Actor Mark Smith and Aisling O’Brien, his friend and longtime collaborator. “Mark has an amazing story. A lot has happened in his life. He has done some amazing things”

Making documentary theatre about his life has given the actor his first opportunity to tell his own story

Illustration from Don’t Worry Little Crab.

Plus a visual treat that doubles as an accessible parable about anxiety

Jo Mangan, curator for the Irish Society for Stage and Screen Designers. Photograph: Martin Maguire

An expressionistic form-bending film, giving an insight into the process and product of stage design

Emily Gravett’s black and white sketches for Matt Haig’s Evie and the Animals are expressive of a wide range of emotions

Humorous story gives an entirely different perspective on the much-maligned spider

 Pichon has been heavily involved in all aspects of the production, coming up with six original storylines for the two-act play

For the creator of the Tom Gates character, reader’s imagination is as important as her own in the books

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea provides an imaginative model for friendship and celebrating difference

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton, Thomas Taylor’s Malamander, Abi Elphinstone’s Rumblestar and A Girl Called Justice by (...)

“Kids like to get up early and to stay up late, which can make the festival day really long. So we were conscious that we could try and structure the day around the rhythm of a typical family day.”  Photograph: Anna Kerslake

Richard Seabrooke, the man behind the upcoming three-day Kaleidoscope festival, believes that cultural experiences can fire young (...)

Children from St Mary’s National School, Stepaside and Stepaside Educate Together who played a part in the design process to create a new play space at Fernhill Park and Gardens. Photograph: Alan Betson

Swings and roundabouts are not as important as freedom to experiment and take risks

“Work in the Visual Arts is so badly paid in Ireland – the average annual income is between €10,000 and €15,000 a year – that it is especially tricky to sustain a career, because you can’t afford childcare.”

A network, The Mothership Project, aims to develop supports for artists with children

Author Shane Hegarty. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A celebration of the natural world from Nicola Skinner and delightful illustrations by Angela Brooksbank

Lynn Haughton: ‘The most sustainable resources are the ones we have.’

Siblings Chris and Lynn Haughton are combining their commitment to ethical and sustainable design, and their love for the sea, to (...)

The King and I runs at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre at the end of the month.

How do you approach work that dances so dangerously with ideas of political correctness?

The Whistleblast Quartet (left to right): Conor Linehan (piano), Oonagh Keogh  (violin), Mary Curran (French horn), Ken Edge (clarinet and saxes)

Students are getting access to classical music with a little help from Whistleblast Quartet

Where Are You, Puffling? by Erika McGann and illustrated by Gerry Daly. A family of puffins gets a fright.

Gay dads, blended families, dealing with grief, a family of puffins and sibling dynamics

Sabina Redeva’s illustrated version of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species

Owls, frogs and bears feature in the latest kids’ books for all ages

The  project aims to explore the idea of creative engagement in schools

Programme aims to enable children’s creative potential

Sarah McIntyre’s Pictures Mean Business. Pictures “make stories come alive for children. When children pull a book off the shelf that they can’t read yet, they choose the book for the pictures.” Illustration: Sara McIntyre

Fed up of her work going uncredited in children’s books, Sarah McIntyre decided to act

Two Sides, by Polly Yo Hen and Binny Talib: readers will surely pore over again and again

Plus new reads from Polly Ho-Yen, Aitziber Lopez, Kate Pankhurst and Fiona Robinson

At the Ark: Kate Heffernan with members of the centre’s children’s council. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

No Child 2020: Put the kids in charge – how the Ark turned to children for ideas

Jon Agee’s “The Wall in the Middle of the Book” is a humorous exploration of fear.

Inese Zandere, David LaRochelle, Karen McCrombie, Lucy Stranger and Jon Agee

Former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt: Don’t cha just wish you could dance like her?

The inaugural festival of arts offers workshops for singers, dancers and musicians

Sam Copeland’s debut novel ‘Charlie Changes Into a Chicken’.

Lure your child back to the printed word with Alex Gardiner’s Mossbelly MacFearsome

Winter Funderland is at the RDS  in Dublin until January 13th. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Christmas Day is over, but there is still plenty to do with children before school restarts

Hopscotch and the Christmas Tree

Tamsin Lyons’s Ink and Light animation studio is bringing a message of mindfulness

Les Misérables: The ensemble cast move like tiny figures in a game played by the Gods

Hugo’s spiritually benevolent message rings loudly in this immersive, cinematic staging

Our hero is Boy, a large-headed, stick-limbed boy with a wondrous capacity for adventure.

If you have had enough of the flashing lights of the panto, this is the show for you

Sammy Claws: The Christmas Cat

A doubting Thomas, a young girl and a sheep save the day in our kids’ books round-up

We Are Going on a Bear Hunt at the Pavilion, Dún Laoghaire

Your one-stop Christmas events shop is here

The Snow Queen: Louise Bowden as the Gaiety panto’s icy diva

The Christmas show’s sheer spectacle makes up for a few weaknesses in the plot

A fox by Aga Grandowicz, one of the many stunning illustrations in Dr Hibernica Finch’s Compelling Compendium of Irish Animals (Little Island, €25)

Children’s books: from wood mice and red squirrels to beetles and termites, there’s plenty of nature in these new releases

Lauren Child: Hubert Horatio, from How to Raise Your Grown-Ups

Ideas take shape when the mind is drifting, so give kids room ‘to let their minds wander’

With the Pooka who is as furry and friendly-looking as a teddy, Shona Shirley Macdonald demystifies the idea of monsters for the skittish young reader

A lonely Pooka, an invasion of evil teddy bears and a witch from the Louisiana swamp all feature for Halloween

St Nicholas: Brendan Coyle in Conor McPherson’s play. Photograph: Helen Maybanks

Dublin Theatre Festival: Brendan Coyle stars in the Irish premiere of Conor McPherson’s 1997 play

Home Theatre (Ireland): Elaine Murphy in Caroline’s Wedding, for Rose Emmet

Dublin Theatre Festival: Intimate snapshots of life in Dublin 15 pair actors with locals. The results are top-notch

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo: classical poise becomes pantomime as they bring Swan Lake to life

Dublin Theatre Festival: The all-male ballet troupe blend dance and physical comedy

The Young King by Oscar Wilde,   presented by Dublin Theatre Festival and The Ark

Work made for children used to be rare, but there's now a rich bounty of shows

Eliza’s Adventures in the Uncanny Valley: Pan Pan explores the influence of artificial intelligence on our capacity to be human

Dublin Theatre Festival: The audience are stuck when a piece of theatre denies its characters humanity

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Amy Conroy and Paul Mescal in Rough Magic’s production. Photograph: Ste Murray

Dublin Theatre Festival: Rough Magic’s Joyce adaptation is refreshingly unconventional

The Mai: Derbhle Crotty is both tough and tender in what was Marina Carr’s first full-length play

Dublin Theatre Festival: Derbhle Crotty is moving as Marina Carr’s family figurehead

The Fattest Dancer at St Bernadette’s: Julian La Blanc and his unpredictable sidekicks. Photograph: Ste Murray

Dublin Fringe Festival: Thommas Kane Byrne stars in his reinvention of the one-man show

Confirmation: Xnthony stages his story as a confessional coming-of-age pop concert. Photograph: Brian Teeling

Dublin Fringe Festival: This musical memoir of growing up gay in rural Ireland is sonically stirring but lacks focus

Seahorse: Mara, the pregnant heroine of Christiane O’Mahony play, isn’t sure she is ready to hand over her life to a “tiny dictator”.  Photograph: Engin Akyurt

Dublin Fringe Festival: A few tweaks could give Christiane O’Mahony’s play a deservedly long life

Samira Elagoz’s story is an intimate one, but her performance is cool and detached. The overall effect is both very disturbing and immensely sad.

Dublin Fringe Festival: Why should a woman need safety procedures when encountering men she doesn’t know?

Jonathan Auxier’s “Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster” tells of a feisty child, Nan Sparrow, indentured to a vile master sweep.

Children’s fiction from Auxier, Burton, Doyle, Martin and Chambers

Christiane O’Mahony in ‘Seahorse’: ‘I thought, this would be a fun way to examine the anxieties of modern womanhood in Ireland: all the awkwardness, all the expectations that fall upon you’

Christiane O'Mahony's new play Seahorse centres around an unlikely feminist icon

Unwoman Part III: Olwen Fouéré in Maeve Stone and the Rabble’s live installation. Photograph: Patricio Cassinoni

Dublin Fringe Festival: Olwen Fouéré’s Unwoman is stuck in perpetual parturition

Susie and the Story Shredder: Clodagh Mooney Duggan and Matthew Malone bring youthful vim to the stage. Photograph: Neil O’Driscoll

Dublin Fringe Festival: Painful puns, silly dances, perfectly judged audience interaction

Demelza and Nessa in Gabrielle Kent’s ‘Knights and Bikes’.

Authors’ imaginations run riot in this selection of children’s books

Jarlath Tivnan, Maria McDermottroe and Pat Shortt in Martin McDonagh’s “A Skull in Connemara” directed by Andrew Flynn, Decadent Theatre. Photograph: Darragh Kane

Decadent Theatre’s production draws out darkness of McDonagh’s Gothic work

Theatre Lovett’s ‘Frnknstn’ by Michael West, at the Abbey Theatre from August 17th to  September 1st. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

‘Frnkstn’, at the Abbey Theatre, reanimates the monster for a new generation

A Dublin Fairytale: “Look, there’s Trinity College of Sorcery”

Five Irish children’s books that will lead you on a summer family adventure

The Dodo Made Me Do It: an extinct bird is more troublesome than Jo Simmons’s hero could have imagined

Children’s books: new stories from Eirlys Hunter, Ruth Quayle, Jarvis and Jo Simmons

Based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this asks who was the Wicked Witch of the West?

Cymbeline Igloo, the hero of Boy Underwater by Adam Baron is  marked out by his classmates for being different.

An alien warrior, handling grief, and a boy who loves pairs are among this month’s highlights

Neither freak show nor side show, disability is now centre stage

Production at Carlow Arts Festival puts artists, disabled and non-disabled, on stage together

The Yark: a child-chomping beast stalks through suburban bedrooms across the globe looking for a decent meal.

Children’s fiction covers all the basics from child-eating monsters, to nature and grief

Pure, mesmerising storytelling: Shane O’Regan in ‘Private Peaceful’

The storyteller presents war, peace and the human condition through a lens of realism

Struggling with maths? Need to relax? Or just want adventure? These books cater for all

Roald Dahl’s novel may be 30 years old, but this adaptation from the Royal Shakespeare Company resonates chillingly

Sarah Bowie’s ‘We’re Going to the Zoo’

Sara Keating selects the best new books for children

I’m a Girl!: for the heroine of Yasmeen Ismail’s book her sex is a point of pride, even if it defies stereotype and the expectations of those around her

From picture books to YA fiction, it’s a great time to be a girl who loves to read

Ian Lloyd Anderson (Jack) and Kate Stanley Brennan  (Nora) in  ‘The Plough and the Stars’ by Sean O’Casey.  Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

This month sees Ireland’s national theatre playing in London, and its British equivalent coming to Dublin

Mythical beasts lurking in the ocean; an anxious panda bear; a lone wolf on the run; raggedy witches rustling through the trees; a(...)

Deirdre Kinahan: “People ask ‘How do you feel about being on the main stage?’ I say bring it on.” Photograph: Shane Cowley

In 2018, a diversity of Irish women’s voices will take their place on the national stage

 The Weaver by Quian Shi is a story about a spider called Stanley and his quest to weave a web he can call home

Sara Keating selects the best new books for children

Children enjoying performances at the  Wide Eyes arts festival, hosted by Baboró, in Galway. Photograph: Anita Murphy

Wide Eyes Festival brings performing arts into the hearts of the very young

Fourth class pupils at St Clare’s Primary School in Harold’s Cross, Dublin, with Arts Council director Orlaith McBride and writer Siobhán Parkinson. The Writers in Schools programme recently celebrated its 40th birthday. Photograph:  Andres Poveda

An education scheme is helping children see writers as living, breathing people rather than mythical beats

Mark O’Rowe: 'You remember that making theatre is less about precision than bringing something to life.' Photograph: Alan Betson

Mark O’Rowe’s latest play ‘The Approach’ was triggered by three women in his head

Frida Nilsson’s “The Ice Sea Pirates” is set on a series of imaginary islands in the Arctic. Its heroine is 10-year-old Siri, a storyteller supreme. Photograph: Cory Glencross/iStock/Getty

Frida Nilsson’s great Arctic tale unfolds packed ice and inky skies

In this story - based on the autobiography of Maria von Trapp - the family escapes across the mountains.

Irish stars Lucy O’Byrne and Celine Byrne shine in the iconic story

Here’s our first look reviews at the early season shows

Photograph: IStock

From the moral to the humorous, there’s plenty of seasonal books to choose from

A round-up of events for families and children during the festive season

We Travel So Far

These books for children of all ages are beautifully illustrated and touch on a number of issues

‘Harry Potter: A World of Magic’ is a lavishly illustrated coffee-table book

A new British Museum exhibit places Rowling’s fiction beside the cultural traditions that inspired it

From ‘The Worms that Saved the World’ by Kevin Doyle and Spark Deeley

There are no parents in ‘The Wonderling’, a stand-out debut by Mira Bartok

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina receive representatives of Poetry Ireland to mark its 40th anniversary and Children’s Books Ireland to mark its 20th anniversary, with from left; Theo Dorgan, Siobhan Parkinson and PJ Lynch at Áras an Uachtaráin.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sara Keating asks five debut authors appearing at this weekend’s 20th anniversary event five questions about their work

‘Through the Gate’ by Sally Fawsett tells a story that any child who has experienced change will be able to relate to

Sara Keating picks her favourites for children and young adults

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls  aims to counter  gender bias by providing 100 female role models  in a series of short bedtime tales

What does it do girls’ ambition if they they are reduced to silent ciphers or pretty princesses? Several new books for young reade(...)

‘There’s a Walrus in My Bed’ by Ciara Flood looks at many toddlers’ fear of sleeping alone

One new title is an instant classic from two giants of the genre

Patrick and the President (Walker Books, £12.99) is a collaboration between the current Laureate na nÓg, PJ Lynch, and broadcaster Ryan Tubridy. It tells the story of John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963 through the eyes of a young boy, Patrick.

A collaboration between PJ Lynch and Ryan Tubridy serves up JFK’s visit with Swiss roll

Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore: Lotte Tickner, Jude Owusu and Fionn Gill in Gary Owen’s play. Photograph: Helen Murray

Children are interested in the same ideas as adults, the director of ‘Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore’ says. You just have to pre(...)

A local library in Lampedusa saw firsthand how wordless books opened up an opportunity for refugees to share worlds and experiences with each other

An initiative to help refugee children on the Italian island of Lampedusa is now a touring exhibition in Ireland

Dawn O’Porter: the accessibility of her writing style will cement The Cows’ popularity. Photograph: Jenny Sharif

Dawn O’Porter’s novel about feminism in the age of social media will appeal to millennials

 Derbhle Crotty: capturing her character’s rich history. Photograph: Bryan Meade

Derbhle Crotty and Denis Conway reach deep for this portrait of middle-aged despair

Owen Roe finds something close to charm in the brutal character of Nicolas. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Harold Pinter’s vicious play is all about the oppressors. How can cruelty and civility sit so comfortably together?

Sit and ponder: stone bench at Coole. Photograph: Ron Rosenstock

Image enhances wordplay in two revamped classics and a multilingual haiku meditation

Children’s writer and illustrator Judith Kerr: “Everything I have done in my work is autobiographical in one way or another. Taking ideas from cats I’ve known, or my childhood, or something I came up with to entertain my children.”

Archive: A 2017 interview with the late, much-loved creator of The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the Mog picture-books,who wrote about(...)

“It was women who had the power”: Susie Lamb in Horae: Fragments of a Sacred History of Prostitution

Susie Lamb’s show ‘Horae’ asks whether an ancient tradition can be comprehensible to a 21st-century crowd

John MacKenna: His “writing has an unshowy humility despite the potentially epic reach of the stories”. Photograph: Piotr Kwasnik

Disciples of a martyred leader hold fast to ‘fairytales and bullshit’ in John MacKenna’s stories

Khan alternates the astronauts’ present predicament with flashbacks to their lives in Europia, a futuristic self-styled utopia

Katie Khan’s debut novel charts plight of lovers cast adrift in space from utopian home

Lisa Carey: draws on Irish folklore and mythology to explore the extremity of human behaviour

An eerie tale set on a fictional Irish island casts a spell that never loosens its grip

  Kevin Barry recommended “iBird Cloud”, the 2011 memoir by American novelist Annie Proulx, on Alexi. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Alexi app invites well-known authors and critics to choose favourite digital books

Big The Musical at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre  in Dublin

A huge encore and digital momentum add colour and noise but children might struggle to see anything fun about being an adult in th(...)

Lisa Dwan: physically lithe and emotionally supple as the doomed, unhappy heroine

A fresh adaptation by Marina Carr offers an ensemble piece rather than a star vehicle and is all the better for it

Clodagh Mooney Duggan in The Snow Queen at Smock Alley Theatre. Photograph: Ste Murray

From panto to ice skating and from circuses to concerts, here is your guide to the best children’s entertainment this winter

A Christmas Carol at the Ark. Photograph:  Ros Kavanagh

The invention at the heart of this show makes it an excellent way to introduce the spookiest of seasonal stories

The Gaiety delivers top-notch performances and production standards in a show that’s not afraid to take risks

Aladdin (Tom Moran) with Dame Lola (Liam Butler) and Wishee (Colin Hughes) in  Aladdin at the Helix Theatre, Dublin

Disney’s lawyers might want to challenge TheatreWorx to a dance off to settle their scores

Supporters of the Waking The Feminists campaign on the Rosie Hackett bridge in Dublin on Monday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

To mark first anniversary of Waking The Feminists, Gender equality campaigners add 10 points to debate

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