Only when you look at the detail of Protestant life, says 7:84’s GORDON LAIRD, do you start making sense of Belfast’s battles. Wor'rls' Davie Archibald
The former Northern lrish nationalist MP Bernadette Devlin perfectly summed up the typical Belfast Protestant approach to (‘atholics as ‘tuppence ha‘penny looking down at tuppence‘. It's a phrase that captures the economic similarities between both communities who receive equal doses of poverty in the province. Yet it also reflects the superior attitude at the heart of l 'nionism.
l‘or many. the right of the ()range Order to make its pilgrimage to its traditional place of worship represents an annual opportunity to march through ('atholic housing estates and lord it over the neighbours. from a liberal perspective it‘s a space where two 'rights' collide. The right to free speech and open assetnbly versus the
right In Iiw free from ‘We think we’ve got an affinity institutiomrlised sectarianism. lt‘s What’s going on but we don’t know the full extent of it. It “mm” “” m?" seemed black and white, but It’s not at all.’
a conflict that lends itself to dratna and so 7284's Scottish premiere of Gary Mitchell‘s .l/ur'r'lrr'rrg ()n will be eagerly anticipated by audiences on this side of the Irish Sea.
Numerous plays have dealt with "l‘he Troubles' from a (‘atholic perspective. bttt Mitchell. a playwright from North Belfast‘s predominantly Protestant Rathcoole estate. draws on his own experience to bring out the contradictory opinions within the Protestant community and explore the dynamics at work within contemporary L'nionism.
Set in the claustrophobic enviromnent of a solitary
house. the play traces the conflicting approaches of
three generations of a Protestant family. When the local ()range walk is re-routed. the respectable grandfather stages a peaceful protest to assert his right to march. His son. an Rl'C' officer. is caught in
Having sect on the couch: Marching On
the crossfire when he has to enforce the decision. And his grandson takes to rioting in the streets.
‘lt’s a great play.‘ says 7:84 director (iordon Laird. ‘lt‘s a microcosm of the conflict that is raging outside. You see each different character as a representation of individuals outwith the house. l’rom Gary‘s point of view his reason for writing the play is to say that fora long time the Loyalist community has been seen as the oppressor. And to a large extent. yes. they have been. although within that not everybody is the oppressor.
Matters lrish have always attracted great interest in Scotland. and it‘s pertinent that one character is a Scot who becomes embroiled in events that he does not really understand. l‘or Laird it sums tip the superficial analysis that tnany Scots bring to the problem. ‘We think we've got a great affinity and empathy with what's going on.‘ he says. ‘But we don't know the full extent of it. The research has been absolutely fascinating for myself. Before it seemed really black and white. but it‘s not at all.‘
With a group of six actors. including High Road‘s Derek Lord. this production is a stylised slice-of-life drama that
solutions. leaving the audience to draw the conclusions. But Laird suggests that an appeal for tolerance lies at the heart of the play. 'You do learn at the end of it that you have got to have tolerance in society.‘ he says. 'Antagonism is not the way to go about things.’
Despite the specificity of its setting. Laird highlights the productions universality. ‘lt‘s a fascinating look into how secrets are withheld.' he says. ‘And about the inability to be honest which is mirrored in the larger community in Belfast. But it‘s also about family and family structures. and everyone can identify with that.’
Marching On, Paisley Arts Centre, Thu 29—Sat 31 Mar, then touring.
The talk of the green room
WHISPERS WAS AT Glasgow's Arches recently for the launch of In Yer Face Theatre (Faber £9.99). a new book by Aleks Sierz. This is a valuable read to anyone interested in new writing over the last few years. Examining the work of such emergent talents as Mark Ravenhill, the late Sarah Kane and Scotland's Anthony Neilson, Sierz considers common elements of shock used by these and many other writers since the mid-90$. But the title shouldn’t mislead you into thinking that the book creates one of those bogus ‘schools‘ of theatre that critics are so fond of inventing. The beauty of the book is that it places these writers within a tradition of British theatre, dating back to the creation of the Lord Chamberlain, all the way through to those who fought against this institution’s abolition in the 605 and beyond. An instructive, engaging and accessible read, the book achieves its effect through the avoidance of easy pigeon-holing.
SA R All
AND SPE AKlN(3 ()l fSarah Kano. ll ,rou noorl a r;l'r‘;r;r rrxr'r at thr; work of illl‘, trariruall, short Irv/(xi author, hm Corrrp/ofo Man/3, arr; no.1 avarlahlo (Mnthtrun 5‘11” ’l‘rr. The ‘r‘./llt(,‘l' of ﬂatter]. Phaedra}; / ovo anrl (Haw: among others. has, at. [)axlrl Grerg'r; astute intro luntrrrn points out. often heart. understood through thr; ta'trrorrl controversres her work r;r‘r,-atr:'l. rather than the actual thr;rr.at.r, centent of the plays. for all their frequently corrrlernnr/J violence those ‘.‘.rorl<f; ’,’)lll€tl.’l a Spartan lyrrcrsrn that rvrakrzf; them worth both rearlrnr} and performing.
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