Tenderfoot, The Civic’s Apprentice Theatre programme for Transition Year Students, as launched a ‘Writing For Theatre Programme’ with eighteen second level schools in South County Dublin. Through a series of blogs we’ll ‘Meet the Mentors’. First up it’s Fionn Foley.

‘The last few months have been a challenging time for writers to put pen to paper. Not just because of the ebbs and flows of inertia and tedium that creep into day-to-day life, but also in no small part to do with the uncertainty that pervades all pursuits artistic in light of the pandemic. No better time you might say then, to coax a group of talented young writers off the cliff of creative endeavour in celebration of that gloriously terrifying impulse to do a thing.

When I heard that the Tenderfoot programme was to go ahead in email format this year, I was glad to still have the opportunity to engage with young writers at a wholly unique moment in all of our lives. What surprised me however was how, over the four weeks of developing new full-length plays, each writer’s individual voice really transcended both the madness of the moment and the formality of e-correspondence. I worked with writers with vivid and relentless imagination, acerbic and satirical wit, charming naturalism, ‘brave’ formatting, jaw-dropping profanity and above all, an enduring enthusiasm. In the end, my coaxing was redundant, looking down to find my merry band of mentorees abseiling down the aforementioned cliff.

Topics and themes within my group included something called the ‘coronavirus’ (?) , a kidnapping-turned-love story, a satire of a dysfunctional school, a play that takes place exclusively through social media platforms and stories of friendship, addiction, family and self-discovery. Each voice had it’s own style and integrity from the get-go, but some that went on a genuinely transformative journey that I hope, and believe will stand to those writers.

My own practice is based largely within music, comedy, satire and laboured nonsense. There was an abundance of such things within the work submitted but as the programme continued I was delighted to see the appearance of equally exiting features within the writing; a deft use of the monologue form, complex and considered directions for staging and lighting, soundtracks and scores (including an original) and a nationally televised debate on the pros and cons of Febreeze (thankfully, not as a medicament for anything).

I leave this year’s Tenderfoot programme with a sense of excitement and optimism that I wish I could share with all those writers and creatives that are struggling with the present moment. The writers I have worked with are sharp, perceptive and boundless in their imaginations- with this programme hopefully acting as a set of proverbial jump-leads for each of their future undertakings, whatever they be. I hope that this programme has instilled in them the confidence that all who observe their work should take from them’.

Thanks Fionn, can’t wait to read the finished plays!


Fund out More about the NEW Tenderfoot Writing Hubs HERE 

With thanks to the continued support of Arts Council Ireland, South Dublin County Council and Creative Ireland.