Reaching The Heights

As their latest production, The Heights, comes to The Whale on Thursday, March 16th, we asked Bray’s acclaimed Mr Sands Youth Theatre to put a little shape on their rise and rise. And where the heck that name came from.

The Mr Sands name came about after an intense brainstorming and research session. We discovered that some theatres had some very interesting ways of keeping emergencies secret from the audience; if there was an announcement asking for Mr Sands to come backstage, it meant that there was a fire that needed dealing with!

As for our origins, Mr Sands Youth Theatre was founded in 2017 by Emer Casey and a group of talented, budding young actors with an already-burning passion for drama in all its forms.

Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength; from winning awards in the Bray One-Act Festival, to having our members perform in the Abbey Theatre for the National Youth Theatre. We’ve even had members travel as far away as Albania to represent us in international youth drama projects!

While the founding members have grown up and moved on, our new group has been doing an amazing job forging their own identity for the youth theatre, under the watchful eye of Artistic Director Martha Breen and Managing Director Casey Hallahan.

In the last two years alone, since the lockdown lifted, we’ve devised an original play (World In My eyes) that was performed outdoors in summer 2021, two short films(Midlands Murders and Riley), plus an audio drama (My Mother Is A Murderer) as part of The Transmission, a Creative Europe-funded youth audio drama initiative.

Says founding member Sam Ferris, “”My time in Mr Sands will forever stick with me as one of the most influential periods of my life as a theatre-maker. Having been there since the start, I’m so proud to see how the youth theatre has grown and flourished, and coming back now as an assistant facilitator makes me so excited, seeing how the atmosphere of acceptance, passion, and dedication is still strong among the group.

“I’m so excited to see where Mr Sands goes next, and I hope that I can be a part of nurturing the next generation of youth theatre members and fostering the uplifting spirit for theatre-making for which Mr Sands is known. ”

Our production of Lisa McGee’s The Heights is part of the National Theatre Connections, a festival we have participated in before, but much of this group is taking part for the very first time.

They will be making their theatre debut at The Whale Theatre, and could not be more excited!

Mr Sands operates an Open Door policy, open to all young people in secondary school. We meet every Wednesday at 7pm at the Wolfe Tone Centre, just off the Vevay Road. We are a proud affiliate of Youth Theatre Ireland.

Paul Byrne


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