KB (and friends, can you spot them?) with members of the Ulster Youth Theatre...nifty t-shirts, wot?
News from UAYD
Update August 2006 on the Ken-Friends Bursaries:
National Youth Theatre, London: Workshop Course
(2 week residential programme in London)

Jennifer Lowry, aged 19 from Bangor, Co. Down
Niall McAleer, aged 17 from Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
Cliodhna McCorley, aged 15 from Antrim, Co. Antrim
Ashton Montgomery, aged 16 from Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim
Michael O'Neill, aged 17 from Portstewart, Co. Londonderry

National Youth Theatre, London: Production & Technical Course
(3 week residential programme in London)

Stephanie McKervill, aged 18 from Ballymena, Co. Antrim

Youth Music Theatre (UK): Persona (10 day residential programme in Belfast)
Ryan McParland, aged 15 from Newry, Co. Down
Chris Ko, aged 17 from Portstewart

Youth Music Theatre (UK): Girl in the Ashes (10 day residential programme in Belfast)
Steven Millar, aged 17 from Coleraine, Co. Londonderry
Niamh McGowan, aged 16 from Lisburn, Co. Antrim

Update October 2005:
"As always we have been delighted to receive your donation which has helped 9 very deserving young people to further their training and develop their theatre skills. This has been a difficult year so far for UAYD as we unexpectedly had a 25% cut in our main grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and this has put extreme pressure on us to seek other ways of covering our core costs and publications. The Ken-Friends continued support towards the bursaries and our performing arts training is of great comfort in difficult times."    Naomi Conway, UAYD Director
Update August 2005 on the Ken-Friends Bursaries:
[Click on the bursary winners names to read their reports.]
The amount set aside and now spent on the bursaries is £1,000. The panel met and offered bursaries to 10 of the 12 people who applied. The successful applicants are now in the midst of their courses and some will not finish until mid-September. The bursaries continue to be popular and highly sought after.

National Youth Theatre, London (Acting courses)
Clare McMahon
Jennifer Logan
Claire Flynn
Ruth Jennings

National Youth Theatre, London (Technical Theatre courses)
Erinne Ferguson
Stephanie McKervill

London Academy of Music & Drama (Physical Theatre Programme)
Ruth McKee

Youth Music Theatre (Musical Theatre courses in Belfast and Edinburgh)
Claire Hughes
Alana Kerr
Sinead Gribben

Ken-Friends Bursary Scheme is also a sponsor of this year's UAYD production of "Red Noses".


From 17th - 20th August 2005
Ticketline: 028 9038 1081
Preview: Wednesday 17th at 8pm
Matinee: Saturday 20th at 2pm
Tickets from £6

Artistic Director, John White, explains what audiences can expect from this Monty Python meets 'Little Britain' style play:

"Set in 1348, the Bubonic Plague is on the rampage throughout Europe. It's a punishment from God. More pain and suffering is needed. A wandering monk decides that laughter is what God wants. Recruiting a motley bunch of misfits, he leads his merry band through France offering redemption through bad jokes and laughter. On the way they encounter a cynical and neurotic Pope Clement VI, Archbishops, Flagellants, Body Snatchers, Merchants and Peasants who all react differently to 'God's Zanies'.

There are over 32 speaking parts in the play, managed by 26 actors. This is an epic production and will provide audiences with a very rare opportunity to see a play which is a great exemplar of all the theatrical disciplines. With clowning, dance, music, theatrical effects, period costume, sound design and stage design there is a vibrancy on-stage which is reinforced by jokes, bawdry and laughter."

John continues: "On a more serious note the play does address the very topical issue of man's inhumanity to man and looks at the role of human kindness in a world of chaos."

Some scenes may not be suitable for those under 14 years For further information contact the Ulster Association of Youth Drama on 028 9250 9520

A news article about UAYD:

The Ballymena Times, September 2004


THE search for another Ballymena actor to emulate the feats of Hollywood superstar Liam Neeson is steadily taking shape at one local school.

Five Ballymena Academy pupils were recently selected to take part in drama performances at both Ulster and National youth level. The budding thespians honed the skills they have learned at the school’s acclaimed Drama Department with practical performances on stage.

Three pupils – Maria Jackson, Kathy Clarke and Peter Coulter – gained places on workshops run by the Ulster Association of Youth Drama, whose patron is Hollywood actor Kenneth Branagh. All three agreed that the workshops enabled them to gain valuable experience and explore many facets of drama which were completely new to them.

Year 14 pupil Nikita Strange was one of only 29 students from Northern Ireland who took to the stage with the Ulster Youth Theatre in its highly-acclaimed production of Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The performances took place at the Marketplace Theatre, Armagh, and Belfast’s Waterfront Hall and have given Nikita’s interest in treading the boards new impetus. "It was a great boost to work with professionals who have worked in the West End and it was also my first experience of working with set designers, choreographers and musicians. I’m currently applying to a few drama colleges and hopefully I might be able to get a few auditions as well," she added.

Year 13 student Martin Jackson went one step further, becoming only the second Academy pupil to become a member of the National Youth Theatre in London, being selected from more than 3,500 youths who auditioned across the UK. "I filled in an application form from the website and after an audition in Belfast, I spent two weeks in London," explained Martin, who lists the likes of Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro among his favourite actors. "Acting is something I would consider as a career but there are plenty of people who go through drama school and then struggle to find work so that is something to be mindful of. "I plan to audition for one of the NYT’s performances in the summer and take it from there," he added.

Academy Head of Drama paid tribute to the pupils’ exploits, adding: "The Drama Department has really taken off in recent years and I am really proud of what these pupils have achieved. "It gives them and the school kudos and it also helps develop their skills further as well as giving them a sense of achievement."

The would-be actors will also be busy in the months ahead preparing for the Academy Players’ 2004 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Click here for earlier news from UAYD

Where's Waldo....erm... Kenneth?"