'Perhaps theatre could offer something positive in return, a way to process the strangeness and unpredictability of how the world was...' Husband-and-wife team Michèle Forbes and Owen Roe introduce their new immersive theatre adventure for children, Our Little World...


In September 2020 we were approached by Laura McNaughton and Maria Fleming from Exit Pursued by a Bear Productions to create an immersive theatre piece for children. Theatre is a vital part of our lives. We know the power it can have to move an audience and offer a unique and shared experience. Owen had also worked on children's television in the eighties, writing both Pajo’s Junk Box and The Whole Shebang for RTÉ. Always ready to engage, children find it very difficult to be simply passive observers at a live event, and this is fantastic. So, we jumped at the chance.

The theatre piece was to focus on how the pandemic was affecting the mental health of children. Children are seen as resilient, which of course they are, but were still being affected by the anxiety around them, often without having the resources to fully understand what was happening. Then there was the whole area of climate change which couldn’t be ignored, and now the war in Ukraine.

Our Little World: Robbie O'Connor Gillian McCarthy & Michael Glenn Murphy

Perhaps theatre could offer something positive in return, a way to process the strangeness and unpredictability of how the world was.

Our theatre space was Mud Island, a volunteer led community garden in Dublin’s North East Inner City. Once a locality of ill repute, frequented by smugglers and highwaymen – it even gets a mention in James Joyce’s Ulysses – it is now an urban oasis where neighbourliness, biodiversity and sustainability play an equal part. To have such a space for our immersive theatre piece was thrilling.

The aim of Our Little World is to allow children to feel they have agency over their own environment, that they can be part of positive change and not helpless in the face of uncertainty.

Originally planned to run in 2021, the production was halted as more restrictions followed with each successive wave of the pandemic. When, in March 2022, we got the go-ahead, we had to reimagine the staging of the piece again to take the revised Covid guidelines into account.

Now Our Little World is set to run for two weeks from May 9th, directed by innovative theatre maker Louise Lowe, with music, props, costumes, and a cast of fabulous actors.

(L-R) Hazel Clifford, Robbie O'Connor, Gillian McCarthy & Michael Glenn Murphy

And the play itself? Aliens have found themselves stranded in Mud Island garden, and need to get back to their planet. They make friends with a local human but they need more help to get their spaceship working – this is where the audience comes in. On their journey through the garden the children are given tasks to help the aliens get back to their planet. But will the aliens want to? Have they fallen too much in love with planet earth and all the wonderful things it has to offer? And do we as earthlings need to experience that again too?

Ultimately, the aim of Our Little World is to allow children to feel they have agency over their own environment, that they can be part of positive change and not helpless in the face of uncertainty. But we hope the audiences – children and adults alike – will, first and foremost, have fun, something which, over the past couple of years, has been somewhat lacking in all our lives.

Our Little World, an immersive theatre adventure for children (ages 7+) takes place in Mud Island Community Garden, a magical wonderland in Dublin's North Strand - family and school performances will take place from May 6th to May 20th 2022. Find out more here.