GALLERY: Vivid Performances: twenty years a-growing

Outdoor well-being camps for Donegal's aspiring actors

The six-month interval is almost over, the audience is making its way back to its seats and the curtain is about to rise on the second act of Vivid Performances School of Speech and Drama.

Twenty years ago this month, uber-chic, Emma Porter, who hails from Desertegney, took her first leap of faith, opening her school of speech and drama in Buncrana.

Post-lockdown, she is taking a second, pioneering a new, outdoor well-being camp with co-facilitator, Tommy Mulhern.

Speaking to Donegal Live about the birthday celebrations, Emma said the last two decades had passed in the “blink of an eye”.

As effervescent as ever, Emma said: “It feels like yesterday since I started my first class. I can remember it as clear as day. I had eight lovely little girls in my first drama class in Tullyarvan Mill in Buncrana: Danielle McDaid, Aoife Porter, Marie Clare McLaughlin, Catherine and Caroline McKenna, and Aoife and Niamh Longwill.

“I remember thinking how exciting it was. We even had a little party at the end of the class to mark the occasion because it was something that was not really done in the peninsula before. Drama was always there but it was not really seen as an after school activity, which would help with self-development or confidence building or anything like that. It was the start of something new and something big for the area, which I didn't realise at the time.”

Vivid Performances grew steadily over the following two years and Emma began classes in Drumfries, Muff, Carndonagh, Glengad and Malin Head.

She was also contacted by the HSE to see if she would be interested in coming into various centres around Donegal to work with adults with intellectual disabilities.

Emma added: “My outstanding memories of the past 20 years are the productions we have staged. I loved sitting up late at night making props and sets and when the parents came along and saw their children on the stage for the very first time, performing and acting with such confidence, it felt fantastic.

“There have been many Vivid Performances over the years including, Lion King, the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Oliver, Annie, Beauty and the Beast, Grease, Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Pan and Under the Sea.”

Inculcating children with confidence and empowering adults, including grooms and brides, nervous about public speaking is Emma Porter's raison d'être.

Striving to give her young protégés post-lockdown “normality and structure”, Emma is creatively continuing.

She explained: “Myself and Tommy Mulhern discussed what we could do to help children with their well-being, communication, social skills, confidence for going back to school and something that would get them moving, get them physical again.

“We have come up with a weekly, two-hour long well-being programme, in various locations around Inishowen, including: Buncrana, Desertegney, Clonmany, Carndonagh, Muff and Newtowncunningham, starting next week.

“It will be really good fun and the children will get to socialise again and forget about covid for a little while and all the pressures associated with that as well.

“I am really looking forward to getting back to work again. We are completely prepared so children and parents can feel reassured. And the 20th Birthday celebrations are just postponed, not cancelled. Watch this space,” beamed Emma.

Contact Emma Porter on Facebook: Vivid Performances School of Speech and Drama or www.vividperformances.com.

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