Mosney, Ireland ’11

Summer of fun

CWB Ireland usually goes to areas of crisis abroad to bring laughter to children and there is a constant demand for our work. However, CWB Ireland has long had a desire to work in Ireland. We have children in crisis here too. In Spring 2011 Introart very kindly supported Clowns Without Borders Ireland in developing a new project for children in Mosney Accommodation Centre for asylum seekers and refugees.

With funding from Introart CWB Ireland developed a programme to visit Mosney several times over the Summer of 2011.

At the end of April the first performance took place. The team consisted of Will Flanagan, Colm O’Grady and Bryan Quinn, the performers who toured refugee camps Somalia in January 2011. They were joined by Jonathan Gunning replacing Arran Towers who was not available. The show was reworked for a few days in The Loft studio and included some new magic numbers as they were omitted originally due to religious sensitivities to magic in Somalia.

Colm O’Grady reported: “As we walked into the Mosney canteen before starting we were greeted by waves and smiling faces, the kids were thrilled that the clowns were coming to see them. They quickly forgot their shyness and ran up to us asking us questions and playing with us while we sat and ate with them. It seemed as though the show had already begun, we performed finger magic tricks and wetted their appetites for the show. The excitement was palpable.

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Our hearts and red noses went from one joyous number to the next, bringing the kids wildly along with us, moments of hush were few and far between as they were ready and willing to get involved invited or not to the stage. They gasped in wonder at the magic and clapped, cheered and burst out laughing throughout.”

On 24th June the second show took place. On this occasion there were two performances – a show called Higgledy Piggledy and The Lords of Strut. It was raining heavily so both shows took place indoors in a very bright space with many windows. The No Diving signs revealed the past history of the space.

The children trickled in and the show started with a small audience but over the next 10 minutes the audience grew to a sizable number. They thoroughly enjoyed Higgledy Piggledy, a show which is aimed at a younger audience and tells the story of three big pigs with great imagination. The children specially the part where 3 children were invited to participate in the show. They donned wigs and pig noses and the other children shrieked with laughter.

The Lords of Strut, an acrobat team from Cork Circus, thrilled the children with their performance which was delivered with panache, attitude and skill.

On 4th August Your Manʼs Puppets had the children more or less focused sitting in their seats for 45 minutes. It wasn’t the usual Clowns Without Borders show where there is high energy slapstick but the children got great reward for listening attentively. Despite a raft of electricity problems before we began there were some lovely puppetry tricks which the younger children and the adults enjoyed especially.

On 9th August Mr. H went to Mosney to present his street show. This is a 30-40 min show normally delivered without words. On this occasion, he had to adapt slightly as the children and their leaders came in bits and pieces and the show begins as soon as the first child makes contact. This introduction entailed some silly finger magic and exercises to keep the youngsters amused until they had all arrived.

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It was great that some of the leaders sat in the crowd amongst the kids as
it always helps if they get rowdy, but on this occasion, apart from a little bit of creeping forward in the front the kids were very well behaved and clapped and cheered and most importantly, laughed, in all the right places.

They really enjoyed the acrobatic elements of the show, and afterwards they mobbed Mr. H and inspected all of the props, amazed to find that the cigar boxes were not magnetised. They demanded to see more magic tricks, and a small group of the youngest ones insisted on helping escort Mr. H with his props back to his van. For himself, Mr. H’s favourite moment was eliciting a big laugh from a group of teenage boys who had that laconic, affectedly bored attitude of teenage boys the world over and the fact that the gardeners and handymen took time out of their schedule to watch the show.

Summer of Fun was brought to a stunning close with the skills and showmanship of Passepartout Circus Arts and Street Theatre. “Embrace the Fire” is their latest creation. It is a spectacular fire show which was performed outdoors (it didn’t rain!) in the dark.

The children were eager to be involved from the beginning making much of the drums which are part of the act. The artists laughingly agreed that they were calling out the audience.

Due to the nature of the show the children had to remain behind a barrier and three of the older teenagers from Mosney did an excellent job in keeping them there.

The show involved Will, Guillaume and Petra who , elegantly costumed, undertook fire juggling, fire hoops and fire poi. Sparks flew everywhere and the children gasped in amazement. It was a great success.

And so ended the Summer of Fun in Mosney.

The project was administered by Clowns Without Borders Ireland. Artists very willingly gave of their time free of charge and their expenses were mostly covered by a grant from Introart. Funding of €1,500 was promised and the project costed €2,300 in all. The remainder of the funding was funded by CWB Ireland.

The administrator of Mosney, Pat McKenna, enjoyed every show and would very much welcome a repeat in 2012.

Margot Doherty
Administrator CWB Ireland.

Mosney, Ireland ’11