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Shimna’s West End Girls

Shimna Integrated College is proud to announce that three of its students, Aurora Milligan, Jana Pobloth, and Sophie Waddell, have been chosen to perform at the National Theatre London, marking a significant achievement for the school and the region.

This opportunity comes as part of the Crescent Arts Youth Theatre's production, "Strangers Like Me," which was selected from a pool of 300 arts groups across the UK. Northern Ireland has not been represented at this prestigious event for the past 25 years.

The National Theatre's Connections program serves as a nationwide youth theatre festival, granting youth groups the opportunity to stage new plays written for young audiences.

Each year, the Connections team, along with mentor directors and writers, selects the companies that will perform at the National Theatre Festival. They evaluate cast performance elements such as clarity, audibility, storytelling, conviction, and energy.

Principal of Shimna Integrated College says, “this opportunity is testament to our students’ exceptional talent and dedication. It’s great that they get to showcase their stage craft at a world-renowned theatre.

Jana expresses her excitement, stating, "I am so thrilled about this opportunity. With all expenses covered and the added excitement of treading the same boards as some of the world’s most famous performers, I can't wait!”

Sophie adds, " to showcase our hard work on such a renowned stage, and for this to happen once I’ve completed my GCSE exams is unbelievable. The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation's involvement in this opportunity is remarkable too. Who knows, maybe Mr. Webber himself will show up and witness our performance!"

Interestingly, this event holds special significance for Aurora Milligan and her family. The last time the Connections National Theatre Program was awarded to a Nothern Ireland company, (coinciding within the same year as the Good Friday Agreement), her father and uncle, Ciaran and Brian Milligan, were part of that very group.

Ciaran, Shimna's Resilience Lead, conveys his delight at seeing his daughter follow in his footsteps 25 years later, saying, "The opportunity to perform at the National Theatre London cannot be underestimated. To perform in front of a sold-out audience, filled with fans, industry professionals, and even celebrities, is an experience of a lifetime. Aurora and the rest of the cast are in for an unforgettable journey. As a father, I couldn’t be prouder.”

Aurora shares her enthusiasm, "I am incredibly excited to be heading to London. The sold-out shows in Belfast were so much fun, but bringing our play to a wider audience will be truly awesome. Also, to be able to share this experience with my dad, who lived this same experience 25 years before me, is something I know we will both treasure forever.”

The girls will grace the stage as part of the Crescent Arts Youth Theatre ensemble cast at the National Theatre London on Saturday, June 24, 2023.


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