‘Divided City’ at Millennium Forum

St Johns PS pupils Caoln Williamson, Aodhfin McLaughlin, Eoin McGinley, Una McBride, Calvin McCourt and Gareth McCafferty who are performing in the schools production "Divded City".  (2202Jb15)
St Johns PS pupils Caoln Williamson, Aodhfin McLaughlin, Eoin McGinley, Una McBride, Calvin McCourt and Gareth McCafferty who are performing in the schools production "Divded City". (2202Jb15)

A musical adaptation of a critically-acclaimed novel set against the backdrop of the Orange marching season will be staged at Derry’s Millennium Forum on March 4 and 5.

“Divided City” is being presented by the Shared City Collegiate (SCC), a project that evolved from the Foyle Contested Space Programme which comprises five primary and three post-primary schools across the city.

In all, nine schools are involved in the actual production which is being staged as part of the City of Culture celebrations.

The schools are: St Cecilia’s College, St Joseph’s Boys’ School, St Mary’s College, Lisneal College, Ballougry PS, St John’s PS, Holy Child PS, Lisnagelvin PS and Ebrington PS.

Adapted for the stage by Martin Travers with a score composed by Claire McKenzie, the story - by author Theresa Breslin - tells the gripping tale of two boys who must find their own answers in a divided world.

It is set against the backdrop of the loyalist marching season and tells how Joe, a Celtic fan, and Graham, a Rangers supporter, get drawn into a secret pact to help an illegal immigrant make contact with his girlfriend when all they really want to do in play football for Glasgow City - a team that welcomes players from all traditions.

Geraldine O’Connor, principal of St John’s PS and co-ordinator of the SCC, says that, while the story is set in Glasgow, there are “striking parallels” with Derry.

“The production is one of a kind and has been a massive undertaking for the principals, staff, parents and children” she said. “This project has enabled adults and children alike to explore contentious issues, discuss values and attitudes that underpin sectarianism and voice opinions and observations in a safe and non-judgmental way, thereby enabling us to challenge and change behaviour inherent in sectarianism.”

The schools are currently rotating weekly rehearsals which involve 150 children and teachers.

Funds from the ‘Divided City’ programme will support the four main churches’ project to present every family in the city with a copy of St Luke’s Gospel.