17th century Derry to be re-enacted at Playhouse

'Walking to the Ark' cast members Tara Breathnach and Dermott Hickson with 'Billy Braveheart' on Derry's Walls.

'Walking to the Ark' cast members Tara Breathnach and Dermott Hickson with 'Billy Braveheart' on Derry's Walls.

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The Playhouse in Derry has announced the cast for ‘Walking to the Ark’, their major legacy commission for 2015.

Carlo Gébler, the eldest son of writing aristocracy, Ernest Gébler and Edna O’Brien, has been commissioned by The Playhouse to write a new piece exploring the Siege of Derry.

Tara Breathnach will take one of the starring roles in  'Walking to the Ark' at The Playhouse next month.

Tara Breathnach will take one of the starring roles in 'Walking to the Ark' at The Playhouse next month.

To help announce the new 2013 legacy funded play, horse breader John McCauley, from Culmore Point, arranged for the majestic ‘Billy Braveheart’ to take up the role of a 17th century military horse for a day.

Billy Braveheart took a tour of Bishop Street and Derry’s historic walls with cast members Tara Breathnach and Dermott Hickson.

Also announced for the cast is British/French actor Peter Hudson, best known for his role as a recurring villain in the series ‘Highlander’ and the Canadian series ‘Grandstar’.

Tara Breathnach studied at The Royal Welsh College of Music of Drama and the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin. Her television and film work includes the role of Tina in TG4’s ‘Ros na Rún’, Ann Boleyn in a BBC docu-drama series, ‘Holby City’ (BBC), ‘Fair City’ (RTE), ‘The Tudors’ (Showtime) and ‘Tracy Beaker’ (BBC).

Dermott Hickson, who trained at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York, was recently seen in in BBC’s ‘6 Degrees’ and Colin Bateman’s TG4 and BBC show ‘Scúp’.

Peter Hudson’s most recently played the US President in ‘Lockout’, directed by James Mather and has a recurring role in the French series ‘Men of Shadows’.

Tara, Dermott and Peter will star in The Playhouse production ‘Walking to the Ark’, which tells the story of Colonel Thomas Whitney, soldier in the Irish army, and his mistress Martha.

Twenty-five years after fathering a child by his mistress, Colonel Whitney finds himself inside Derry during the 1689 siege when his son, a Jacobite, arrives in the city, a prisoner.

In this brand new piece, which will run at The Playhouse from Wednesday, May 27, to Saturday, May 30, Gébler explores the horrible choices war forces individuals to make, as well as the ingenious way Whitney and his son, Nicholas, manage to make common cause.

The award-winning Hamilton Flute Band will also provide original composition for the play.

Carlo Gébler started his career in television and made a number of documentary films for Channel 4 and others including ‘Over Here’, ‘Plain Tales from Northern Ireland’, ‘Put to the Test’, ‘Student Life’, and ‘The Suspecting Glance’.

‘The Siege’ (2013), focusing on the 1689 Siege of Derry, which he wrote and presented, recently aired on BBC Northern Ireland.

Gébler is also the author of several novels including ‘The Eleventh Summer’ (1985); ‘How to Murder a Man’ (1998); ‘A Good Day For A Dog’ (2008) and, most recently, ‘The Dead Eight’ (2011), which was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. He has also written several novels for children, as well as several plays for both radio and the stage.

Director Kieran Griffiths said: “A story of war, famine, siege, and a family in crisis, are all married together with an original composition supported by the award winning Hamilton Flute Band and penned by one of Northern Ireland’s finest writers, Carlo Gébler, this a formula for a great night of exciting theatre.”

Tickets for the play are priced £15/ £12 and are available from The Playhouse Box Office on (028)71268027 or online at www.derryplayhouse.co.uk.