Creative Director Michael Kelly introduces DramaCast - a new Donegal-based initiative designed as a digital study aid for second level students studying drama.


DramaCast has emerged as a silver lining from a pandemic that closed theatres, leaving artists out of work and preventing our students from attending plays and participating in school productions as they should be experienced - live on stage.

The project is a collaboration between An Grianan Theatre and Workhouse Theatre Company, Letterkenny, offering a vital educational resource for students and teachers alike. Filmed theatrical performances from prominent plays on the secondary school curriculum have been produced with pupils' needs at the forefront. The project is designed to identify numerous approaches and prospective questions that pupils will encounter.

Philadelphia, Here I Come!

Online accessibility allows students to engage with prescribed plays, both for the assessment process and to address the impact of theatre closures. The films are available via the An Grianan website and unlike live productions of the past, DramaCast can be viewed repeatedly, allowing students to mine every nuance of the pivotal scenes in relation to character, relationships, themes and language.

Students, parents and teachers can now freely access the films, accompanied by commentary and analysis from theatremakers that will further assist students in their studies. DramaCast can be utilised by teachers in the classroom and by students as they study at home. The material can be viewed as a single video - altenately, the three plays are also available in separate segments.

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The project offered Donegal actors and theatre practitioners - with a strong affiliation to An Grianan Theatre and Workhouse Theatre Company - a unique opportunity to demonstrate their talents and contribute to a piece of theatre that can be a platform for future projects.

Professional actors Patrick McBrearty, Megan Armitage, Troy Devaney, Aoife Lennon and Diarmuid Doherty breathe new life into canonical characters, allowing students a fresh perspective to complement existing film productions. The films offer modern and cutting edge reimaginings of Shakespeare in Hiberno-English explicitly for students, and also for the enjoyment of drama enthusiasts everywhere.

Romeo & Juliet

Two key moments from Macbeth, Philadelphia, Here I Come! and Romeo and Juliet were rehearsed, performed and filmed on the stage of An Grianan. Key moments highlight material that can be used as evidence to support a range of answers and enhance students’ personal responses. Numerous iconic lines are emphasised, allowing students to memorise quotations and present explanations within the context of a pivotal scene and the play’s wider plot.

The intimate duologues between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth either side of the murder of King Duncan provide the first two key moments. Gar O’Donnell’s two scenes of longing with lost love Katie Doogan are selected from Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come!

Finally, the 'balcony scene’ and the dramatic act 3 scene 3 stand-off between Romeo and Friar Laurence are featured for Junior Cycle students’ study of Shakespeare.

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Macbeth and Philadelphia, Here I Come! are both prescribed as a single text and comparative text for Leaving Cert 2023 at both higher and ordinary level. The latter is also prescribed for examination in June 2022. All aspects of assessment are referenced by the commentary and analysis, including higher and ordinary levels.

Romeo and Juliet is the most popular studied drama text at Junior Cycle and is prescribed over the next number of years. We address the range of questions students may face and provide expert directorial analysis from Iarla McGowan.

The pandemic has forced us to reflect and reevaluate: to seek alternative teaching methods, to staging theatre performances and representing the arts for the next generation. DramaCast is an imaginative and innovative departure that will continue to enrich our students’ studies in the years ahead.

Find out more about DramaCast here.