A new play by Derry author, Jonathan Burgess, examines the transition period from the RUC to the PSNI and is to tour Northern Ireland this month.
‘Crows on the Wire’ will open on Wednesday at Derry’s Verbal Arts Centre, which commissioned the piece.
The play is set in the locker room of an unnamed RUC station as last hours tick down on the force. It allows us to meet those most affected by the transition - RUC members. The author admits: “It is a delicate subject but it is not told in an attempt to whitewash or sensationalise the issue.”
“I think it is about getting behind the badge and seeing officers as human beings. Then we can examine the impact those changes had on officers and their families.
“The jobs undertaken by these officers were big and difficult. These people weren’t machines - they, like us all, were flawed human beings.
“There was a great sense of dissatisfaction and sadness at the disbandment. It is still a sore subject for former officers to be discuss.
“A police force is a reactive thing so changes to policing would have, argue former members, been a natural thing.
“I think the play gives a human voice to what were until now unheard stories of serving officers whose personal lives and families became severely fractured through the turmoil of the troubles.
“I wanted to vocalise that story.”
Asked why those in the nationalist community should attend, Jonathan said: “The play is provocative and controversial but I haven’t put lies into the mouths of the actors.
“I think in many ways we are still negotiating our way out of the Troubles on an individual basis. I believe theatre provides the perfect space to explore the issues we, society, are dealing with. I think it allows us to explore them from another person’s point of view.”
Jonathan is a busy man. He’s also directing the Millennium Forum panto and Sam Starrett’s play ‘Home in Time for Christmas’ at The Waterside Theatre in November.
‘Birds on the Wire’ opens at the Verbal Arts Centre on Wednesday November 6.