Kwasie Boyce was born in Trinidad, raised in Harlem, New York and now resides in Dundalk. He is the founder and Artistic Director of M.A.D Youth Theatre, which was founded in Dundalk in 2011. www.facebook.com/M.A.DYouthTheatre/
What’s your favourite thing about Dundalk?
When you can see the Cooley Mountains when approaching Dundalk from the M1. I know I’m nearly home. It feels good, especially if I’m away for a while.
What would your perfect day in the local area be — and why?
A perfect day would be running around Blackrock playground with my kids then heading down to the beach and sit on the wall eating a 99 or a bag of chips staring out to the shoreline whilst maintaining ninja-like reflexes to keep those seagulls from lifting the food out of the kid's hands.
What would you like to change about Dundalk?
Some of those empty shops could serve a better purpose rather than being an eyesore. Display art, clean it up, have pop up stalls, or something regenerative that could add to the local community.
What annoys you about the town?
Broken parking meters. It's a pain when you feverishly looking for another meter to have to jog a half the block to find another that is also not working. This one time the only change I had was a Euro coin and it got jammed. So I went back to the car and started digging around for change. I had thoughts of seeing blue tickets on the windshield wipers. It was a nightmare! Then there was a tap on the window, and a gentleman handed me a ticket with an hour on it. Now I do the same if I still have time on me ticket.
Cast members of the play DNA by Dennis Kelly
What plans do you have for the rest of year?
Start a 12-week challenge with the lads in Oak Gym. I’m not getting any younger so I got to keep what I have in shape!
My brother in law Sean Cooney is getting married, so I'm looking forward to breaking out some moves on the dance floor with the missus. And we’ll run some summer camps in collaboration with some of this country’s finest artists at M.A.D Youth Theatre. See www.facebook.com/M.A.DYouthTheatre for info on our classes.
We’ll also officially launch M.A.D Youth Theatre in Ardee, continue to do work with the warriors in Dundalk Youth Centre and hit the schools again with a workshop on positive mental health.
Earlier this year I facilitated a workshop on assertiveness in schools and it made a good impression on the young people. I would like to do a series of workshop on consent in secondary schools for all genders.
I believe having the young people part of the conversation in a safe way in relation to the issues they face is far better than giving a talk and handing them a leaflet.
How would you describe Dundalk people?
Curious, suspicious, self-deprecating and generous. It depends on what’s the weathers like. Sometimes you have to brace yourself for the moan of the month but, all in all, decent folks.
Where's the best place to go for a walk in the local area?
Anywhere there is water, I’m an island boy so I like water. From Stephenstown pond, the Navvy Bank, Blackrock and St Helena's Park. They are a lovely place for a stroll, especially with the family.
What local amenities could Dundalk do with?
A bowling alley. I know it's not a government funded amenity, but it could be. Think of how much good a bowling alley could do. Different cultures, ages, genders, abilities could all cross paths under one roof and knock some pins over.
Young actors from M.A.D. Youth Theatre
What’s your first memory of Dundalk?
Going to The Spirit Store when it was the ‘old store’. It reminded me of bars in New York, not the shiny poser types bars, more like the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (a bar in New York). Small but full of character. If I walk into the Store by myself, I would not feel alone. I will always know someone there.
What’s your favourite Dundalk slang/phrase?
Hames. It’s so unusual, I have a little chuckle when I hear it used. One time I overheard two young girls talking. One girl commented on her fake tan saying: “I made an absolute hames of it, the state of me, I put too much on my face”. The other girl looks at her and said: “You’re grand like”.
What do you think of the local youth drama/general acting scene here - how does it measure up against other towns?
In the recent years since I've started M.A.D Youth Theatre there has been an increase in youth drama/Arts participation, in addition to what already existed. Compared to other towns Dundalk has a lot to offer young people in all artistic disciplines. I would just like to see more collaboration between groups and artists.
A few years back I started the Dundalk Youth Arts Festival and collaborated with local artist organization like Creative spark, Dundalk youth centre and groups and young people was able to showcase their talents and particpate in various art forms.
It had a lasting impact on many young people who attended who then pursue as a vocation, dance, DJing acting and visual arts. Sadly the funding wasn't there to continue but we ran it for three years and it would be great to have it going again.
Would you encourage more local youths to get involved in workshops with MAD YT?
I would encourage them to only participate if they have an interest in drama and creating it, that could be in different areas such as writing or sound etc. We ask for a commitment from the young people which is challenging at first because we have a structured programme that facilitates their growth artistically, socially and personally.
You don't have to want to be the next best thing to be a member. In fact, we don't sell that dream. But what participants will experience is a rich variety of theatre training, take part in wonderful trips, residential and festivals, and come in contact with amazing people and opportunities.
We are for everyone and not for everyone at the same time. Our approach and style is as unique as the young people that come through the doors. And when they leave we usually see someone who is a more rounded person, more confident, more resilient, this person has truly grown and belonged. This person can become anything they want to be and will be great at it.
See: www.facebook.com/M.A.DYouthTheatre or call Kwasie on 083 140 4747 for more details on upcoming workshops.