NI magic theatre company creates online interactive family shows

  • Photo: Cahoots NI artistic director, Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney

    Cahoots NI theatre company is bringing its magic shows online in the hope of maintaining its survival throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The team has created a new show which will see families participate in different slots, to be able to interact online with actors situated in full theatrical settings.

    Artistic director, Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney explained: “The University of Wonder and Imagination will be a full theatrical production, that will see six families enter different themed rooms online and interact with actors.

    “This isn’t performed at home in front of a computer screen, we’ve constructed a socially distanced theatre set, full of all the tricks, wonder and illusions.

    “It’s somewhere in between a journey through Hogwarts and the Crystal Maze. It’s quest led. It’s magical. It’s full of theatrical adventure and it’s live.”

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    The show will have its Northern Ireland premiere as part of this year’s Belfast International Arts Festival running from 22 - 25 October 29 October - 1 November.

    Like the rest of the arts sector, the 19-year-old organisation had to close its doors during lockdown and has lost in excess of £420,000 this year.

    The company was in the middle of numerous different projects when the pandemic hit the UK hard in March.

    Paul said: “Penguins, our co-production with Birmingham Rep, was mid-run in America and still had six weeks left to go but we made the decision in the second week of March that we would have to bring the full company home. 

    “We were also in the middle of development of new work and were about to start a tour in Northern Ireland of production Secrets of Space to local primary schools, which didn’t happen.”

    Paul added that it took the organisation six weeks to sort out the logistics of “firefighting projects that were no longer happening, dealing with venues, cleaning up a tour that got cancelled halfway through and cancelling a tour that was about to start.”

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    Cahoots NI has also been developing a book that it is turning into a stage adaptation hopefully for 2021.

    ‘The Vanishing Elephant’ is in its final stages, being worked on with the original writer Charles Way and costume designer Sabine Dargent as the illustrator.

    Paul concluded: “The arts are there to respond, offering alternative ways to look at the world.

    “My job is to respond to what’s happening in society and to place people from society into uncomfortable, comfortable, interesting, remarkable, fascinating, different worlds so that they can compare their world to that.”

    Find out more about Cahoots NI on their website here.

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    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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