrated Primary School, Belfast

·         Cumber Claudy Primary School, County Londonderry

·         Dundonald Primary School, Belfast

·         Hardy Memorial Primary School, Richhill, County Armagh

·         Howard Primary School, County Tyrone

·         Maguirebridge Primary School, County Fermanagh

·         Spa Primary School, County Down

·         St. Mary’s Primary School, Kircubbin, County Down

·         Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagain, Belfast (funded by Foras na Gaeilge)


Each of the above participating schools will be given a production grant of £500 and supported by at least 30 hours of advice and practical assistance from professional theatre directors, facilitators and designers. Schools will be encouraged to follow the model of a small theatre company, involving children in all aspects of the production.


Ulster-Scots Agency Chief Executive, Ian Crozier said “Recognition of the project developed by Agency staff and delivered through partnership with the Lyric Theatre and the education sector is a landmark for Ulster-Scots and we look forward to the success of next year’s drama”.


Lyric Theatre Artistic Director Richard Croxford said: “To have one of our projects recognised as the best in the whole of the UK says a great deal about the quality of the Lyric’s education and outreach work. The Lyric doesn’t just put plays on stage. In addition to our weekly Theatre School classes at the Lyric, our Creative Learning programme takes drama-based projects into schools, youth and community groups. We work with hundreds of young people every year and this award is such lovely recognition after what has been an extremely busy time for the Lyric.”


Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “The Lyric has an excellent reputation for working with young people and thanks to public funding, that tradition is set to continue. As principal funder, the Arts Council supports the Lyric to work with local young people via its education and outreach projects. The Creative Learning programme hosts a range of workshops for young people, to enhance their skills and help create the stars of the future.”


Each Pat and Plain script has been developed into a published copy of the play, supplied with a CD of sound effects and originally composed music: a complete package which can then be accessed and produced, free of charge, in any school in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. Email to request copies.