The National Celtic Festival

The National Celtic Festival

Check out the National Celtic Festival

Theatre Program

National Celtic Festival 10 -13 June 2016

Not just a great music festival, but a great festival of theatre!

The seaside town of Portarlington on the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, hosts Australia’s premier Celtic festival, and brings a full program of theater across the long weekend. Don’t miss out on a great line up of theatre, readings, forums, Master classes, and storytelling — all part of the unique, National Celtic Festival experience.

Actors 1

Here is what’s on offer over the weekend:

Written and performed by Felix Nobis

Actor 2 Performer and academic Dr. Felix Nobis from the Centre for Theatre and Performance at Monash University will perform his poem, Once Upon a Barstool at this year’s festival. In 2003 Felix was commissioned by the Cork Fringe Festival to write a poem exploring the nature of storytelling and contemporary Irish / Australian life. The result was a modern day epic poem following 4 generations of one family from Ireland to Australia and back again. Complete with sea-voyages, battles with monsters, and a bit of boozing, Once Upon a Barstool is a modern adventure in storytelling. There will be a performance on Saturday and on Sunday at the festival.

Barnstorm Theatre Company Ireland.  

The Messenger explores the 1916 Rising from the children’s perspective for audiences young and not so young.  This performance at the National Celtic Festival has been secured through a joint collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland as part of the key commemorations of the Rising.  Barnstorm will provide Master classes workshops, and readings of The Messenger over the weekend.

A Terrible Beauty: the Poetry of the Rising

Bloomsday will present A Terrible Beauty: the Poetry of the Rising, a six hander of poems by the leaders of the 1916 Rising, with dramatic biographical accounts interwoven through the readings.  A harpist and singers will accompany the readings.  The performance is written and directed by Liam Gillespie. This will be a Saturday performance only.


Born in the foothills of the remote Cork and Kerry mountains in the deep south of Ireland, Joe Lynch has been surrounded by storytellers and has become the storyteller. ‘My earliest memories are of Irish Joe Lynchsitting by the fire late at night, being fascinated, frightened and mesmerized by some of the ancient Celtic myths and legends told by the very best storytellers. They expanded our imaginations and transported us to other worlds.’ At this year’s National Celtic Festival Irish Joe Lynch will perform the ancient classics like ‘Oisin in Tir na nOg’ and ‘The Children of Lir’. He has become ‘The Seanachai’ (the storyteller), a privilege and a responsibility he knows well. Joe Lynch will be performing across the weekend.


A house of storytelling and story swapping!

Upstairs at the Grand Hotel, in cozy lounge storytellers will gather to share their passion for the spoken word. The Rambling House will be open across the weekend and will be hosted by our festival masters of poetry, language, theatre, and story.


Actor WorkshopJoin a forum where artists, performing at this year’s, gather to discuss and share their insights and inspirations from their diverse backgrounds and experiences. Jim Lawson, from Vessel Theatre, will host the forum, inviting us to delve into some of the themes emerging in the works performed over the weekend.






Actors HappyJoin the Trail of Celtic Tales and travel across the festival site visiting specially marked story telling spaces where you will be enchanted by Celtic legends for children. Renowned children’s storyteller, Jenny Tonzing, will bring these magical stories to life through costume, musicians and props and a touch of mystery! The Trail of Celtic Tales will be conducted across the weekend.


Niki Na Meadhra

Niki na Meadhra embodies the storyteller, in a warm, captivating and sometimes electrifying style. On her recent tour of Ireland, which included several storytelling festivals and shows in Cork and Dublin, the local seanchais claimed her as one of their own! She invites you to be transported to ancient Ireland and the lands of the Other People, to immerse yourself in tales of heroes, crones, tricksters and maidens. Expect hyperbole, extravagance and wonderment! Niki will be performing across the weekend, in the Rambling House and across the festival site!


Holy wells to Waterholes

This workshop draws on Marcia’s recent Master’s thesis and explores issues of belonging to place, through the medium of song writing. Marcia will explore what connects her to place in relation to her Irish immigrant ancestors and their subsequent relationships with the local Gunditjmara people.