Mullingar Arts Centre features in a new documentary series entitled An Ceoldráma (The Musical) that begins on TG4 on Sunday January 12 at 8pm.
The four-part series goes behind the classroom door in four Gaelscoileanna to reveal what it takes to get a school musical on stage in one of the toughest categories of the Féile Scoildrámaíochta (The National Schools Drama Competition).
The national and Leinster finals of the competition are held at Mullingar Arts Centre every year. Mullingar man and former schoolteacher, Seán Mac Aodha, is one of the principal organisers of the Féile Scoildrámaíochta, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.
More than 10,000 pupils from the four corners of Ireland take part in the competition, and Seán, as well as other members of An Cumann Scoildrámaíochta, have worked tirelessly to promote drama in the Irish language in all schools.
Some well-known actors who have performed in the competition in the past include Liam Neeson and Domhnall Gleeson.
Mullingar was chosen as the venue for the Leinster and national finals because of its central location and its 407-seat theatre and extensive facilities. The County Hall was transformed into the Mullingar Arts Centre following major renovations in the 1990s and was officially opened in November 1998. The building was originally built in 1913 on the site of the old gaol.
An Ceoldráma features schoolchildren arriving and performing in the auditorium and the stage is used in the opening sequence of each episode.
The TG4 series features an eclectic mix of candid classroom and rehearsal footage, accomplished (and not-so-accomplished!) musical performances and insightful interviews with stressed teachers, excited students and endlessly supportive parents. It follows one school from each province; Gaelscoil Ultain in Monaghan, Gaelscoil Charraig Uí Leighin in Carrigaline, Cork, Scoil Lorcáin, Monkstown, and Scoil Náisiúnta Cholmcille in Connemara.
Directed by Colm Bairéad (Lorg na gCos, An tÁdh) and produced by Cleona Ní Chrualaoi (Lorg na gCos, The Gathering: Homeward Bound), the series highlights the transformative effect that drama and music can have on the young hearts and minds of this new Irish-speaking generation and the laughter, the play and the pressure that comes with it!
Produced by Inscéal, An Ceoldráma was filmed between January and May 2013 in Westmeath, Dublin, Galway, Monaghan, Donegal and Cork.
An Ceoldráma airs every Sunday night at 8pm for four weeks from January 12 with two repeats.
Episode 1: An Féile Áitiúil, The County Final, Sunday January 12, 8pm (repeat January 14, 12am and January 16, 2pm).
Episode 2: An Féile Áitiúil, The County Final, Sunday January 19, 8pm (repeat January 21, 12am and January 23, 2pm).
Episode 3: Na Féiltí Cúige, The Provincial Finals, Sunday January 26, 8pm (repeat January 28, 12am and January 30, 2pm).
Episode 4: An Féile Náisiúnta, The National Final, Sunday February 2, 8pm (repeat February 4, 12am and February 6, 2pm).