With Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney
The Artistic Director of acclaimed Belfast-based theatre company Cahoots NI has been enchanting children and their families for over 15 years with boldly innovative works combining magic and illusion, physical theatre and original music to spellbind young audiences. Paul is Dad to 13-year-old Jamie.
“We’ve a show about a magic bear, the secrets of space travel and a vanishing elephant!”
Q) Tell me briefly the background story and how the Cahoots NI baby has grown since his birth in 2001?
Cahoots NI started by accident. I was commissioned to write a piece of work for young audiences and that show, ‘Buster’, was quite successful. Subsequently I was invited to perform it at a few international theatre festivals and things just took off from there. I created another show….and then another. Right now we are creating more work for young audiences in Northern Ireland than ever before. Last year we produced four brand new pieces of large scale work; Penguins, The Assistant’s Revenge, Under the Hawthorn Tree and The Elves and the Shoemaker along with a number of outreach projects. Internationally we’ve toured extensively these last few years and that has helped support and stabilise the company. I’ve just returned from Philadelphia where we performed our show Penguins and Danny Carmo’s Mathematical Mysteries is currently touring across the USA.
Q) For anyone who is unlucky enough not to have seen a Cahoots production before, can you explain what makes you stand out from the crowd?
At Cahoots NI we create theatrical magic for our young audiences. I have had a passion for magic and theatre my entire life and with Cahoots NI the two worlds collide. I worked as actor for many years and also a magician and an illusion consultant. It’s this special combination that makes Cahoots NI unique.
Q) Why does your heart lie with creating theatre specifically for children?
There is often a belief that children are the audiences of tomorrow, but I disagree – I think children are the audiences of today! So much of what we do is about creating visual wonder on stage with lighting, physical theatre, illusion… I like to think that children leave one of our performances inspired by the story and delighted by the characters they have met. I love the idea of kids asking their parents questions about the show all the way home!
Q) The last few years have been very busy and saw you taking Cahoots NI overseas. How was that?
We are so lucky to be represented by Holden and Arts Associates, one of North America’s leading theatrical agents for young audiences. We came into contact when Theresa Holden saw our production of ‘Egg’ and that’s where it all began. Since then we have toured Egg; Shh! We have a Plan; Danny Carmo’s Mathematical Mysteries and Lights! Camera! Math! to 100,000 people across the USA. We also have big plans for a tour of China with ‘Shh! We have a Plan’ later this year and a USA tour of ‘Penguins’ in 2020. We love touring overseas, but it is crucially important to us that we create our new work here in Northern Ireland and that Northern Irish audiences get to see it first before anyone else in the world.
Q) We’re really looking forward to seeing your latest production Milo’s Hat Trick at this year’s Belfast Children’s Festival. Can you give us a bit of a sneak preview of what it’s about?
Milo’s Hat Trick is based on the beautiful picture book by American author Jon Agee. Milo is a magician… but not a very good one! The theatre manager gives him one last chance to pull a rabbit out of his hat or else he will lose his job. With a carrot, a stick and some string, Milo heads to the woods to catch a rabbit. Instead, he catches a bear, a very talented bear, who has a trick or two of his own that could help save Milo’s act. The show will feature original music, dance and a larger-than-life puppet created by Jimmy Grimes, former Puppet Director of Warhorse on the West End, which we are very excited about.
Q) Have we much more to look forward to from Cahoots NI in 2019?
This year’s programme is so exciting! We’ve a show about a magic bear, the secrets of space travel and a vanishing elephant! Internationally, we have three different tours in the USA and we’re also touring China for the first time! Busy times ahead.
See Milo’s Hat Trick at The Lyric Theatre as part of the Belfast Children’s Festival 2019 from Friday 8 – Sunday 10 March with a relaxed performance at 2pm on Sunday 10 March. Tickets £10, book at youngatart.co.uk