Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Mower by Philip Larkin

The Mower
by Philip Larkin

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found  
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,  
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.  
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world  
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence  
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind  
While there is still time.

The final two and a half lines of this poem were quoted by Joseph O'Connor in the Irish Times yesterday. Seems to me to be a pretty good New Year's wish.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A FREE Play!!

Yep. That's right. A free play.

Carmel McKiernan, a speech and drama teacher in Trim, Co Meath, very kindly sent me a copy of this play and suggested that I make it available to speech and drama teachers looking for a suitable play for teenagers.

Here's an extract from her email to me:

'My students performed in their November showcase last week which was a great success.  One of the pieces which was performed on the night was a short scene called Think Twice.  I had written this a while back and thought it would be an excellent piece for my older students (i.e. over 12s) to perform on stage. The piece is mainly about a group of teenagers who have been out at a party and foolishly take a lift home with another teenager who had also been drinking.

'My students gave a wonderful portrayal of these characters and it evoked so many thoughts and discussions throughout the rehearsal process.  The parents and also my younger students who watched the scene on the night were overwhelmed with sadness at the end of the play.  The cast got a standing ovation.  The teenage drink culture is pretty terrifying these days, hopefully planting little seeds like this in the minds of students may help to change their perception of drinking at such a young age.'

Thank you Carmel!

And here it is: Think Twice by Carmel McKiernan

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another Poetry Resource

Browsing the internet this morning looking for a copy of some brilliant poems I heard at an exam a few days ago, I came across this site:


There are 5585 poets represented and most of tham are not THAT old. You can browse by poet and category and the site also has essays and a forum. 

Useful resource - have a look.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Irish Theatre Institute

I've been neglecting this blog. Sorry.

Anyway, just a quickie today. If you have any spare time, have a little browse of the Irish Theatre Institute's website. It's got loads of links to intesesting (and hopefully, useful) theatre-related resources. Its General Manager is Claire O'Neill, qualified speecha nd drama teacher and Secretary of IDAC. I'm sure she wouldn't mind you giving her a buzz if there's something you need to know.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Solos/Monologues for Download at dramabooks.ie

We've just put 7 (yes, SEVEN) of our Solos/Monologues books on dramabooks.ie for downloading. By downloading our books from the site, you get them cheaper, you avoid p&p charges and you get them NOW! Go on. Have a browse.

Solos/Monologues for Downloading

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Junior Play Books for Download from dramabooks.ie

You can save on postage and packing costs by purchasing books for download from dramabooks.ie.

We've knocked a few bob off the cost of downloaded books too, as an extra little treat.

Here's the link to the new ones: Junior Play Books

Here's a link to the full range of books for download: Books for download.

We'll have more on the site soon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


There's a new book of monologues available from dramabooks.ie. 17 newly adapted monologues for young actors and actresses. You'll find a list of the contents on the site.

Here's a link to the book: Monologues

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A New Year Approaches

Sorry. It's been quiet on here but things are mad busy in the office at the moment.

Here are some NEW things for you to have a look at:

dramabooks.ie - a brand new website for the Irish Board's publications. Here you'll find plays, solos, duos, handbooks, books on mime and improvisation, books of teaching exercises and CDs, to mention just a few things. Please have a look. Click on things and see how we can give people far more information online than we can in a paper publication.

Irish Board of Speech and Drama Syllabus 2010 - 2013: Yep. That's not a typo. It's a three-year syllabus. The printed version will be out next week and will be posted to everybody on our extensive mailing list over the next few weeks. Most of the changes we've made are to make it a bit clearer to students and teachers what is required of them. That being said, we've radically overhauled our Musical Theatre syllabus and we've introduced a Diploma in Musical Theatre Performance. If you want a copy and you think you might not be on our list, please email us by clicking here.

On our main website (www.irishboard.ie) you'll also find

  • Entry Forms
  • a list of exam fees for 2010-11
  • free theory books
  • a list of Lyric poems
  • past papers for the Associate Diploma (Teaching) and the Licentiate Diploma 
  • and other useful things to make your life easier.

OK. That's all for now. Bye!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

IDAC Summer School

The IDAC Summer School is coming up soon. 4-5 September 2010 in Ely House, Dublin.

Looks interesting. The director of Boss Grady's Boys (opening in Gaiety on 31/8), Jim Culleton, will give an extended workshop on the production and direction of the play, with assistance from other production staff.

The Summer School programme also includes a visit to the play and (optional) dinner in Bentley's.

(For those who don't know, IDAC is the speech and drama teachers association).

Click here for a link to the relevant page on the IDAC site which contains a link to the Application Form

Sunday, May 30, 2010

TCD Dublin Shakespeare Festival

For those in Dublin (or within easy reach) who like their Shakespeare in bite-sized chunks, have a look at the link below.

The Festival runs from 7 - 12 June, has a range of free events each afternoon and headline shows in the evenings.

Here's the link:  TCD Dublin Shakespeare Festival

(Thanks to Imelda Byrne for alerting me to this)

Friday, April 16, 2010


This week's delight is a selection of mime videos on YouTube. There are several clips of Marcel Marceau and some fascinating ones of Etienne Decroux (termed by some as the Father of Modern Mime).

Here's the clips(from the Irish Board's YouTube channel): YouTube Mime Clips

Here's the Wikipedia entries for Etienne Decroux and Marcel Marceau.  Lots of links from each of these articles for those wishing to explore more.

I'll do another post on mime soon.

Monday, March 29, 2010

10 Top Tips for Theatre Directors

It's been a while. Sorry. I've done a lot of travelling, adjudicating and examining over the last few weeks. It's been very enjoyable though. I've met a lot of teachers, seen lots of confident young people perform, and written hundreds of report sheets. I've seen some of the results of very creative and skillful teaching and some mature and talented performances from very young people.

Anyway. this is more a filler than anything else. It's something I came across on the Guardian website, and here it is:  10 Top Tips for Theatre Directors

Do have a look at the 'Stage' section of the Guardian. Some excellent blogs, news and guides. Here's the general link: Guardian website: Stage

Friday, March 19, 2010


I well remember my Mum's 'costume room'. It was the box room in her house and was piled high with costumes for any solo, duologue or play that she had ever put on or even thought she might put on sometime in the future. She had made and/or customised many of the costumes herself. I'm sure there are many such costume rooms in existance throughout the country. Time passes and I think that many speech and drama teachers now buy costumes for their productions.

At our recent drama teachers' workshop in Limerick, Mary McCoy-Rudden, during her session on putting on plays with children, referred to a company in Britain called IDS. IDS stands for International Dance Supplies but they supply, according to Mary and others, a wide range of durable, washable and, most importantly, reasonably-priced costumes to suit most productions. She said that they are also very reliable, easy to deal with and send costumes well-packed and promptly. (I know this sounds like an ad but it's not!)

I've just been on to IDS to see how to access the catalogue. A very helpful woman called Jan told me the following:

As IDS is a wholesale company, any body wishing to purchase from them needs to register their school/ academy/ group name with IDS (they won't sell to individuals). Once this has been done, IDS will give you a password which you can use to view the full catalogue on-line and make purchases (you can also purchase by phone). Once registered they will also send you a hard copy of the catalogue and email you with updates and special offers. There is no minimum spend, by the way. They say that they understand that many drama groups are small.

So here are the contact details:

IDS, Harlequin House, Forde Court, NEWTON ABBOT, Devon, TQ12 4BT, UK

The person I talked to (Jan) gave me her direct line and said that anyone reading this who is interested in registering could contact her. So, Jan's number is (from Ireland) 00.44.1626.882206.

The website is www.ids.co.uk

If anyone has other suppliers, please let me know at mail@irishboard.ie

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Poetry For Children

Anyone who teaches speech and drama to children will have heard of Kenn Nesbitt, author of such poems as 'My Hamster Has a Skateboard'.

Well, yesterday I was examining in Killygarry National School in Cavan (nice school, great atmosphere), and the Resource Teacher there, Paula O'Neill, referred me to Kenn Nesbitt's website. I don't remember coming across it before, but I'm glad I know about it now. It's got loads of free poems on it, most of which are more than suitable for classroom, exams and feiseanna.

It's called Poetry4kids.  Have a look: Poetry4kids

Click on the Poems tab at the top of the site for the free stuff.

While you are there, take a look at the Links page. Lots of links there for other childrens poetry sites.

Em ... Happy St Patrick's Day, by the way.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Complicite is a theatre company based in Britain. As well as doing the usual stuff that theatre companies do, Complicite also has an education and resource programme which looks pretty interesting.

Two things stood out for me:

A Workshop on Commedia D'ell Arte.

Some FREE devised drama resources, with loads of exercises for your drama classes: Teacher's Notes on Devising Drama

The 'About Us' page to their website is here: Complicite

(Link thanks to David Farmer: http://www.dramaresource.com/)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Some Wikipedia resources

There's lots of drama-/ theatre-related material on Wikipedia, and while I know that Wikipedia can be a bit unreliable at times, most of the drama stuff looks pretty good.

Here's a few links to get you started:

Theatrical Genres (Remarkably varied material. I spent hours clicking on the links!)

Drama (Ostensibly a potted history of drama [useful for diploma students] but also great for exploring through the huge number of links, especially those on the right hand side of the page in the blue boxes)


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Michael Rosen

OK. I'm on a children's poetry thing here, with Jack Prelutsky a few days ago and now Michael Rosen. Michael Rosen is well known to speech, drama and communications teachers as a talented children's poet and also as an editor of children's poetry books. I found him on Twitter (Michael Rosen's Twitter account) and followed the link to his website (Michael Rosens's website).

His website is definitely worth exploring. You'll find poems, videos and so on. Click on the 'For Adults' and 'Links' tabs and see what you come up with.

I followed the 'For Adults' tab, clicked on 'For Teachers' and came to this site: http://www.childrenslaureate.org.uk/poetry-friendly-classroom which has activities and video tips for teachers working with children. They are aimed at primary school teachers but I'm sure speech and drama teachers will find something useful there.

Browse and enjoy.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jack Prelutsky ...

... has a website. It's http://www.jackprelutsky.com/

So ... click on the artwork, wait for the flash screen to load, click on Grownups and then on Classroom Activites. There's a few ideas for a class or two in the Poetry Activities from Jack's Booklet download.

(It's my birthday today, so I've taken a few hours off. Hope nobody minds. DM)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Irish Theatre Magazine

I was following a link from Facebook today and I came across this publication - Irish Theatre Magazine (click on the link and you'll be taken to the site). It looks pretty useful for anyone interested in theatre, with theatre news, interviews, reviews and a blog.

I've subscribed which means (I think) that an edition will pop into my email inbox each week.

Worth a try I think. One can unsubscribe at any time.

(The link I followed related to Off Plan, a forthcoming play at The Project in Dublin, which is the next play I'm planning to attend. It's based on The Oresteia and is directed by Rachel West. Rachel directed Splendour a few years ago in The Project. One of the most memorable productions I've seen. Imaginative, creative and very thought-provoking. I loved it and I'm looking forward to being challenged by Off Plan.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sligo Feis Ceoil

The Sligo Feis Ceoil will run from 5-8 April this year. The closing date for entries is 26 February. Two of the Irish Board's most experienced examiners are adjudicating: Eileen Fitzgerald and Patricia Reynolds.

Click here for the web page, syllabus and further information.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Accents on stage ...

... interesting article/ blog in the Guardian: here

From my experience examining and adjudicating, I do find that many children and young people, when performing a solo drama piece set, for example, in the US, concentrate so hard on creating and sustaining an accent that it interferes with other aspects of their performance, which suffers as a result.

Most times it's the character, and the content of the drama rather than the location that's important. So why not locate the piece locally, even though it's originally set somewhere else. By simply changing the location to Ireland, the young actor can concentrate on his or her performance and making the character believable, without having worry about the authenticity of her/ his accent.

This is just a personal opinion, not Irish Board policy or anything like that.

I'd welcome views and comments ...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shakespeare: a pocket guide

I bought 'A Pocket Guide to Shakespeare's Plays' by Kenneth McLeish and Stephen Unwin through Amazon.co.uk FOR A PENNY. Yep, that's ONE PENNY STERLING (plus postage of course).

It's great. For each play (and they do them in alphabetical order too) they provide the story of the play, a pen picture of the main characters, a short analysis of the plot and its context, and a history of its performance.

So, if you have a student preparing a Shakespeare monologue for an exam or a feis performance, this will be invaluable for providing some of the character context.

There's a few more going for a penny. Here's the Amazon link: click.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Improvisation: a useful tool

I feel sometimes students need reminding that Improvisation is more than just an activity - it's a useful tool.

In this link - here - from www.backstage.com, some acting teachers speak about how improvisation can be used in character creation.

This will be useful for diploma students too.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stage Make-up

There's a very simple introductory guide to stage make-up on the website of The Stage, a UK-based theatre magazine. You'll find it here.

Here's a link to the eHow series of videos on applying stage make-up: eHow

And here's a link to a quick text guide to stage make-up to children: children

Perhaps of more value, The Stage's piece above contains a link to a publication, available through Amazon, entitled: Stage Make-up: step by step.

Just a quick note about buying through Amazon. Many of the more recent purchases for the Irish Board's resource centre have been bought through Amazon.co.uk. I would rarely buy them directly from Amazon, however. Quite often you'll see, just under the Amazon quoted price, 'Available from these sellers' with a link. Following this link will bring you to other on-line sellers who will quite often have the same book at a much cheaper price. Sometimes, they'll have a second-hand copy available for as little as 1p + postage. I've bought several of these, and the quality has been excellent.

Some of these sellers don't ship to Ireland but those that do usually have 'International delivery available' in their description. Always choose a seller that has a good number of ratings and a high (in the 90%) rating.

As an example, here's the 'other sellers' link for the book mentioned above: link

Don't hesitate to contact me if you want any clarification on how this works ... 01-2164270

Happy New Year

The Irish Board of Speech and Drama wishes you a creative, fun-filled and successful 2010!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


The IDAC AGM and New Year's Lunch has been postponed 'til Sunday 31 January 2010. It's that pesky weather again. Grrr! Brrr!