Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Coming Up: The Far Side of Revenge - Theatre of Witness documentary screening

This May Banbridge District Council has invited The Playhouse Theatre of Witness to deliver a screening of its work in Banbridge and invites audiences to bear witness to a powerful humanizing documentary about its work.

The Council's Good Relations Programme will offer a free screening of THE FAR SIDE OF REVENGE, a documentary that explores artistic director Teya Sepinuck’s engagement among a group of Northern Irish women from extraordinary backgrounds and histories. The film will be screened at The Old Town Hall, Banbridge on Tuesday May 6 at 7.30pm followed by a facilitated discussion with cast members.

Theatre of Witness is a form of performance that gives voice to those who have been marginalised, forgotten or are invisible in society.  Their true, life stories, performed by the people themselves, are shared onstage so that audiences can collectively bear witness to issues of suffering, redemption and social justice.

The film, by local filmmaker Margo Harkin, brings insight into a process of creation of this ground-breaking type of theatre, where the pain of individual stories are counterbalanced by the joyful bond that deepens between the women over a nine-month period.

Kathleen, whose husband and 5 British soldiers were blown up by the IRA in 1990, now performs on stage with Anne, a former quartermaster in the IRA whose uncle was killed by the British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday in 1972.  Under Teya’s guidance six cast members allow themselves to reveal the deep emotions that can only now be explored in post-conflict Northern Ireland.

“Under Teya’s direction this project is an adventure in human relations that surprises even the performers of this most unusual form of public expression”  Dolores Donnelly, Banbridge District Council's Good Relations Officer said.

“These are women from backgrounds and histories so diverse that it would be difficult to envision them sharing a space, let alone creating a public, cultural event together thus resulting in a very powerful and emotional piece of work”.

The film has already been screened in Belfast, Dublin, the Chicago Film Festival and received the Light In Motion Best Documentary Award at the 2012 Foyle Film Festival.

For more information or to reserve your seat please contact Marion Mitchell on (028) 4066 0605 or email marion.mitchell@banbridge.gov.uk

Monday, 28 April 2014

Coming Up: Flesh & Blood Women at the Grand Opera House

In what is believed to be the first-ever all-female, home-produced theatre production in the history of Northern Irish theatre, Flesh & Blood Women is about to set the Grand Opera House alight in early May, running from Wednesday 7th – Saturday 24th May.
Green Shoot promise an exhilarating night at the theatre with the production consisting of three hard hitting short plays written by Dawn Purvis, Brenda Murphy and Jo Egan.

Writing for the theatre for the first time, in her play Picking Up Worms, former Progressive Unionist Party leader Dawn Purvis tells a story from the 1970s about a child’s reflection of events on a street in Belfast during the Ulster Worker’s Strike in 1974.

Ballymurphy playwright and writer of the award-winning A Night With George, Brenda Murphy, tells the extraordinary true story of her mother having 11 children, six to a married man who lived around the corner with his own family.  In Two Sore Legs the former Republican prisoner uses her trademark Belfast humour to tell this very personal story, told from her mother’s perspective.

After last year's success as the writer/ director of Crimea Square, voted winner of the Audience Awards at the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen'sJo Egan’s play Sweeties will tell the stunning story of two sisters with conflicting memories about a life-changing incident from their childhood. Sweeties is based on Jo’s original oral research with Belfast women.

Flesh & Blood Women is unique in that it is the first production in the history of Northern Irish theatre where everyone involved is a woman. From writers to designers, from producer to director and stage management to marketers – believe it or not – it’s never happened before. In total, nineteen women will be involved at all levels of production.

The company are especially thrilled to have acquired the services of Coronation Street actress and director, Noreen Kershaw. Noreen won a BAFTA for directing the controversial Coronation Street storyline about the rape of Carla Connor. She has also directed episodes of Shameless and Emmerdale.

The all female cast includes Kerri Quinn, Maria Connolly, Rosie McClelland and Kat Regan.

For more information and to book tickets please click here.


Friday, 18 April 2014

Coming Up: How Many Miles to Babylon? at the Lyric Belfast

The First World War Centenary is commemorated in dramatic fashion at the Lyric Theatre with a stirring adaptation of Jennifer Johnston’s novel How Many Miles to Babylon? this Spring.

Rehearsals are well underway with an impressive line-up of Irish and English actors bringing the Londonderry author’s “brilliant masterpiece” to the stage for the first time in Northern Ireland.

Anthony Delaney (Alec) and Ryan McParland (Jerry) in rehearsals
How Many Miles to Babylon? tells the heart-rending story of two young Irish boys from very different backgrounds who end up fighting in Flanders. Alec and Jerry are divided by class but united in friendship. One is the only child of Anglo-Irish landowners; the other is from a large family of Irish workers. Brought together by a shared love of horses, the pair enjoy an idyllic childhood on the same estate in County Wicklow.

As war breaks out at the end of 1914, both enlist in the army - and find themselves standing together, yet divided once more by rank. In the fields of Flanders, they must not only endure the horrors of the battlefield, but also face an ordeal that will test their friendship and their loyalty to breaking point.  The dramatic tale has been adapted by Irish actor and current Artistic Director of the PICT theatre in Pittsburgh, Alan Stanford.

How Many Miles to  Babylon full cast
Philip Wilson directs an impressive cast with Good Vibrations star Ryan McParland taking on the role of the charismatic Jerry and Anthony Delaney (Liola, The Kingdom) as Alec. Lyric audiences may also remember Ryan from Tim Loane’s The Civilisation Game in 2012 as well as the BBC series, 6 Degrees set in Belfast.

Catherine Cusack, part of the Irish acting dynasty of Cusacks, plays the cold mother, Alicia Moore opposite Michael James Ford (Becoming Jane; Michael Collins) as her husband. The rest of the cast are Richard Teverson (Brideshead Revisited; Downton Abbey) as Major Glendinning, Jeremy Lloyd (The Iron Lady) as Bennett and Charlie De Bromhead (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People).

Director Philip Wilson
“I came across Jennifer Johnston’s novel some years back, when I was researching another First World War story, and her delicate yet heartbreaking account of how young Irish men faced the unimaginable in the trenches has stayed with me ever since,” said the director, Philip Wilson.

“So I leapt at the chance to stage Alan Stanford’s poignant and richly evocative adaptation of this classic novel. Alec and Jerry’s friendship – which transcends education, class and religion – is a wonderfully compelling one, and the journey they go on together is truly remarkable.”

How Many Miles to Babylon? runs on the Danske Bank Stage, Lyric Theatre from Wed 30 April to Sat 24 May (Previews Sun 27 April 2.30pm; Tues 29 April 1pm & 7.45pm)

For more information and booking, please click here.

Image credits: Brian Morrison