The Free School, Dead Medium Productions’ new documentary about Ireland’s first ‘Sudbury Valley School’, broadcast this morning on Newstalk. Wicklow Sudbury is an experiment in alternative education, bringing ‘free schooling’ and ‘unschooling’ to Ireland. You can stream the programme above, or download at our podcast link below. It will also be rebroadcasts at 10PM on Saturday 18th November.
Special thanks to all the staff and students at Wicklow Sudbury School, including Aaron, Ciara, Sonja, Isthara, Mia, Kashmira, Rick, Fionn, Ed and Faye; and to the national school students featured at the beginning and end of the programme Sophie, Conor, Emma, Aoibhin, Tadhg, Donal and their parents Clare and Keith; to Joanne Lane who was kind enough to speak to me while visiting Wicklow Sudbury; and to Emer Nowlan of Educate Together, and environmental educator Joesph Campbell.
Think back, what were your least favourite parts of school? Maybe math, maybe physics, maybe you just hated gym. Now imagine a school where you didn’t have to do anything you didn’t want to. A school with no exams, no homework, no classes, not even any teachers. What if I were to tell you that not only does that school exist, it’s right here in Dublin, in a regular semi-d near the cold unfinished boom era monstrosity of the Sandyford industrial estate. This documentary explores a year in the life of Ireland’s most unconventional school, ‘Wicklow Sudbury’. This radical form of schooling has been running in the United States for almost fifty years, but can it work here? We follow the first few months of the fledgling school. Listeners will meet students, staff and parents, and explore what they found lacking in conventional education. In the process we’ll see just what Irish education can learn from The Free School.
Wicklow Sudbury School is an experiment in alternative education, attempting to apply the principles of ‘free schooling’ and ‘unschooling’ in the Irish context. The first ever term has recently begun, and right now the school consists of eighteen students of all ages, learning together.
Free or democratic schools are organised around the principle that students should take a lead in deciding their own educational path. These schools take a radical approach to encouraging free thinking and agency in their students. Free schools offer an alternative to mainstream education. They share an emphasis on child-centered learning: Seeing the learner as an active participant who choses his or her own course of study.
For many Wicklow Sudbury students the mainstream educational system has been a failure. They or their parents haven’t found the education they’re looking for in standardised classes and subject based classes. Instead they’ve chosen a school with no classes, no subject, no homework and no teachers. We follow their first few months in the school and learn how radical education works in Ireland in practice.
Broadcaster: Newstalk 106 – 108fm When: Sunday 12th November at 8AM, repeated at 10PM on Saturday 18th November. Online: Podcast or soundcloud.
The Bee Loud Glade Cabaret is a series of twelve bite-size programmes bringing some of the best of the contemporary Irish spoken word scene to radio. Each episode will showcase one beautifully produced spoken word performance, and one ‘backstage’ interview, featuring emerging & established Irish poets. The series represents an exciting new approach to poetry on radio in Ireland, mixing studio performance, music and soundscapes, to recreate the excitement of the live poetry scene. It will bring poetry as a living spoken form to a new audience, and promote the work of a new generation of emerging and contemporary Irish artists. The Bee Loud Glade will take the word off the page and reimagine it using original music and soundscapes. Created for RTE Lyric FM. Funded by the Broadcast Authority of Ireland with the Television Licence Fee.
The A.R.T of Television is a historical comedy about censorship, set in the early years of Irish TV broadcasting. A time when government and church fought young broadcasters struggling to innovate on the nation’s fledgling television channel. American writer Claude Chabert lands a job on the early Irish soap opera ’Home Farm’. Claude finds himself trapped between the political pressures and rigid censorship of late 1960’s Ireland. Attempting to kill the show, he resorts to improbable storylines rooted in Irish mythology, creating an unexpected hit. Now Claude must balance the demands of crafty civil servants, a meddling church and an unruly cast.
The Muse Unbidden is an exciting one off drama from Roger Gregg, one of Ireland’s most influential radio dramatists. The play, a success on stage at the Collaborations festival in Smock Alley theatre in 2012, follows a group of would-be poets enrolled in a performance poetry workshop led by a charismatic and unconventional teacher. Using music and dream diaries, the participants are cajoled into finding and surrendering to their personal muses. As the workshop progresses they travel a rollicking odyssey of confession and self-revelation, giving voice to their obsessions, desires, wit, pain, and memories. For some their uninhibited self-expression leads to joyous catharsis, for others to grief and loss. The play satirises the world of performance poetry, blending music and poetry to create an original and entertaining programme. This satire on modern poetry and self-discovery, written and directed by Roger Gregg features original musical score performed and recorded by a cast of multi-talented actor-musicians.
The show revolves around the artistic journeys of five students and one teacher: each embodying an archetypical poetry workshop attendee. Mags is confused about her marriage, Liz suffers from anger problems, Hillary believes herself to be next in line for Heaney’s throne, Cathy is experiencing depression, Theo thinks he can change the world. Their identities are in flux during the ten weeks we are shown of their course; as they grow and change and develop through their creations. Peter, the teacher, is passionate to the point of being overzealous. His fear and under-qualification to deal with people’s emotional trauma is something all teachers can relate to.
The students each struggle with finding and taming their muse: in most cases, the muse takes the form of their desires and demons – leading them to something they need in their lives which is much greater than a piece of poetry. The Muse Unbidden addresses poetry as therapy. Poetry allows people to work through their conflicts and emotional issues.
Anyone who has attended a poetry workshop or facilitates one, or even maybe only picks up a pen from time to time will find something to relate to. Even listeners who’ve never written before will be lured in with the promise of what might become if they dare reach out to their muse. The Muse Unbidden explodes with energy, and fearlessly touches sore areas of Irish culture’s attitude to canonical poetry in ways that might sting but will leave listeners thinking.
CREDITS: ‘The Muse Unbidden’ was executive produced by Gareth Stack, writing / direction by Roger Gregg, recording by Colette Kinsella. The cast were Morgan Jones, Tiernan Kearns, Angel Hannigan, Sinead Fox, Katie McCann, Karen Ardiff and Roger Gregg. Music by Roger Gregg.
Funded by the Broadcast Authority of Ireland with the television license fee.
Dead Medium Productions Presents ‘The A.R.T of Television’!
It’s winter 1968, the long hangover after the Summer of Love. A.R.T is Ireland’s finest, and indeed only television station. But the nations flagship soap ‘Home Farm’ is failing as viewers frog march towards the satanic protestant seduction of the BBC. American ad man Claude Chabert is hired to turn the show around. With help from TV chaplain father Terry O’Mahony and feminist firebrand Maureen Masterson can Claude raise the ratings? Or will he fall prey to the machinations of sinister Controller of television Carvel Kiddler? Find out in The A.R.T of Television, a totally made up and completely fictional, not true at all, not even a little bit historical comedy about censorship, stupidity and Irish television. Coming to Phoenix FM and Soundcloud soon!
Dead Medium Productions history
Dead Medium Productions, founded in 2009, is an independent producer of drama and documentary. We have released numerous radio and podcast series. We have produced programmes for Newstalk, RTE Lyric FM, Radiomade, Dublin City FM, and Near FM. Our previous series include ‘Choices’ a surreal comedy about mental health, ‘Any Other Dublin’ a satirical look at the death of the Celtic Tiger, dark cold war drama ‘The Wall in the Mind’, and ‘Mad Scientists of Music’, an award winning documentary about experimental Irish music.
Writer / Director
Gareth Stack is a writer who develops work for radio, theatre and screen. Gareth Stack is a writer, director and pioneering Irish podcaster. In 2005, while senior producer at Trinity FM, he co-created the first Irish internet TV show ‘Technolotics’. Since then he has developed numerous radio documentaries, dramas and podcasts for channels like Newstalk, RTE Lyric FM as well as local and regional radio. Including the award winning series ‘Mad Scientists of Music’, which explored the Irish experimental audio scene. He has worked as arts correspondent for programmes like Culture File & the Dave Fanning show, developed programmes for digital channels like Radiomade, and served as communications officer for the Association of Independent Radio Producers Ireland (AIRPI). Gareth currently teaches courses in Podcasting & ‘Storytelling Through Sound’. Recently he has begun creating work for stage. His last play ‘Mic Drop’, received great reviews at the Scene & Heard festival.
Starring legendary radio actor / producer Roger Gregg!
Roger Gregg is an award winning playwright, composer, audio-producer and actor. Over the past 25 years he has written for Crazy Dog Theatre, Dublin Youth Theatre, TEAM, The American National Audio Theatre Festival, Graffiti Theatre, The Razor Edge, Oberon Theatre and The Gaiety School of Acting. His plays have also been produced by New York University, the University of Missouri, the Theaterpedagogisches Zentrum in Nuremberg, Germany. His Crazy Dog productions have won many international awards including; 3 American Mark Time Science Fiction Awards, 2 Ogle Fantasy Awards and 2 AUDIOFILE Golden Earphone Awards. In 2006 in a special feature reviewing his work, BBC Radio 4 hailed him as ‘one of a handful of truly great radio dramatists’.
Roger Gregg as Claude Chabert.
Sebastian Connellan = Carvel Kiddler
Seamus Stackpoole = Brendan O’Riordan / Miley O’Cumman
Gareth Stack = Eamon Chabert, Felix (in Sales), A.R.T News Anchor
Tara Cush = Shiela O’Riordan / Maraoid O’Common, Selkie
Niall Bruton = Alan O’Riordan / Ciaran O’Dowd
Thommas Kane Byrne = Fr Terry O’Mahony, Fiacra, Irate Reader
Pamela Flanagan = Maureen Masterson / Lug
Roisin Rankin = Laura O’Mahony, Banshee, BBC Presenter
Aislinn O’Byrne = Saoirse Chabert, Bridget Minerva, Irate Reader
With sound design / recording by Hearsay award winning producer Brendan Rehill (An Klondike, the Wedding Tree).
Migrant Fictions is an ambitious new drama project, bringing together the talents of a diverse group of immigrant writers to capture their experience as émigrés to Ireland. German-Polish writer / director Dominik Turkowski developed five short drama scripts through workshops with writers from the immigrant community. Their stories capture the varied experiences of newcomers to Ireland. This project provided the opportunity for immigrants to articulate their experiences in their own words, through five short radio dramas. These dramas were devised collectively by the migrants themselves, and connect in profound and mysterious ways that reflect with humour and humanity what it means to be a migrant in Ireland today.
We’d like to thank world famous film and videogame composer Craig Stuart Garfinkle who kindly donated his compositions to the project.
The plays were written by a talented and diverse group of Migrant Writers. The writers were Dalia Smelstoriūtė, Özgecan Kesici, Dominik Turkowski, Tina Brescanu, and Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan.
Experience 5 ten-minute dramas on travel, isolation and the tension between tradition and modern lifestyles. 5 stories sharing perspectives on love and family, of acceptance and prejudice, of frustration with the bureaucracy and profound questions between home and adoptive culture.
In profound and mysterious ways they reflect with humour and humanity what it means to be a migrant in Ireland today.
Girl On A Plane
Elif, a German born Kazakh girl, is travelling home to meet her father. Elif is studying biochemistry in Ireland, but has dreams of becoming an actress. Dreams her traditionalist father thinks are beneath his daughter. Will she go her own way ?
Robert has inherited a valuable collection of paintings – the work of his well-known >artist mother Margaret Owalska, a Polish migrant to Ireland. At an auction shortly after his mother’s death, Robert is interrupted by a man who is claiming ownership of his mother’s work.
Talk at Me
Aysegul, a Turkish migrant working in Dublin, meets her boyfriend for coffee. Really Aseygul wants to address her VISA worries, but she has to deal with the reality that her boyfriend is more interested in expressing his own opinions than listening to her problems. Asysegul has been rejected by the bureaucracy of the employment permit programme. Will she have to return to the unstable political situation in Turkey ?
Eat In or Take Out
Egle, an elderly Lithuanian woman travelling in Ireland for work, heads to a restaurant to meet Jonas. Jonas is in Ireland working eighty hour weeks to save up money for his wife and child back home. Together they talk about life and while a new friendship unfolds, Egle is also facing the sudden ending of a long lasting romance.
I Belong – Tina Brescanu
A young Swedish girl Pernilla, falls for Carrick, a charming Irish musician on a hot night in a Swedish town. Following him back to Ireland, Pernilla must deal with the realities of working in Ireland, crank callers, and a rude elderly lady she cares for, Peig. Gradually Pernilla and Peig develop a mutual respect and become fast friends. At the same time, pressured by Carrick to join him living in isolated Connemara, Pernilla is pushed to take a tough decision..
Broadcasting Bank Holiday Monday 31st October, 11AM on Newstalk.
Getting into the game is a new documentary aimed at kids who play games. Video games. Kids who play videogames and wonder maybe, possibly, perhapsily, if they’d like to make them. Growing up I remember getting those magazines full of strange impenetrable symbols that promised – if you could just type the whole book into your computer, without making any mistakes – you’d get a brand new, completely free game. These days games are everywhere, but they’re so damn fancy they can seem impossible to learn how to make.
This documentary will help open the lid, just a crack, to see what lies inside your favourite games. We’ve brought together people from every corner of the industry – artists, coders, indies, musicians, gamejammers, and developers of every age.
The programme is divided into five segments, each one looking at a different part of making games.
Learning the Art
We visit cutting edge computing research laboratories at DIT and IT Carlow and tour exciting games development technology. Lecturers and students explain the skills students should be building outside the classroom if they’d like to study videogames in college. Students tell us about their love of games and how they got into making their own.
Getting Covered in Jam
At DIT a group called ‘Global Gamecraft’ host ‘game jams’, competitions where anyone (over 18) can help make a game in just a few hours. Game Jams are an excellent way to develop the technical, artistic and collaborative skills sought by the games development industry. Jams are a fun and friendly way for young people to get a taste of game development. We speak to competitors and organisers like Vicky Lee, and provide a glimpse of the excitement and accessibility of ‘homebrew’ game development
Modern videogames simulate exciting and realistic physics. The most impressive game physics ‘middleware’ software in the world comes from an Irish company founded by graduates of Trinity College. Havok are an industry leader employing dozens of artists and programmers. We speak to staff at the company about the day-to-day work of making one of the key technologies underpinning some of the most exciting and popular videogames.
The independent game development community is a thriving segment of the industry. We speak with leading Irish indie developer Terry Cavanagh, creator of hit games like ‘Super Hexagon’, about running his own studio. Terry explains how new distribution methods make it easy for anyone to sell their homemade game on the internet. Independent game development is a part of the industry that is particularly important to present to second level students – since it can be used to develop skills, or even start a business while at school.
We try out virtual reality in the company of Bryan Duggan of DIT, exploring DEEP, the anti-anxiety game from Owen Harris. Deep uses unique breathing sensors, soothing music and a beautiful polygon virtual environment to teach deep breathing relaxation techniques.
We hear from David O’Reilly, animator and creator of fictional videogames for use in Hollywood films. David gives us a glimpse into a self-directed career involving art, graphic design, and filmmaking.
Coder Dojo is a place for kids to learn how to make games, websites, and even robots. Started in County Cork, the Dojo movement has spread worldwide. Amazingly, Coder Dojo events are completely free! If there isn’t a coder dojo in your area, you can even start your own. We meet some of the kids who are making coder dojo the coolest place on earth.
Getting into the game was produced by Dead Medium Productions. The programme was developed, researched and presented by Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal.