Sing for your lunch

Rosemary Street Presbyterian was once again host to another beautiful soprano today as Polo went along for another taste of Classical singing. This week, Sarah Shine took to the stage with the piano being played by Dearbhla Colins. Polo has always been a team player, and this week loved seeing how a singer and pianist worked together. If you watch carefully, you can see every small look, hear every little change of speed, feel every little pause that comes from a good team working together. Sarah ‘shone’ in all of her pieces, and Dearbhla danced her way through the piano accompaniment. According to Polo, it was “sweet, like”. 

Composing the Penguin movement of the Carnival of the animals

Composing the Penguin movement of the Carnival of the animals

Penguin eloquence aside, Rosemary Street delivered again on a wonderful recital and next week, pianist David Quigley, should be great. 

Polo has always fancied himself a bit of a pianist, so David, if you feel like pulling out… we have your backup right here…

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Polo has a musical lunch…

Polo was in Belfast City Centre yesterday afternoon and had just finished his lunch. Walking down Rosemary Street, he saw a crowd gathered around the church opposite TK Max. Intrigued, he went in to see what was happened… we all know Polo can’t resist being in the thick of anything exciting.

Turns out there was a recital on, and the singer was the beautiful Jean Wallace, one of NI Opera’s 2013-2014 young artists. Polo has been to the opera before, and has alwaIMG_8528ys been pleasantly surprised at how much he enjoyed it. Yesterday was no exception- Jean was astounding! Turns out this recital series will be on over the summer, so if you have some free time at lunch when you’re in the city centre and want to get out of the rain, rest your feet, or simply just to hear some wonderful music, pop along to Rosemary Street Presbyterian at 1:15pm any Wednesday between now and the end of August… You might even recognise some of the music!

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Upcoming- Polo goes back to school!

After having such a wonderful time at the Belfast book festival last month, Polo has decided to take another plunge into the literary world with the 27th annual John Hewitt International Summer School. He is partMichael D and Poloicular excited to meet one of his idols, President Michael D. Higgins, who will be opening the festival on the 28th July in the Market Place Theatre, Armagh. His camera is at the ready…

Polo is still new to literature, so he’s can’t wait to sample as much of the wide range of workshops and readings as he possibly can! A few things on his list so far: going to a talk by Joseph O’Connor on his new novel The Thrill of It; chatting with Eoin McNamee’s about his latest novel Blue is the Night, the third book of the ‘Blue Trilogy’ of crime thriller novels, based on true murder cases from 1950s Northern Ireland; going to the daily poetry readings from award-winning poets, including Tom Paulin, Ruth Padel, and John Montague and going to see Silent by Pat Kinevane, a new production by Dublin-based Fishamble looking at homelessness and Mental Health.

The summer school runs from the 28th July to the 1st August in the Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre in Armagh. The full programme is available online at and

Keep a look out for tickets and offers on, and if you get the chance to come along make sure you say hello to Polo, he loves meeting new people. See you there!



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Polo at the Pick ‘n’ Mix Festival 2014

Polo enjoys nothing more than a sneek peak at the latest local productions, and this weekend he was in for a real treat when he visited the Pick ‘n’ Mix Festival at the MAC Belfast!

Now in it’s sePhoto 1venth year, Pick ‘n’ Mix brings together established and new companies serving up a smorgasbord of drama, dance, comedy and installation performances.  Pick ‘n’ Mix Festival takes audiences right to the heart of artistic process with special previews of up and coming plays, talks from local writers and directors and a chance to feedback on your experience!


Polo is not the most decisive of penguins but photo 2the ‘at a glance’ boards, in the gloriously decorated canteen at the MAC, helped him plan out a busy schedule for Saturday and Sunday.  Polo took in the delights of Tinderbox Theatre Double Bill laughing his beak off at Christmas comedy caper ‘All Through The House’, he marveled at ‘The Light’ by Gary Rowntree Dance and thoroughly enjoyed the haunting ‘Glass Bell’ by Fionnuala Kennedy and Ellen Turley to name but a few of the fantastic local productions on show!

Keep your eyes peeled for these productions turning up at a venue near you in the future and remember there are always chances to test drive local drama, comedy and dance by checking our Test Drive the Arts NI website.

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Polo goes to this year’s Belfast Book Festival!

Polo at the 2014 Belfast Book Festival

Polo at the 2014 Belfast Book Festival

Polo loves theatre, dance and visual arts but sometimes there is nothing better than a good book!  And that’s why Polo was delighted to head along to the Belfast Book Festival 2014, a celebration of literature, poetry and verbal arts!

Willemita Fleming takes the stage to talk

Willemita Fleming takes the stage to talk






On a sunny Wednesday afternoon Polo headed to the home of the Belfast Book Festival, Crescent Arts Centre to see authors Willetta Fleming and Deborah Alicia Nicholas talk about their experiences of living in Northern Ireland and hear excerpts from their books ‘Finding Black Gold on the Emerald Isle’ and ‘A Ray of Hope’.  The afternoon was inspiring, powerful and funny and showed the range of intercultural influences that Northern Ireland has.

There is lots to see and do at this year’s Belfast Book Festival 2014 including international stars such as financial experts Max Keiser, Stacy Herbert and Mitch Feierstein, former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion and Radio 3′s Ian McMillan.  If politics is your thing, Ann Widdecombe and Alan Johnson will be gracing the Crescent stage on Sunday 15th following a Saturday evening with the likes of Paul Muldoon and the amazing performance poet Elvis McGonagall.

Penguin! 60 Scrabble points!

Penguin! 60 Scrabble points!

Want to go to the Belfast Book Festival?  A limited amount of tickets will be on in the next 24 hours which will give you a chance to attend some wonderful events! Keep your eyes peeled!

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“Side Splitting-ly funny” Polo’s review of local comedy ‘Demented’

Polo loves a laugh just as mush as the next penguin and he was not disappointed when he snapped up some tickets for the last performance of new comedy ‘Demented’ at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

Written by award-winning playwright Gary Mitchell, Demented tells the hilarious story of a doomed bank heist involving a divorced man going through the man-opause, his dementia-suffering father, his vengeful wheelchair-bound neighbour and an avaricious young woman. 
Andrew is divorced and living in a pensioner’s bungalow taking care of his father who has dementia. Keith, his next door neighbour uses a wheelchair after being injured in a road accident which wasn’t his fault. Keith’s girlfriend Felicity is listed as his care person but is more likely to borrow his car, money and anything else she wants. Felicity works at the bank, where the manager is the driver who put Keith in a wheelchair.

At first Andrew doesn’t want to know until Felicity tells him a cure for dementia might be available but only at a substantial cost and his father shows his determination not to give his final years over to the disease without a fight. What could possibly go wrong?

As Polo found out… a lot! 

Demented was side splitting-ly funny from start to finish with a few good twists thrown in for good measure.  At the end Polo joined the audience in a standing ovation in the Naughtan Studio.  

Polo enjoyed it so much that while buying a chilled snack at the interval he enquried if Demented would be returning following it’s rave reviews!  This could be a possibility with local comedy ‘Can’t Forget About You’ which premiered last year at the Naughton Studio, making a comeback due to popular demand this time on the Danske Bank Stage from the 8th June. 

Do you fancy a laugh? Keep posted to our were you can apply for free tickets to see comedy gems throughout Northern Ireland.

Photo credit: The Lyric Theatre Belfast Demented Production Photos

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Polo’s Sneak Peek of Transfer Theater Companies Foxfinder

Polo was out and about this week looking for exclusive behind the scenes scoop to share with you Test Drivers!

On Monday, he joined his friends at Transfer Theatre Company for their first rehearsal of Foxfinder which will be taking place in the Crescent Arts Centre from 5th-8th June.

Polo helps the cast of Foxfinder run through their lines for opening night in June

Polo helps the cast of Foxfinder run through their lines for opening night in June

Transfer Theatre Company will be bringing the Irish premiere of Foxfinder by Dawn King to Belfast.  Foxfinder was the winner of the 2011 Papatango New Writing Competition and premiered at the Finborough Theatre, London in 2011.

The cast of both experienced and new Northern Irish talent includes Gerard Kelly, Adrian Cooke, Rachael Galloway and Marina Hampton and Polo was on hand to help them run through their lines, his favorite scene being:

“You, Foxfinder, must be clean in body and mind. Always remember that the smallest fault in your character could become a crack into which the beast may insinuate himself, like water awaiting the freeze that will smash the stone apart.”

So whats it about…

William Bloor, a ‘foxfinder’, arrives at Sam and Judith Covey’s farm to investigate a

Foxfinder 5th-8th June

Foxfinder 5th-8th June

suspected contamination. He is driven by his education and beliefs to unearth and destroy an animal that threatens man’s civilisation, and to remain free from its influence himself. As his investigations proceed, the events that follow change the course of all their lives – for ever.

Foxfinder is a gripping and unsettling parable. It is a darkly comic exploration of belief, desire and responsibility set in a world both strange and familiar.  Tickets are on sale now from the Crescent Arts Centre and will also feature in an upcoming Test Drive Plus e-newsletter, watch this space!


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