‘Thirteen Steps’ marks the closure of the Workhouse

Cast members Deigh Reid, Micheal McDaid, Francis Harkin, Mickey Kelly, who will play male paupers, and Paul O Doherty who will play the master and P�l McLoone, who will play the clerk, rehearsing on the new revolving stage.
Cast members Deigh Reid, Micheal McDaid, Francis Harkin, Mickey Kelly, who will play male paupers, and Paul O Doherty who will play the master and P�l McLoone, who will play the clerk, rehearsing on the new revolving stage.

Derry’s Playhouse is set to tell the tale of the city’s Workhouse poor, just as the Waterside’s Workhouse Museum has closed its doors for the last time.

Many years of experience treading the boards make up the 24 strong cast for The Playhouse’s production of ‘Thirteen Steps’ by Patrick Durnin, which opens in May.

The wide-ranging list of local talent, many of whom are playing more than one role, includes Francis Harkin, Gerry Doherty, Greta McTeague, Micheal McDaid, Shonagh Lyons, Roisin Connelly, Chris McIvor, Maureen Wilkinson, Rachel Melaugh, Muire McCallion, Eileen McMaster, Brendan Vaudequin, Pól McCloone, Mickey Kelly, Paul Doherty, Peter Davidson and Shaun Coyle.

The cast will work under the direction of Kieran Griffiths on a very special revolving stage, built specifically for the piece by stage designer Phil Ruddock.

“First staged at The Playhouse in 2007, this new production tells the moving story of the poor and destitute people forced to go into the workhouse, where families were separated, where conditions were squalled and cramped, and where 40 people died each month,” Áine McCarron at The Playhouse said.

“For us ‘Thirteen Steps’ is a very important piece, which explores the very human side of a major piece of local history.

“The timing of the piece, which was programmed several months in advance of the announcement that the Waterside Workhouse would close, was for us a sign that this important time in our city’s history will never be forgotten.

“We’re honoured to tribute that part of our local past, and we’re delighted to announce that a truly wonderful local troupe of actors will help us do so.”

Author of ‘The Workhouse and the Famine’ in Derry, historian and playwright Patrick Durnin formed The Waterside Local History Group, which played a meaningful part in the protection and preservation of the old Waterside Workhouse.

The facility - based in the Waterside Library building at Glendermott Road in the city’s Waterside - closed this month. The museum has kindly donated several pieces to The Playhouse for the production.

The Playhouse production of ‘Thirteen Steps’ by Patrick Durnin will run from Wednesday 14 to Saturday 17 May at 8pm. For more information contact (028)71268027.