The Masterclass Project was an initiative of Run of the Mill Theatre to support an ensemble of theatre makers with intellectual disabilities to collaborate with a group of leading Irish artists across a series of Masterclasses in theatre at Castletown House.
Funded through Kildare’s Creative Ireland bursary awards 2019, the project aimed to support members of Run of the Mill Theatre (a Kildare based inclusive theatre collective) in their future practice; to develop new skills across the artform and gain access to areas of theatre practice that they had not previously had the opportunity to encounter. Moreover, the project sought to encourage its visiting, collaborating professional artists towards an understanding of how to share their practice in an inclusive manner and to take forward new understandings about access and inclusion of artists with intellectual disabilities from their experience facilitating across the project.
The project took place across a magical week in July 2019, in the heritage rich surrounds of Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare. Participants were offered 6 Masterclasses across 5 days collaborating with Dance artist Cindy Cummings for a Masterclass in Movement, Mime Artist Lisa Walsh, Lighting Designer Eoin Winning, Stage and Costume Designer Sarah Foley, Playwright Shaun Dunne and Theatre Director Grace Dyas. The project was coordinated by Artistic Director Aisling Byrne, assisted by theatre artist Ursula McGinn. Facilitators and participants were encouraged to incorporate the heritage and architecture of their surrounds into each workshop. Participants had the opportunity to design lights for the Castletown Stables and perform outdoor mime vignettes on the balustrades of the house – to name just a few of the magical encounters that took place across the week.
Participants and facilitators alike reported experiences of great artistic development and enrichment across the week. Participants were exposed to areas of the artform they had never before considered (in particular elements of design) and facilitators were challenged to share their practice in an inclusive manner, that many reported would shape their thinking across future projects. The project was a testament to the lasting power and impact possible when we simply create opportunities for radical creative encounters in our community.