Ian McElhinney

Ian was born in Belfast. He was a pupil at Friends' School, Lisburn. He continued his studies at Edinburgh University - M A (Sociology) 1971 and at Brandeis University, Boston - MFA (Theatre Arts) 1974. He taught at Goole Grammar School, Yorkshire until 1978. He began his acting career then, working initially with Interplay in Coleraine and subsequently at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Ian has worked as an actor now for the last forty years and as a director intermittently over the last 35 years. He has performed in theatres locally, throughout the Republic of Ireland and in England Canada and America. He has directed in those same locations and also in Japan, Sweden and Iceland. As an actor he has been nominated twice for a Harvey's award, and received an EMA award. As a director he has been nominated for an Irish Times and for a Tony award. He also received a Canadian Dora award. Ian has appeared many times on UK and Irish and American TV. He is best known internationally for Game of Thrones and Krypton. He has appeared in many films, the most high profile being Rogue One - Star Wars.


Why Theatre for Young Audiences?

The focus of theatre is to free the imagination not just of those who contribute but also of the audience. Encouraging us to think outside of the box, to be aware of worlds, ways of thinking, creeds other than our own is vitally important. Storytelling of all kinds is highly significant in today's world, and theatre is its most vivid expression. The immediacy of the live experience makes it more likely to resonate, to leave an impression over time. Working in a theatrical context develops that ability to think creatively, encourages a willingness to take risks without fear of censure, rather with positive reinforcement, enhances confidence in oneself, in working collaboratively with others, in accommodating differing points of view and in discovering the bravery to stand in front of others and express oneself. If exposed to theatre at a young age, people will carry the magic of it and their appreciation of it throughout their lives. That experience will greatly enrich their lives and temper their humanity.


Brenda Palmer

Brenda Winter-Palmer began her acting career at the Lyric Theatre Belfast in 1979 in Once a Catholic. In the 1980s she was a founder member of Charabanc, the internationally successful Woman’s Theatre Collective, playing roles in Lay Up Your Ends and Oul Delf and False Teeth.

Brenda has a distinguished back catalogue of roles in Theatre, television, film and radio. She has worked with companies all over Ireland, in London, Scotland and on tour to the Soviet Union and the USA. She has always managed to balance her performing work with her activity as a Theatre director, playwright, Theatre manager and, laterally, as a Theatre academic.

In 1988 she founded, and was the first Artistic Director of Belfast’s longest established Educational Theatre Company: Replay. Whilst at Replay she wrote numerous scripts for the company and for BBC Radio and Television.  In 2005 she undertook a practice as research doctoral study at Queen’s University Belfast in Drama Studies and lectured there until 2016. Since leaving Queen’s she has continued with her career as a writer. Her First World War play Medal in the Drawer (2014), has earned critical acclaim and enjoyed popular success.  Her new play Floral Nights which focuses on the Irish Showband’s phenomena of the 1960s, is currently in production with Karma Theatre Company.


Why Theatre for Young Audiences?

A healthy society pays attention to the hearts, minds and well-being of its citizens. History might suggest that a thriving cultural sector is essential to the intellectual, emotional, spiritual and even physical health of human beings. The live arts enhance the hazardous and often frustrating condition of being alive. They help us make sense of our worlds. They make us more human. But Art, particularly the collaborative art of theatre making, does not thrive of its own volition. Cultural richness does not happen in a vacuum. It needs to be nurtured. It needs to be instigated, initiated and handed on so that from an early age our children, as participants and audiences, begin to value live theatre’s potential to make life more entertaining, more beautiful, more ambiguous and more compassionate. This is what Theatre for Young People sets out to do. This is why it must continue.

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