This June, The Ark Children’s Cultural Centre and Brightening Air are exploring and sharing children’s experience of lockdown in a number of ways.
At its centre are free live-streamed performances of ‘What Did I Miss?’ by Shaun Dunne, a new theatre show for ages 10-plus offering a window into children’s experiences of the pandemic and the milestones they’ve missed along the way. Meanwhile, a national call out is asking children across Ireland to share what they missed during the pandemic to inform a presentation by members of The Ark Children’s Council to the Joint Committee on Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth.
What Did I Miss? is presented as part of Brightening Air | Coiscéim Coiligh, a nationwide, 10-day season of arts experiences brought to you by the Arts Council. Commissioned and produced by The Ark in association with Dublin Theatre Festival, the production will be streamed live from the intimate theatre space at The Ark in Dublin’s Temple Bar to homes and schools across the country from June 11th-13th.
Written and directed by The Ark Artist-In-Residence, Shaun Dunne, the show tells the story of 13-year-old Kyla, who receives an unexpected visitor as she attempts to throw a graduation party for her old classmates from primary school.
In writing the piece, Shaun was inspired by the children he works with on The Ark Children’s Council, a group of children in fifth and sixth class who give The Ark feedback to inform policy and programming.
“I wanted to take inspiration from our Council’s resilience, adaptability and optimistic nature. I knew Kyla was going to be ambitious, hardworking and willing to take on new challenges, just like the young people we have the pleasure of collaborating with at The Ark. Although it can be tiring making work about pandemic times, it felt really important for us as a company to try and represent something of children’s experiences over the past few years.”
The cast of ‘What Did I Miss?’ features Sarah Morris (winner of The Irish Times Irish Theatre Award 2019 for Best Actress in ‘The Lost O’Casey’) and introduces newcomer and former Children’s Council member Naomi Moonveld-Nkosi as 13-year-old Kyla, a capable and determined girl who discovers she’s not the only one attempting to bridge the divides left by lockdown.
As well as offering a window into a child’s experience of the pandemic through the play, The Ark now wants to hear from children across Ireland about how it was for them. They are inviting children to share what they missed due to lockdown - it could be meeting friends, family, a special event, a milestone in their lives, a landmark date – anything at all that they missed. Their answers will then inform a presentation by members of The Ark Children’s Council to the Joint Committee on Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth which will take place on June 22nd.
Aideen Howard, Director of The Ark said: "For over 25 years The Ark has represented, through creative art experiences, concerns and topics that are important to children and their lives. In What Did I Miss? we are giving theatrical expression to one aspect of the pandemic through a child's eyes.
"While encouraging as many children as possible to watch this free production online, we also want to encourage children to share their own experiences. We are so looking forward to hearing from children about what they missed and doing our part to share this with a wider audience.”
Parents and teachers are invited to submit children’s stories and experiences at ark.ie by Wednesday, June 9th at 4pm. The submissions will then be collated and considered by the Children’s Council with the aim of representing as many different children and experiences as possible in their presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on June 22nd.
Naoise Nunn, Producer of Brightening Air said: "The voices of the children of Ireland are among our most precious and this is a unique opportunity to hear how this world event has impacted on them specifically. We are delighted to play a part in helping them to have their voice heard at this momentous time in our history."
‘What Did I Miss’ by Shaun Dunne streams live from The Ark from June 11th-13th as part of Brightening Air | Coiscéim Coiligh. Tickets are free and advance booking is required. Book online at ark.ie to receive your unique code to access the show.