Spanner in the Works Theatre Company was established in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in September 1998.
Spanner in the Works Theatre Company was established in Belfast, Northern Ireland in September 1998.
The company is led by Artistic Director Patricia Downey – an accomplished director, writer and workshop facilitator with seventeen years experience of working in theatre.
Although based in Belfast, Spanner in the Works Theatre Company (SITW) undertakes performances and workshops throughout Ireland. The company works with rural and urban communities as well as with both sides of Northern Ireland’s main religious traditions. SITW specialises in working with women, young people and groups with mental and physical difficulties to explore a range of social concerns through the medium of drama.
Using drama workshops and devised pieces, SITW develops productions exploring contemporary social issues that aim to challenge and provoke the audience and performer. Often dealing with difficult, hard-hitting and at times controversial subject matter. The company takes its inspiration from the social environment of the people of Northern Ireland and the fragility of human life.
SITW works with a wide range of partners such as The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, MindWise NI, Simon Community NI and Women’s Aid NI as well as client groups such as primary schools, youth clubs, community groups and traveller’s support groups. In the past year (2010) the theatre company has delivered a drama programme to adults with severe learning and physical disabilities and has also worked with Down Special Olympics. This emphasises the diverse experience the company has in developing the skills and confidence of vulnerable young people and women in a variety of community settings.
The company is currently managed by Patricia Downey and supported in its work by a team of over 50 volunteers who are trained in child protection, disability awareness, community relations and diversity.
Spanner in the Works Theatre Company prides itself with continually seeking new challenges for the community it works in and for the audiences it performs to.
The Company is currently managed and administrated on a part-time basis by Patricia Downey who reports to a non-executive Management Committee made up of three women. The committee is made up of representatives from the education, civil service and business communities. The Company also seeks the advice of members of the arts community.
All other staff are employed on a project to project basis. Spanner in the Works employs up to five actors, designers, technicians, facilitators and other arts practitioners throughout the year. As a policy, the Company actively recruits up and coming, local practitioners to work on projects.
The Company is supported in its work by a team of over 50 volunteers, who come from all sections of the community and all regions of Northern Ireland. These volunteers are being trained in child protection, disability awareness, community relations and diversity. As the Company’s reputation spreads, so too does the level of volunteers increase.
Patricia Downey is the Artistic Director /Writer and Co-Founder of Spanner in the Works Theatre Company (SITW). She has directed all of SITW’s productions and has worked as a freelance drama workshop facilitator throughout Ireland. In 2015 was Awarded the highly commended community impact award from DCAL
In 2012 she was nominated for Belfast telegraph women in the arts and in 2004, she was awarded “Woman in Arts in the Community” by the Training for Women Network (TWN) and in 1999; she won the award for “Best Director” at the North/South Festival in Belfast for Agnes of God performed by Spanner in the Works.
Patricia is passionate about the huge range of benefits that drama workshops for the community can deliver, both to individuals and groups. In 1998, she saw an opportunity to give everyone in Northern Ireland regardless of background, class, community or location, the chance to experience the benefits of engaging in theatre. Her aim was to create a theatre company working with both sides of the community (both urban and rural) to address social concerns through the medium of drama.
Patricia also co-ordinates all of the community outreach programmes for Spanner in the Works and over the past Seventeen years she has worked with many organisations. Achievements include touring production Control alt delete to 60 venues across Ireland.
2015 Touring production Diablo to Newfoundland and across UK AND Ireland
Nov 2013 52 school/ Communities in Northern Ireland seen three plays Toxic / the voice within and think how you drink. Oct 2013 Secret door tour across Ireland Nov 2012 Diablo toured 4 times across Ireland and Edinburgh 2012 well behaved women rarely make history toured Northern Ireland, Brighton and Edinburgh
Mar 2012 Toxic a play that toured 42 schools and communities across Northern Ireland Nov 2011 Popping candy play this play has toured to over 40 groups across Northern Ireland, One Tribe (2010) – Patricia was commissioned to write a play as part of the anti-racism programme in partnership with post primary schools from Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Newry and Mourne and the border counties of Monaghan and Louth. Beat It (2010) – a play commissioned by Women’s Aid and supported by PSNI Community Safety that was written by Patricia and performed by Spanner in the Works to post primary schools and community groups throughout Northern Ireland. Life Goes On (2009) – a play commissioned by the charity mindWise, devised and produced by Patricia which depicts the impact mental illness has on the individual and their loved ones. Trauma in the Community (2004) – a series of 5 short plays written by Patricia that was commissioned by South Armagh Women’s Health Initiative. Playing with Theatre (2000-2003) – a major 3 year Lottery funded project created, developed and produced by Patricia which involved SITW working with 10 community groups from across Northern Ireland. The project involved writing a devised theatre piece with each group, culminating in a performance delivered in and for the local community.
Arts Council NI,