Tenderfoot – Taking Students To The Stage

We, the Transition Year students of Collinstown Community College have a lot going on to keep us busy. This year we’ve gone on a whole range of trips and different programmes. Just last week there was a trip to Donadea Forest and this week a visit to The Laughter Lounge. There are a whole range of different programmes to get involved in such as Gaisce (The President’s Award), Press, Inklinks and Jigsaw. This brings us to Tenderfoot.

So what is Tenderfoot, and is it any different to the other programmes? Well yes and no.

Just like all the other programmes Transition Year students will do this year – Tenderfoot opens up a large channel to communicate and work with other pupils from different schools. It is a big commitment (just like the other programmes) and it is about taking us out of our comfort zone (just as many trips and workshops this year have proven to do so). However, at its core, it’s something entirely different.

Tenderfoot is a theatre programme aimed at Transition Year students located at The Civic Theatre in Tallaght. In my group there were about fifty different students from schools around Tallaght and Clondalkin. Eighteen of us are writers (including me) and the rest are broken up into Actors, Lighting and Sound Crew, Stage Management, Costume Design and Camera Crew.

An introduction to the programme comes by way of Veronica Coburn, the programme director – an award winning writer (World Gold Medal) and a playwright herself (Irish Playwrights Guild). I remember the first interaction we all had with her and it was hilarious. It was quite funny to see all of us, now seniors, jump up and mime actions like we were in First Year again. Even those who had no real interest in taking part in Tenderfoot came away with wide grins and smiles. Then the application forms were handed out and, hesitantly, I applied for a place in writing. Thankfully I did, because I would’ve been missing out on a great opportunity to make friends, grow and learn the inner workings of theatre.

Every morning we have to arrive at The Civic Theatre at 10.00 am. We then do a session broken into two parts up until 4 pm. This includes having talks with our mentors. Speaking of mentors, it definitely consists of people who know their stuff. Davey Kelleher has worked as a freelance director and producer across London and Dublin and is an associate director of Quite Nice Theatre. Gavin Kostick has won a number of awards himself (Irish Times Theatre, The Stewart Parker Trust). He is also the Literary Officer of Fishamble Theatre Company and works with new writers to produce fresh new work; and this is only naming a few!

On the first day all fifty of us gathered in the theatre and talked about the plays and how it would work. The plan is that the student writer will be working with the writers, Gavin, Davey and Veronica from October up until November. Four or five plays may be chosen for production, and then TY students from the different schools partaking in the programme will be invited to come and watch the finished plays.

I think the great thing about Tenderfoot is that no one is left behind. Oh, you’re not an actor – that’s fine! You could be a writer and maybe explore costume design. You might not be good at any of those things either, that’s still ok – you could take part behind the scenes too. Stage Management, Sound and Lights. There’s something for everyone to try!

Being a part of Tenderfoot means being part of a non-judgemental atmosphere. Every morning we partake in different exercises that leave us all looking very funny and that’s ok, we can have a laugh together.

There’s a very important message though, that Tenderfoot really drives home: Teamwork. The exercises we do and games we play- are all in an effort to build our teamwork. “Theatre is all about teamwork. It needs to work as a unit to be successful.” The lights, the sound, the actors and the writers – everyone, from crew to cast all have to put in the same amount of work to pull off a successful play.

This quote is not only true to Tenderfoot but also to what is yet to come in the future. It is a perfect fit for the Transition Year module because of that.

I’ve learned so many new things about theatre and playwriting, I’ve also made some great new friends and I’m still not done yet. The plays are soon to be picked and I have no doubt that it will be a big event!

Victory Luke – TY Press