Armagh Planetarium hosted an amazing week-long live theatre performance of the Dragons of Azrael in conjunction with the Department of Culture, Arts and leisure’s Creativity Month. Creativity month is an annual event which runs throughout March. Its main aim is to stimulate new thinking and new collaborations to help creative people, creative ideas and creative businesses to emerge and flourish.
The Dragons of Azrael is the brainchild of Martin Ryan from D-Signs and Displays Ltd. Based in Coalisland, the company are unique, creative and forward thinking. They design and manufacture a wide range of visual displays for the sign, display, exhibition, theatre and film industries.
On the Friday before we opened the first ever performance of this new concept the lorries and vans began to unload the seemingly never ending contents of materials. It was hard to imagine what was going to be created as all the staff waited with baited breath to see what would unfold. What we were treated to on Monday was a stunning set with lifelike trees and undergrowth as our main hall was transformed into the landscape of Planet Azrael. We had a huge cave and a space-craft adorning the stage area which was stunning. To complement the set we also had special lights and lasers which were hoisted up onto our roof. The place looked incredible, now we awaited the audience.
We had a range of schools booked in to experience the Dragons of Azrael and they were also treated to a digital theatre show and a tour of the exhibit areas. Many schools had not visited us before and some had never been to Armagh, so it was satisfying to know that we were helping others experience our facilities. As well as schools, we also held a late night Tuesday and a full schedule of shows on the Saturday for the public. The feedback was very positive with “oohs” and “ahhs” a plenty!
I sat in on all the shows myself, and it is a credit to the cast and crew as I was always looking forward to the next one! Arriel is the narrator of the show, and the main character. He is human and invites the children to come with him on the journey to Azrael. Azrael is a planet where Dragons reside, and is a place where imagination has been lost. It was prophesied that imagination would return when the chosen one was born!
When we arrive at the planet we are met with a baby egg which begins to shake, suddenly it hatches and we meet our little star Azazel. Arriel thinks he could be the chosen one to bring back imagination as he can read the thoughts of the children and is inspired by poetry, art and dance. Just as we begin to believe we could have the chosen one, we are interrupted by two very mischievous Dragons by the name of Arlon and Anius. These cheeky twins almost steal the show as they interact with Arriel, Azazel and indeed the audience. In a longer “Dragons of Azrael” show I think we could be seeing a lot more of these very popular twins!
The twins don’t believe that Azazel is the chosen one, but then we hear a rap of thunder, the lights change and there is smoke coming out of the cave. The room almost feels like it is vibrating as we await to see what is happening. Arriel tells us not to be afraid, it is the Grand Master Argon who has come back because he wants to meet the chosen one. Argon is old and wise but he doesn’t take any cheekiness from the twins which send the audience into outbursts of laughter when they interact with one another. We learn that little Azazel is the chosen one and the world of Azrael will be changed forever as it will now have lots of creativity, lots of art, singing, dancing and poetry!
We are left with Arriel bringing us back to Planet Earth, happy that Azrael has been changed for the better. The laser lights indicate our travel across time and space, and then all of a sudden we are back home again!
The use of lighting also adds greatly to the production. The use of lasers is amazing as it gives us a sense of movement and of travelling to the Dragon world. The smoke adds to the atmosphere and we are captured and taken-in by the storyline.
I can truly say that the “Dragons of Azrael” is a magical heart-warming production that transports you through the Cosmos. This was only a pilot show at Armagh Planetarium and a taster of things to come! There are much bigger things in store for this production. I was honestly quite sad to see the set being taken down but am pleased that the future looks bright for the Dragons and many more children will be enchanted by it. If I were you I would most definitely be looking out for it at a venue close to you soon.
For more information on the “Dragons of Azrael” please contact Martin Ryan at D-Signs and Displays. If you visited the Planetarium and seen the show, please leave your comments below!
(Article by Sinead McNicholl, Education Support Officer)