Second Age Theatre Company was established in 1989 by Alan Stanford, Ronan Smith, Brian O’Donoghue and Martin Drury as a response to the demand from Second Level schools for a dedicated production company to present curriculum based texts, especially those of Shakespeare. It was felt by the company founders that something more permanent was required that offered a more complete package to the students. Thereafter Second Age presented regular productions of the major texts for study and in a time frame suited to the study programme of the schools. Second Age
focused on producing Shakespeare and contemporary Irish classics for young audiences with particular emphasis on the plays being studied by Second Level Leaving Certificate students. Between 1989 and 2013 well over half a million second level students gained their first experience of serious professional theatre and of Shakespeare at a Second Age production. In addition, the company built a considerable following among theatre audiences for its productions and was a regular feature of the Irish theatre circuit.
Donal Shiels and Verdant Productions
Donal Shiels has worked in the arts and entertainment industry in Ireland and abroad for more than twenty years as a producer and promoter of theatre, opera, music and dance. In 2011 Donal founded Verdant Productions which has most recently produced Handel’s Agrippina for Irish Youth Opera along with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Northern Ireland Opera which took the award for Best Production at the Tiger Fringe Festival 2015 in September.
Donal also recently produced The Field and Moll by JB Keane, Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan ( The Gaiety Theatre), the world premiere of The Unlucky Cabin Boy by Mike Finn (Lime Tree Theatre Limerick), The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down by Padraic McIntyre ( Olympia Theatre), the world premiere of Anglo The Musical by Paul Howard (Bord Gáis Energy Theatre), Alone It Stands (Irish & UK tour), Guerilla Days in Ireland by Neil Pearson (Olympia Theatre), Rebecca Storm Live (Bord Gáis Energy Theatre),Dreamland by Jim Nolan (Garter Lane, Waterford and Irish tour), My Brilliant Divorce by Geraldine Aron (Irish Tour), 47 Roses and Break A Leg by Peter Sheridan and David McSavage Live ( Olympia Theatre).
Previously Donal managed the China / Ireland Cultural Exchange on behalf of the Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism. This was the largest ever cultural exchange between Ireland and any other country and included all art forms. Donal also spent five years as Chief Executive of St Patrick’s Festival, introducing a range of new arts and cultural events during that period.
Since 2013 Second Age has been dormant until the reins were taken up this year by Donal Shiels and his company, Verdant Productions. The first Second Age production in two years kicked off when King Lear opened at The Helix on October 6th and played to packed houses of Leaving Certificate students from all over the country. The response has been amazing from pupils and teachers alike. This impressive production featured Royal Shakespeare Company actor Christopher Saul in the title role, ably supported by a terrific Irish cast of both newcomers to Second Age and seasoned veterans. Some of the actors returning to Second Age include Irish Times Theatre Award winner for Best Supporting Actor
(Sive at The Abbey) Simon O’Gorman, who appeared in many Second Age productions including playing the title role in Macbeth, Enda Kilroy, Susannah de Wrixon and Jennifer O’Dea. Second Age was also delighted to welcome for their debuts with the company, Elliot Moriarty, Alan Mahon and Liam Heslin along with Sarah Morris who gave audiences not just one great performance but two as she portrayed Lear’s favoured daughter Cordelia as well as appearing as The Fool. Philip Judge, Colm O’Brien, Brendan Hickey and Damien Devaney completed the cast and they along with a very talented design team and a hardworking backstage crew made King Lear and Second Age’s return to The Helix a great experience for all. The feedback from teachers in particular was so positive with inquires coming already about prospective productions. Already Second Age is looking to the future and we are delighted to announce that Hamlet will be presented at The Helix, running from 3-12 February 2016 at The Helix DCU, Glasnevin.
Paul Meade – Director
We are delighted that the director of King Lear, Paul Meade, will direct Hamlet next year. Paul is a very successful director with Gúna Nua Theatre. Having directed the award winning Little Gem by Elaine Murphy & the World premiere of the musical The Unlucky Cabin Boy by Mike Finn.
Verdant Productions is delighted to be resuming the established relationship between Second Age and secondary schools nationwide and continuing it’s belief in providing theatre productions of the highest quality for schools that aim to engage, educate and entertain.