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Voyage of the Orphans – International Youth Theatre





Limerick Youth hit the International Stage

‘Voyage of the Orphans’ – International Youth Theatre – Last week the International Youth Theatre founded in Limerick last year by the Friars’ Gate Theatre and hosted by Scoil Carmel Secondary school are embarked on their second play and second national tour in just nine months! The youth theatre has had extraordinary success since its foundation last September, being invited by The Irish Refugee Centre to perform in Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin last Easter, by the National Famine Commemoration Festival to perform at the Culturann Sweeney and by Biondekbuehne Youth Theatre of Austria to create a piece of street theatre in Vienna this summer. The International Youth Theatre are unique in that they are a group of young people of secondary school age who come from all parts of the world and are proud to call Limerick home. They have received funding from The European Commission to create a theatre project called Youth for Diversity and last week performed a play about the famine written by the Co. LYT and supported by Limerick County Arts office called, The Voyage of the Orphans.  The play tells the story of the 4,000 Irish famine orphans that were transported from the workhouses of Ireland to Australia by the British Government between 1848 and 1850.  The first act introduces the orphans in the workhouse, the second act shows them aboard the ship and the highs and lows of the voyage and the third explores their adjustment to life in the Australian colony. “It really makes you think about how sad it is to have to leave your own country and live somewhere else,” says youth theatre member Seán Hammond, but adds, “but it makes you laugh too!”  When asked what made him laugh he explained, “parts of the play are really funny but we are always laughing at youth theatre anyway because even though it’s hard work we all get on together and have fun.” The play has over 100 costumes and is the youth theatre’s first period costume play.  Schools coming to see the play were offered a free drama workshop to accompany the play as it ties in to National curriculum history, geography and SPHE requirements.  As the acting principal of Scoil Carmel, Aine Burke tells me, “we were delighted to host the International Youth Theatre who meet here for workshops every week.  It is a wonderful way to learn.” Fiona Quinn is the youth theatre director tells me, “All young people living in Limerick are welcome to join the youth theatre regardless of ethnic background, education or arts experience. It truly is an innovative, intercultural and inclusive experience for all Limerick young people and they are sharing their vision across Europe.” Contact the Friars’ Gate Theatre for details on how to join the International Youth Theatre at 063 98727 or






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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.

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