Dramability Looks Ahead As Theatre in Residence at Down Arts Centre
A new partnership has been created in the Down Arts Centre as is joins up with Dramability.
Newry Mourne and Down District Council and community-based drama group Dramability are celebrating a new partnership on the Down Arts Centre stage.
Dramability, founded over 30 years ago and run entirely by volunteers, is now Theatre in Residence at the centre for 2023/24.
The main aim of the group is the inclusion of people with disabilities in their local community.
To this end they strive to ensure that at any one time, more than half of the membership is made up of people with a disability which impacts significantly on their lives.
While the primary activity of Dramability is the staging of annual summer shows and pantomimes, they have also produced two silent movies.
In addition, they have also linked with County Down Rural Community Network to provide short drama and quiz sessions for several senior citizen groups and visited local primary schools to work with children on drama and disability awareness issues.
Currently the group are busy rehearsing for their latest production of ‘Over the Rainbow’ at Down Arts Centre to show later this month.
Dramability was approved for the position of Theatre in Residence at a recent meeting of Council, during which Ceramic designer Áine McKenna was also reappointed for a second year as Artist in Residence at Down Arts Centre.
The Council agreed in September 2022 to develop an Artist in Residence Programme in Down Arts Centre.
A similar scheme had run in the Legacy Down Council and its revival for Newry Mourne and Down District Council links in with its Arts, Culture and Heritage Strategy for 2022-27.
Bette Liddell, Chair of Dramability, said: “Dramability has a well-established relationship with Down Arts Centre, built during our 32 years delivering drama programmes to mixed-ability groups.
“We have benefitted from the accessible spaces for rehearsal and performances and their incredibly helpful, creative and collaborative staff.
“This new chapter will bring increased opportunities for us, allowing us to develop our arts based programmes and widen our reach within the community.
“We have great plans including a sing-along family Summer Show in June and a Christmas pantomime. We are also introducing a new venture.
“This summer we will be launching our pop-up musical theatre themed café — Stages Café — where you will not only be served coffee and buns but also enjoy performances from our singing waiters!”
Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Valerie Harte said: “The Council is delighted to support Dramability with the position of Theatre in Residence in Down Arts Centre.
“This is a community group renowned for making drama accessible to all, especially to those with disabilities.
“I also congratulate Aine McKenna on her reappointment as Artist in Residence. It is fantastic to see Down Arts Centre full of activity from a wide range of artists.
“Newry Mourne and Down District Council is committed to providing access to arts opportunities, which can dramatically improve health and well-being, counter inequalities and increase social engagement.”
With one show already sold out, Dramability is hosting a special preview performance of Over the Rainbow on Saturday 17 June at 2.30pm, with a drinks reception to celebrate its new residency. Tickets are £5.
For booking details and information on limited opening days, Dramability can be contacted via: