Imaginate and Lyra Artist in Residence


The themes of friendship and masculinity have been stirring around my heart and mind for several years, and I am thrilled to address them theatrically with this group of young men. I hope that through the process we can all remind ourselves of the shape of play, sharing and tenderness.

—Jim Manganello

The Imaginate and Lyra residency ran from January - March 2020 by Jim Manganello (Lead Artist) with Kim Donohoe (Associate Artist) and Jorja Follina (Youth Arts Worker) who worked with a group of 15 Primary 5 - 7 boys from St Francis RC Primary School.  The group worked together at Lyra, coming out of school every Tuesday that term to explore the theme of boyhood and how gender expectations affect children.  As with a lot of projects, the end came a little earlier than we were expecting because of the coronavirus lockdown.  As the boys missed their chance to share their moves with family plus teachers and friends from school the artists made this short film from their documentation materials.  Enjoy!

The Residency

This residency celebrated boys and their friends. Through dance, song, image and character, this group of primary school boys worked on a performance piece that tests the boundaries of intimacy and vulnerability among young men. They devised material from the boys' own understanding of what makes a good friendship. They looked at how other relationships among males (parent/child, mentor/pupil, law-enforcer/-breaker) might be recast as versions of friendship, creating a sense of intergenerational support and hand-over.

There is a crisis in male friendship, and it seems to be getting deeper with each generation. Recent research suggests that the loneliness endemic to adult men results from the values of individualism and invulnerability cultivated in boys. Although boys seem to maintain deep, trusting, loving friendships before puberty, as they enter manhood, they are taught to value self-reliance over caring, and they grow more and more alone. This residency, conducted with a group of boys on the cusp of that shift, seeked both to reflect the complexity of that transition and to celebrate the joys of boyhood friends. Perhaps we can enshrine the values of friendship before it is lost.

This residency was part of Imaginate’s year-round programme for artists supporting the development of new performance ideas for young audiences.  If you would like to find out more about the residencies we run, or the work we do with artists and schools please contact Fiona Ferguson, Creative Development Director.  

For this residency, we worked in partnership with Lyra and St Francis RC Primary School.