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Donegal playwright Frank McGuinness launches ‘Environment the Musical’ pack

Frank McGuinness.

Frank McGuinness.

AWARD-winning playwright and poet Frank McGuinness is launching an innovative school environment and music project at the Tullyarvan Mill in Buncrana, this Saturday afternoon, April 19, 2pm.

‘Environment the Musical’ is an educational resource and website and it’s the brainchild of local composer and music educator Annette McNelis. Frank McGuinness says the musical is as ‘clear and powerful as a blast from the Swilly, and a wonderful tonic for every age. A big, beautiful celebration’.

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“Our environment is in our hands, so it’s vital that we protect it for future generations,” says Annette McNelis. “I believe this resource offers the means for passing on this message, in a fun, effective and entertaining manner.”

The pack and website are designed for use by schools, youth and community groups, and theatre and drama groups. “It’s not vital to have a musical background in order to stage this musical. Everything you need is in the pack,” says Annette, “including CDs with backing tracks, incidental music and recordings of the 8 themed songs, a resource booklet with song lyrics, a teaching resource CD, and the script.”

The recordings for the 8 songs bring together some of the region’s top talent. Martin Smyth of Winter Mountain played bass guitar, Seamus Devenny was on drums and percussion, Mark Diver and John McLennan played guitar and Sean McCarron played the saxophone. The singers were Lorna McLaughlin of The Henry Girls, Kate O’Callaghan, Louise Crossan, Siobhan Shiels and Chris Greene.

“The expandable cast list provides roles for 40 children, but roles can easily be doubled-up if you are working with a smaller group,” says Annette. It’s suitable for children aged 8 and up and the whole musical runs for about 40 minutes. However, you can also choose to perform only one or two scenes or just to teach the songs.”

Annette says the musical has already been performed by 3 schools and she is delighted with the feedback from both teachers and pupils. “The children really enjoyed the experience, loved developing new skills and they learned a lot about the environment. A lot of them didn’t realise they could act or sing!”

“As well as teaching children new skills, hands-on creative projects like this can help children gain a better understanding of their own individual gifts and strengths. They also benefit enormously by learning how to perform – it boosts their confidence and teaches them how to work as part of a team with a common goal.”

Annette is passionate about both the environment and teaching music to young people and has spent the past 3 years developing this new resource. She completed the first six songs for the musical in 2007, under a collaboration between Donegal County Council Cultural Services and County Donegal VEC Music Education Partnership, for which writer Joe Brennan wrote the script.

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In this second phase of the project, funded by the Inishowen Development Partnership, Annette has written a new script and two new songs, and has re-arranged and re-written the original six songs.

For more information or to order the pack, go to www.environmentthemusical.ie or email: info@annettemcnelis.ie

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