In May 2015 the Arts Council, in partnership with the National Operatic and Dramatic Association, announced that October 2015 would see the beginning of the Island of Culture legacy project, TheatreFest.
TheatreFest aims to encourage and support writers and composers to try out their new pieces of theatre on the Isle of Man, whilst simultaneously giving local residents a chance to attend world-class performances in iconic Manx venues, such as the Gaiety Theatre. It is hoped that this project will also raise the Isle of Man's reputation in the world of theatre as one of the leading theatre destinations.
TheatreFest will have a different theme each year with TheatreFest 16's being 'Journeys'. This theme is incorporated into the TheatreFest 16 writing initiative which is open not only to writers on the island but also writers from around the world. Selected pieces from this writing initiative will be produced in 2017 for TheatreFest '17. The deadline for entries to this competition is 31st December 2016.
Entries can be sent via email to IoMArtsCouncil@gov.im or posted to the following address:
IOM Arts Council
Isle of Man
Taking place over the weekend of the 23rd/24th/25th September' TheatreFest was back with three brand new performances at the Studio Theatre at Ballakermeen.
On the 23rd September the winner of the TheatreFest '15 playwriting competition Stephen Harper debuted his winning play 'Morning Star'. A period play based around the slave trade in 1848 the piece captures an authentic atmosphere of the time and the harsh reality of slavery but still engages with the audience.
'Megan and Me' a new piece of musical theatre written by David Holland, Kristene Sutcliffe and Lisa Kriesky was performed on the 24th September as part of a double bill with an original devised piece of theatre 'Journeys'. Megan and Me explores the friendship between two women through their entire lives and Journeys was be directed by John Young with the aim of creating an original piece of contemporary work in just one week!
A scene from 'Journeys' directed by John Young
Left to right: Composers Spencer Williams, Stuart Brayson and Director Bev Clark
Local team Stage Door Productions also produced a piece of devised theatre that was based around the theme of slavery. This work was directed by Bev Clark and performed entirely by a Manx cast.
TheatreFest 15 also featured the world premiere of Jimmy Mac, a musical comedy by renowned composer Stuart Brayson who, with Sir Tim Rice, composed From Here to Eternity. Jimmy Mac saw a notorious womaniser being put on trial by four former lovers through a combination of music, comedy and dance.
The festival was also host to new, original musical, For Tonight, written by American composers Shanelle Williams and Spencer Williams along with Whitney Rhodes. For Tonight, an indie-rock/folk musical based in the 1830's, follows Haydon, one of three siblings, as he heads from his small Welsh village to Liverpool following the death of his parents, to find out what he's been missing.
TheatreFest 15 also hosted a puppetry workshop aimed at schoolchildren aged 5 to 12 years. This workshop was run by professional puppeteer and puppetmaker Corina Bona and involved the attendees creating puppets out of newspaper and masking tape, with some outstanding results.
Youngsters enjoy TheatreFest 15 Puppetry Workshop lead by Corina Bona