“Just a wee taste.” Whether you’re talking cake or wine it’s the phrase employed by most of us here in Derry if we want to indulge just a little.
The “wee taste” concept was used in a very different setting this week as audiences packed Derry’s Playouse and the theatre at Oakgrove College to watch outstanding performances from Derry actresses Carmel McCafferty and Gemma Walker.
The story explores the issue of underage drinking through the eyes of Jenni, a thirteen year-old who wants to be like everyone else. Under stunning direction by Shauna Kelpie, the story has captivated parents and teenagers and driven home strong messages about underage drinking.
A collaboration between alcohol awareness group Drinkthink and Sole Purpose Productions, the play is the subject of discussions about bringing it to a wider audience across the North West. Joanne Smith, Drinkthink Manager, said organisers were delighted with the turnout at both this week’s performances.
“We got really great feedback,” says Joanne.
“We thought it might be difficult to convince people to come out to an alcohol-free evening but people turned up and the performances in Oakgrove and the Playhouse were really interesting. From the question and answer session we held afterwards, we could tell that a lot of the mums and dads who turned out were genuinely interested in finding out more about underage drinking and how they could get advice and support.
“The play is a great way to get people talking about this. Obviously at times some of the teenagers get a bit giddy but the play still gets them talking and engaging and that’s what it’s all about.”
After the play parents were treated to an evening of ‘mocktails,’ otherwise known as non-alcoholic cocktails.
“We did up a drinks menu and people were surprised at the kind of alcohol -ree drinks they could relax with. We started doing mocktails for expectant mums who were getting tired of having to stick to the same fizzy drinks and people are always pleasantly surprised at how nice they are.”
Practical advice and information was given to parents who attended both nights and Joanne and her colleagues say the way in which underage drinking is approached is vital.
“We don’t want to come across as being preachy so if we can get the information across as part of a nice trip to the theatre, that’s great. A lot of the parents say at the weekend they may not go out but instead have drinks in the house. People may not be aware, but if they’re drinking themselves they’re not as able to spot alcohol consumption in their teenagers and in many cases the teenagers might choose the night they know their parents will be having a drink.
“The play was so brilliantly produced and acted and we’re delighted at how it’s helping us raise awareness of underage drinking in a way that’s so accessible.”
Joanne is hopeful that the play will be shown again.
“It’s not corny, it’s very realistic, and we think it’s important that as many people as possible see it so we hopefully we will get the opportunity to show it to parents who have missed out.”