Siamsa Tíre announces that its annual auditions for the National Folk Theatre of Ireland will take place via online submission this year.
What set you on your path in life? For Tralee man John Drummey, the answer to that question is taking part in Siamsa Tíre’s training scheme for children.
“It’s a scheme that teaches children drama, singing, dancing, and music,” says John. “It gave me a love of the stage, music, and performance and I enjoyed it so much that it influenced who I am today, someone who works in broadcasting and journalism and who still retains a love of and involvement in Siamsa, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland.”
John, who is now the general manager of the Kerry Mental Health Association and a broadcaster, first started Irish dancing at the age of four. “I was taught by Patricia Hanafin and loved it,” he says. “My sister Sarah-Jane did too.”
He tried out for Siamsa Tíre aged 11. “My mother saw the ad for the auditions and thought it would be ideal for my sister and me,” says John.
It was and they spent the next three years attending classes in Teach Siamsa Finuge. “On Tuesday nights, we’d have mime with the late great Maurice Curtin, singing with Mary Deady, and music with Anne McAuliffe, with Mrs O’Connor as bean an tí keeping us all under control,” says John. “Wednesday nights were Irish dancing with Jimmy Smith.”
John and Sarah-Jane’s talents meant they were soon asked to join the community cast at Siamsa Tíre. This cast receives extra training and performs on stage at the theatre during the summer season.
He has great memories of that time. “I remember working with Father Pat Ahern, singing songs like ‘Thugamar Féin an Samhradh Linn’, and myself and Donal Morgan performing as two boys who were stealing apples from a tree,” he says.
He went on to be involved with Siamsa Tíre for 26 years. “I enjoyed every moment of it, acting in shows, performing Ding Dong Dederó for Charlie Haughey the night the new theatre was opened, and taking shows on tour to England, Northern Ireland, and Germany. We once performed in the Wembley Conference Centre, which means that I can truthfully saw that I played at Wembley!”
His sister had just as varied an experience. “She joined tours to Australia and Seville and took to the stage so much that she became an actor and then a writer and director who now works in Los Angeles,” he says.
John made great friends during his time with Siamsa Tíre. “I was introduced to so many people from all over Kerry and many of them went on to become lifelong friends,” he says.
If you are aged between 7 and 12 and are interested in Irish music, singing, or dancing or if you are the parent of such a child, you might like to follow in John’s dancing footsteps by auditioning for this year’s intake to the training scheme.
It’s a three-year formal educational training programme where children are trained in Irish dancing, traditional singing, music and drama. Once completed, a second round of auditions take place with a view to becoming a member of the community cast and performing company which requires a further three years of advanced training. This training prepares students to take to the stage with the National Folk Theatre in the annual Festival of Folk summer seasons. Classes take place weekly from October to May.
In response to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, auditions will now also be taking place in person at the theatre.
“If your child can play an instrument or likes Irish dancing, I’d encourage them to audition,” says John. “Being part of Siamsa Tíre gives you a valuable insight into the traditional culture of Ireland and it expands your horizons in all sorts of ways.”
Please link to AUDITIONS for further information.