Tinderbox are thrilled to partner with Powerstone and DU Dance on ‘Little Stranger’, a three-day development workshop, taking place in Ranfurly House Arts Centre, Dungannon, next month.


A 3-day workshop in Dungannon, focused on a child migrant’s experience
Co-producers: Powerstone, Tinderbox & DU Dance
Date: 15 to 17 February 2020
Venue: Ranfurly House Arts Centre, Dungannon

The worldwide issue of migration, as experienced by a small child, is the subject of a proposed new dance theatre performance piece, which goes into development next month.

Three highly experienced Northern Ireland creatives will come together in February to host an extended workshop at Ranfurly House Arts Centre in Dungannon.

Writer Jane Coyle (Powerstone), director Patrick J O’Reilly (Tinderbox) and choreographer Sheena Kelly (DU Dance) will join forces to begin preparatory work on the piece, which is entitled Little Stranger.

They will be working with the young members of Sutemos and Suteminis dance groups. DU Dance set up the first group in the County Tyrone town in 2011. From the onset, its artistic ethos was based around intercultural dance. Picking up on its success, a younger group was subsequently formed, bringing the age range of the combined membership to 8 to 18 years.

Their participants have come to Northern Ireland from many different countries and cultural backgrounds. Some witnessed severe hardship in their native lands and arrived into a country, where everything was, at first, strange and unsettling. Many did not speak English but their involvement in dance has been instrumental in transforming their lives and improving their social interaction and self-confidence.

The original concept for Little Stranger emerged from a chance encounter on a Paris street:
“I was in Paris on one of the coldest nights of last winter,” recalls Coyle. “In a street near the Arc de Triomphe I saw, huddled together on the pavement, a refugee family, father, mother and two children. I stopped to speak with them for a few minutes.

“As I said my goodbyes, the little girl put out her hand, with a smile that could have lit up the city. I can still feel her small, warm hand, dry with dirt from the street. I think of her often. This piece has been conceived for her and for children like her, who desperately need the support and understanding of privileged countries like ours.”

Through the language of dance and physical theatre, the wordless, abstract narrative will translate the experience of a child pitched into a foreign city, engulfed by bureaucracy and different languages and cultures. The artistic aim is to create a dramatic sense of scale, setting a tiny, helpless person against a huge official system.

The young dancers will be encouraged to contribute ideas based on their own backgrounds and unique personal experiences. They will form the cornerstones for the creation of what is intended to be a powerful piece of dance theatre.

Patrick J O’Reilly, artistic director of Tinderbox, trained at the prestigious École Jacques Le Coq in Paris, a drama school renowned for its brand of physical theatre. He will bring to the project his own innovative performance style and European-inspired theatrical vision.

Dance artist Sheena Kelly, who forged her internationally successful career through DU Dance, has been the driving force behind these two groups in her home town of Dungannon. With her inside knowledge of the community and her long connection to the young dancers, she is ideally placed to encourage and inspire them.

Funding has come from the Community Relations Council, which previously supported Powerstone’s productions of The Suitcase and The Lantern Man.

“The Community Relations Council is funding the Little Stranger project through our Community Relations and Cultural Diversity Small Grant Scheme” says Paul Jordan, CRC’s director of funding and development.

“The investment is intended to increase understanding of cultural backgrounds, and support migrants and refugees in integrating into communities across Northern Ireland”.

Powerstone Entertainment DU Dance