Monday 25 September 2017

'Magical things happen when you put people from different disciplines into a room together'

Ceol Connected’s ‘The Quiet Tree’, which is part of the line-up at Tradoodle
Ceol Connected’s ‘The Quiet Tree’, which is part of the line-up at Tradoodle

Celine Naughton

Thomas Johnston is the artistic director of Tradoodle, a new traditional arts festival for children taking place in Co Monaghan from October 24 to 28.

This is designed to encourage children to connect with Irish music, folklore and other forms of artistic heritage.

The line-up includes Ceol Connected's 'The Quiet Tree', a mixture of traditional music, puppetry and dance; Fiona Kelleher's lullabies 'I Am a Little Boat'; live performances with high-energy band Moxie; sean-nós dancing for early years with Sibéal Davitt; exhibitions of Finn Harper's portrait work; online tin-whistle lessons and lots more.

As part of the programme, Tradoodle Festival will shortly announce a call for its inaugural 'Sí Beag, Sí Mór' artist residency. Sí Beag, Sí Mór aims to bring together three artists from different disciplines, who'll be given three days to create a new artistic work for children.

They will then showcase the new piece to people involved in the youth sector.

"One of those selected will be a traditional Irish artist, whether a sean nós singer, musician or dancer," says Mr Johnston.

"The others can be from any creative background - puppetry, theatre, scriptwriting, animation or anything else.

"As a musician myself - I play pipes and whistles - I've collaborated with theatre-makers, actors and lighting designers, and I can tell you, magical things happen when you put people from different disciplines into a room together.

"It's a sharing of ideas, exploring new things and seeing what emerges when you bring together traditional and other art forms."

The Sí Beag, Sí Mór initiative is inspired by Galway-based Branar's Tiny Shows, in which Mr Johnston (inset above) participated as an artist-in-residence.

"It was a wonderful collaboration, which led to a production called 'The Far Field,' a show that brings to life the music, traditions and folklore of Co Monaghan to a young audience," he says. "It toured in May and will be performed at Tradoodle in October."

Check out tradoodle.ie and social media @tradoodlefest for further details.

Irish Independent

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