Derry playwright Brian Foster has announced that his next play will be titled, ‘CREGGAN, the laughter and tears years’.
And with a string of hit plays behind him including, Maire –A Woman of Derry, The Butterfly of Killybegs, A Miracle in Ballymore, From The Camp To The Creggan, and his new play, When The Bogside Spinster Met The Carndonagh Stud, Brian is ideally placed to deliver Derry another theatrical masterpiece.
Brian Foster was brought up in Creggan, and wants to mark the estate’s 70th anniversary in 2017 with a spectacular play to be staged in November in the Millennium Forum.
Brian said: ‘My family moved from a flat in a tenement house in Bridge Street to 96 Creggan Heights in July 1953, when I was just a year old. Later, my mother would tell us how her heart sank when she turned the key and entered our new home that very first time. Not because she was disappointed. Far from it. But because it seemed so big after our wee flat in Bridge Street that she couldn’t imagine us ever being able to furnish it. We lived for over thirty years in Creggan Heights. Made some wonderful friends there and loved living there. My boyhood was largely spent in the fields and hills behind Creggan Heights. All the way out past Sirah Mitchell’s cottage to The Black Hut. And on a Sunday, a gang of us up over the mountains for the seven-mile trek to Grianan Fort.’
And now, as Creggan’s 70th birthday approaches, Brian says that he feels he owes it to past and present generations of Cregganites to write a play that will do them and Creggan proud.
Brian said: ‘The play will be set in the early days of Creggan, from the late 40s to the late 60s. It will be a joyous, uplifting play. A play that will focus on the social positives of Creggan as I remember them. A play about a people delighted to have their own homes. Homes with an inside toilet and a wee garden for their kids to play in. Streets where neighbour looked after neighbour. It will not be a political play. That’s for another day perhaps. It will be a play that will entertain, delight and enthral. A play full of warmth and humour and the odd touch of heartbreak. I see this as a project, and would like to involve community groups, drama groups, schools, not just in Creggan but throughout the city.’
But Brian says he needs financial help to pull it off.
Brian: ‘I have always worked under the premise that if your work is good enough people will be happy to pay to see it, and you shouldn’t need grant aid. So I have never asked for funding to finance any of my plays. I wouldn’t know how to fill in an application form. And as I have always worked without grant aid, I have established no contacts whatsoever among the grant makers, the powers that be. My past plays have all been self-financing, with the income from ticket sales going towards paying for all production costs, wages, everything. But this one is different. This one will have a large cast. Will be on a much bigger scale with associated much bigger production costs. I don’t think Creggan deserves a miserly production done on a shoestring. And, to encourage as many people as possible to come see the show, I want ticket prices to be kept as low as possible. Certainly under ten pounds. So I need individuals and grant awarders to step forward to help. I need the support of politicians and community leaders. I need the assistance of people experienced in securing funding for such arts projects. In the actual production, I want to involve local drama groups, community groups and, above all, local schools.
“And were the finished play to run for four or five nights, it might even be possible to arrange a Creggan Reunion Dance in the Guildhall on the Saturday night it closes. I’ve already started making notes. Jotting down ideas. And could commence writing the play proper in January, with a completion date of May or June next year. So that’s it folks. I need the entire community behind me on this. I need you to badger people (including local media) like crazy on my behalf. If you think you can help Brian bring his hugely ambitious project to fruition, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or Friend him on Facebook.