Eaman at home playing George Knox in McNaghten drama

Derry actor, rapper and all round talent Eaman Craig AKA MC Wileman. 1410Jb03 Eaman Craig
Derry actor, rapper and all round talent Eaman Craig AKA MC Wileman. 1410Jb03 Eaman Craig

Actor Eaman Craig, better known as Derry MC Wileman takes to the stage as George Knox in the Wood of the Crows: The story of half Hanged McNaghten next month.

Shortly after, the Playhouse production Wileman will release his debut album.

Eaman was delighted at having secured the role. “There is a definite sense of history in Derry people that other places just don’t have. People have a real love of their heritage here and I think that shines through in the cast and the play.”

Described as a “romantic tragedy,” The Wood of the Crows charts the story of Mary Ann Knox, her lover McNaghten, his attempted abduction and subsequent fatal wounding of the 15 year old girl.

Popular folklore suggests that John was attempting to run away and elope with her.

At his trial John claimed that the shooting was an accident however he was sentenced to death and so aggrieved at he loss of his beloved, threw himself from the gallows with such force that the rope broke. As a result McNaghten was offered to have his life spared however he responded along the lines of; ‘No for I would only live to be known as half hanged McNaghten.’ John then reclimbed the gallows and faced his death sentence.

That was in 1761, the name he feared has yet to leave him.

Eaman, who comes from Marlbrorough Road has; “read everything I could get my hands on in preparation for the role. My character is essentially McNaghtens nemisis, Mary Ann’s father Andrew had a soft spot for John but my character seems a little more selfish. He is a real man about town. What really shocked me is how different people’s attitudes have become.

“At the time of her death Mary Ann was 15, McNaghten 37 but the relationship, at least in its early stages wasn’t frowned upon.

“I’m really enjoying the play and the process. It is a period drama with a lot of black humour thrown through it. Above all though it is an exciting story.”

The artist is certainly busy as between rehearsals for Wood of the Crows, he is in post production with his debut album, ‘The Antidote.’

Wileman believes The Antidote; “is a new form of music,” that he and his band The Players have recorded.

“It is something which hasn’t been done. It mixes Jazz and rap in a free style. It is something that has never been done before I’m really excited by it.”

The album was almost accidental according to Eaman.

“I was asked to play a few songs with David Lyttle at one of his gigs on the back of that we got a phone call from Rory Donaghy from The Blast Furnace who asked us to spend some time in the studio. The album developed from there.

“I’m really looking forward to getting a copy of it in my hands, It is a lot different to anything I’ve done before. There is a freedom in the way we play and it just works. It is a real progression for me.

“It really is brave and exciting. I have a real sense of excitement at the minute with everything that is going on and I hope we can get ‘The Antidote’ out there.

“ A lot of bands in Derry burn out quickly but I want to have the album out there and get a bigger presence. I really want to build a fan base and some momentum for 2012.”

Eamon Craig stars in The Playhouse production of ‘The Wood of The Crows - The story of half hanged McNaghten’ By Stan McGowan from Tuesday November 15 to Saturday 19th.