Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a collaborative production by three primary schools in the Galloon area, premièred at the Ardhowen Theatre last week on Thursday, April 29 and ran for a total of two nights. As many as 100 children from St. Mary's Newtownbutler, St. Joseph's Donagh and Newtownbutler Controlled Primary Schools took part.

A matinee performance also took place for younger pupils attending the three schools.

The project was part of the Shared Education Programme and is funded by Fermanagh Trust on behalf of Atlantic Philanthropy and the International Fund for Ireland.

Charlie was played by Joseph Curran, Willie Wonka was played by Niamh Kearns and Grandpa Joe was played by Madison Phair. Augustus Gloop and his mother Mrs Gloop played by Stewart Wiggins and Emma Elliott. Veruca Salt, Mike Teavee and Violet Beaureguarde were played by Sophie O'Connor, Adam Tierney and Kyra Carey.

The rest of the main cast comprised children from the three schools as a variety of mothers, fathers, narrators and spies. This endless list of characters are supported by numerous Oompa Loompas, Squirrels and Chocolate River Kids.

One of the school principals, Mrs. Paula Kelly, of St. Mary's Primary School, said that they had received fantastic feedback from the two capacity audiences at the Ardhowen last week.

"There was a great atmosphere. The children developed friendships which hopefully will grow with more Shared Education projects," she said.

For many children, it was not only their first time on the Ardhowen stage, but their first time to visit the theatre in Enniskillen.

St. Mary's started the Shared Education project in September, working initially on film-making and animation. Pupils from P5-P7 rehearsed constantly over the last few months and enlisted the aid of drama facilitators, singing and dance tutors and art specialists to give a professional gloss to the performances. "The Shared Education funding allowed the opportunity to get those people on board, allowing us to produce something that would have not been possible within the existing resources," said Mrs. Kelly.

The principal guidelines of the Fermanagh Trust's funding for projects like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory are set out in its website and can be summarized as follows: "The Shared Education Programme provides opportunities for schools in Fermanagh to explore cross sectoral / cross community initiatives that will benefit their schools and communities. Its aim is to develop linkages between schools from different sectors and to build bridges between our two main communities, contributing to increased understanding and mutual respect and helping to build more cohesive and sustainable communities in Fermanagh".