‘Exodus’ author in call for new material

Jonathan Burgess.
Jonathan Burgess.

A local author who penned a play on the “mass exodus” of Protestants from Derry’s west bank during the early years of the ‘Troubles’ is writing new material for a series of “theatre-forum workshops”.

Jonathan Burgess’ ‘The Exodus’ focused on the displacement of Protestant families from the cityside in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many of these families relocated to the Waterside, New Buildings and further afield.

Burgess is currently working on new material for a series of forum-theatre workshops under the title of ‘The Exile’.

‘The Exile’ will look at the subsequent experiences of those Protestant people who left their homes on the west bank. It will also “draw out” the impact this displacement had on people’s lives.

‘The Exile’ material will then be used in a series of forum-theatre workshops which will take place across the city early in 2013.

Theatre-forum workshops are a way of using drama to look at difficult subjects - doing it in a way that helps the audience understand the experiences behind the issues being dealt with.

A theatre-forum workshop usually starts with a one-act piece of drama followed by an opportunity for members of the audience to reflect on and discuss what they have watched.

‘The Exile’ has been commissioned by Church of Ireland Archdeacon Robert Miller, Rector of the Christ Church, Culmore, Muff and St Peter’s Parish group.

A spokesperson for the Archdeacon said: “Many wounds were caused across our city during the Troubles. For the Protestant population, the massive population movement during that period has left its mark. We want to use these theatre-forum workshops to promote greater understanding between the communities about this period and to do so in a way that brings healing. Legacy is a vital part of our year as UK City of Culture. We want ‘The Exile’ to leave a positive legacy of greater understanding and healing between our communities.”

As part of his research, Jonathan Burgess says he would like to hear from as many people as possible that have experiences and memories from the time of the population movement.

He said: “The secret of powerful drama is to capture and touch on the experiences of real people. That is why I am keen to talk to as many people as possible who have memories from that time.”

Jonathan Burgess can be contacted at Tel: (028) 71 841931 or via email at blueeagleproductions@hotmail.co.uk.