Treading the boards was not an option with playhouses and acting academies shuttered during the Covid lockdown but local theatre company Brassneck Youth Theatre has premiered a dramatic new way to keep its young members engaged. 

Director Alison McCrudden says the Arts Council emergency funding meant the financially-stretched West Belfast theatre company could initiate a new programme for its sheltering-at-home starlets. 

"We have about 40 of our 80 young members taking part from their homes via Zoom," says Alison, "and we consider that quite the achievement. Staying in touch has never been more important and we're over the moon at the engagement and creativity we are witnessing."

Funding for the venture came in part from a Covid relief fund established by Community Foundation NI. "In fact, we have enough funding to continue throughout the summer," says Alison.

The budding thespians are given acting tasks to carry out as 'homework'. "For example, we might ask them to do a piece as a news reporter and that means they have to involve their parents or siblings. St Mary's University College was a home-from-home for us but now we are finding out that even with the college closed, we can ensure the show really does go on."

Alison doesn't see a return to the theatre for Brassneck until March 2021. "But in the meantime, we are bringing our productions right into your home via Facebook and other digital platforms. Indeed, our next virtual production will be John Connors' 'Ireland's Call' which will be broadcast from his home to your home during the August Féile."