THE ANNUAL Bualadh Bos Children’s Festival kicked off with a joyous splash this week, despite months of uncertainty amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The festival, which has been running since 2013, saw its first instalment this week with ‘Sing Me To The Sea’ at St Gabriel’s hydrotherapy pool in Dooradoyle.
The unique show, which is running for four days this week, is an immersive, multisensory act in which young people and children with complex needs can interact with the performers.
And despite the restrictions imposed on the arts community, not much has changed for Anna Newell’s show, save for the visors and masks which complement their piscine costumes as they splash about and sing with fish puppets in the pool.
After performing more than 100 shows last year, Anna and her team were unsure whether a 2020 tour was possible.
“The very heart of my work for these audiences is that it’s responsive, that it’s bespoke for every child and that it’s utterly flexible in order to create a situation where every child makes their own way through this particular theatre adventure. I’m so excited to connect with my audience again,” Anna said.
Kate Sheehan, fundraising and development with St Gabriel’s, said it was “beautiful” to see the show go ahead this year.
Sing Me To The Sea is one of three live shows as part of the children’s festival. On October 4 at The Belltable, Michael Ford and Bairbre Ni Chaoimh present The Wilde Garden Adventure, which is based on two Oscar Wilde books, The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant. And on October 7, Emma Martin brings Birdboy to the Lime Tree Theatre.
Music Generation Limerick presents a new programme of interactive livestreams for schools featuring the sensational hip-hop star Denise Chaila, award-winning Limerick actor Myles Breen, trad star Zoe Conway, guitarist and singer Sean O’Meara and classical violinist with the ICO Diane Daly.
Branar Téatar have an online puppet workshop, Children’s Books Ireland go online with their book clinics for all book worms, and Jean McGlynn gets creative with Halloween ideas.
Louise Donlon, theatre director with Belltable and Lime Tree, said she was delighted to see the return of the festival, and noted the effect live performance can have on children.
“Even in normal times, the opportunities can be limited enough for children to get to see really good work. And when you do see them watching it, it’s incredible the reaction that they have, and also the effect it has. The amount of people that will tell you they remember, very, very clearly, the very first time they saw live theatre as children. It stays with them forever.”